Friday, January 20, 2012

Warming up a snowy night

When the snow falls heavy and the world goes cold, white and quiet, what do you do to warm up your family?

I started by making an awesome oven roasted chicken with potatoes, carrots, and onions (a subject of a future blog). The dinner was lovely but wasn't quite right without something to finish it up. I went to my standby cookie recipe from Big Soft Chewy Cookies by Jill Van Cleave.

There is a newer edition out but I stand by the first book and if you can, I'd recommend buying a copy as they are now available for as little as $1.00 through Amazon and other web sellers. I know I found some great copies and will be buying them to give to my daughters who have several of the other recipes like Snickerdoodles in their own recipe boxes.

I've had this book for almost ten years and haven't had a recipe that I haven't liked out of this book. Family and friends have commented on my notes on the pages such as "Jeff says make again". I love putting in the comments of family and friends as they are the ones who I am baking for.

Growing up, I would bake for the family on Saturdays. I remember using the mixer for all the cookies. While tasty, I wasn't quite happy with the texture. Having room temperature butter and egg and not over-beating the dough solves this problem. Use a wooden or heavy spoon and a bowl instead of using the mixer. (Sorry my beloved Kitchen-Aid, you aren't needed here.) Remember, the key is that you MUST put your butter and egg on the counter and bring to room temperature. I learned this from Big Soft Chewy Cookies.

Beat with wooden spoon one stick of butter with 1/2 cup each white and dark brown sugar until smooth. Yes i t should be dark not light brown sugar. Add one egg, one teaspoon of vanilla and two tablespoons of milk. I have used heavy cream, whole milk and buttermilk all with good results as that was the liquid I had in the fridge so if you have 2%, 1%, fat free or whole, don't worry. Again beat until smooth.

Next sift together one cup of all purpose flour, one half cup of cake flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add flour mixture to butter and egg mixture and stir only until dry ingredients are combined. Stir in one cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup walnuts if you want nuts in your cookies.

I use a medium scoop for my cookies and put them on a silpat covered cookie sheet. The author recommends a 1/4 C measuring scoop or 2 oz scoop, remember, these are BIG and Chewy!

Bake in a pre-heated 375 Degree F oven for 120-15 minutes. You are looking for cookies that are browned on edges and firm to the touch.

Move cookies to a rack to cool. They tend to disappear after about five minutes.