face cookie

January 11, 2011 § 5 Comments

Whenever there are catered events in my department, inevitably they feature platters of gigantic cookies the size of my face. Because I am a very creative person, I naturally started calling them ‘face cookies’. I’m not sure whether they actually taste any better, or it’s just my attraction their sheer size, but they’re completely irresistible, and I always seem to be capable of eating an entire face cookie myself.

Then, in a flash of brilliance, I realized that I could make cookies at home that were also giant, and thereby also more delicious! And here I think bigger really does taste better, because the size makes for a high proportion of gooey center, which we all know is the best part. This recipe is pretty perfect for giant cookies: it’s a sturdy dough that manages to bake fairly even across the gigantic cookie, yielding crispy-chewy texture that’s incredibly addictive. Also, the strategic placement of a bittersweet ganache both balances out the sweetness and increases the adorable quotient.

I gave this cookie to a great friend for her birthday, and I recommend you all do the same! Firstly, because it’s even cuter when you use candles for hair. And secondly, because you will otherwise eat the whole thing at once. After all, it’s only one cookie.

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Giant Cookie – Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

    1 1/2 cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside.

In a medium/large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Line a large (11X17-inch) baking pan, preferably unrimmed, with foil or parchment and press the cookie into a circle. I pressed my cookie into a 9-inch circle, about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick. When it bakes, it spreads to about 11 inches (Mel points out that this fits perfectly onto a 12-inch round cardboard circle you can find at most craft stores, if that makes transportation easier.)

Bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookie is lightly golden brown. Let the cookie cool completely on the baking pan – this helps the cookie stabilize and set so it can be easily lifted off the pan. Once cool, gently use the foil to lift the cookie off the pan.

Ganache

    100 g good-quality bittersweet chocolate (around 60%), chopped
    35 g heavy cream

Combine chocolate and cream in a bowl and microwave on low in short intervals (30-60 seconds). In between microwaving, whisk the mixture, and stop microwaving as soon as it becomes smooth. Pipe onto cookie in happy faces.

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korova cookies

September 27, 2010 § 10 Comments

I think these cookies may have been one of the early reasons I started baking. I didn’t start because I loved the process of cooking – I had barely been in our kitchen and was pretty oblivious to what goes into making food. I did, however, love eating. And these cookies were startlingly good: dark chocolate and fleur de sel, leading to a long-lasting love affair with salty-sweet desserts (see how seriously I take food?). My stepfather gave me the recipe and, it being near Christmas, a few weeks later I dug through my Christmas stocking to find a jar of fleur de sel. I was thrilled. I guess I was a weird kid.

Anyhow, I thought this was my secret ultra-amazing cookie recipe until I discovered food blogs and realized that pretty much everyone has made these cookies. But if you haven’t yet, now’s your chance! They’re a bit crumbly but somehow still so buttery that they melt in your mouth, and have a strong dark chocolate flavour with just a hint of salt. I would hate to have to choose a favourite, but these might be it, and given the quantities of cookies I have eaten that’s pretty high praise.

A little part of me wants to hate this recipe, because the dough is insufferably difficult to work with and the unbaked cookies fall apart all over the place. But the instructions are full of encouraging remarks about how one shouldn’t worry over these things, and more importantly, the cookies are so very worth it. You just stick the crumbled bits back on, and everything comes together in the end. Could this be a metaphor for life? Um, probably somehow, I am not feeling particularly poetic today but I’m just going to go with it.

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Korova Cookies – from Paris Sweets

Yield: Supposedly 36 cookies, but I somehow only ever get 24…

    1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch-Process cocoa (such as Van Houten or Valrhona)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick equals ¼ pound of
    butter, or 113 grams)
    2/3 cup (120 grams) packed light brown sugar (dark is okay if that’s what you have)
    1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
    1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel salt or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    5 ounces (150 grams) good-quality bittersweet chocolate (65%-70%), chopped into small bits (I use Lindt 70% )

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together. Stir to combine and set aside.

Beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add brown sugar, white sugar, fleur de sel (or salt), and vanilla. Beat for another 2-3 minutes, until fluffy and light.

With a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. The dough will look crumbly, and for the best texture you should work it as little as possible. Add the chocolate pieces and mix only until incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a smooth work surface and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, press the dough together and roll into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Lots of little bits will fall off, just press them back on and roll it all together. Try to make sure to press firmly or flatten the log in order to make sure there aren’t any air channels left. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2-inch thick. Some of them will break, but don’t worry, they will still be delicious! Just stick the broken bits back on. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets leaving about 1 inch of space between each cookie.

Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time and bake each sheet for only 12 minutes. The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Let the cookies cool on the sheet until they’re only just warm, then transfer to a wire rack. The cookies will keep at room temperature, packed airtight, for up to 3 days.

crispy oatmeal cookies

September 7, 2010 § 4 Comments

Have you heard? There was a hurricane in my part of town, and I survived. A hurricane! Okay, maybe it wasn’t my town, or even my county, but still, my general area. I am so hardcore.

I prepared for this apocalyptic event as I always do (for those many apocalypses), by baking something impractical. At least if I’m going to be trapped inside all day with the rain, I will have something delicious to munch on. The other requirement was that I had to already have all the ingredients in the house, because I’m not going outside in any hurricane. The solution was crispy salted white chocolate oatmeal cookies – despite the exceedingly long name, the ingredient list was short! I even had a fancy bar of white chocolate to use, but I opened it to find a weensy little worm crawling around, and I wish I had a photo if only to document the look of extreme horror on my face.

Luckily I also had white chocolate disks, and cookies were promptly baking. These cookies are both delicious and unusual – they’re a departure from the typical soft and chewy oatmeal cookie, but instead are thin and crisp and nearly hollow, and they fall neatly in line with my love of all things salty. In the end, the hurricane only managed a bit of rain and then lots of sun the next day, rendering my cookies unnecessary, but somehow no one minded having them around.

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Crispy Salted White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies – from Smitten Kitchen
The dough here isn’t very salty, so don’t skip the sprinkling of salt on top. Also, use good white chocolate! The chips are usually artificial and kinda weird tasting.

Yield: 24 cookies

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon table salt
    14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (like Maldon or fleur de sel), for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about 3/4-inch thickness.

Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt on each cookie. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

rainy day cookies

August 25, 2010 § 8 Comments

Oh my, what a weekend. It was my first back home after lots of travelling, and my roommates were all out of town, leaving a big, echo-y house to settle back into. So I slept. Did the laundry. Mopped the floors. Made molasses spice cookies. That last one was probably the highlight.

I was a little reluctant to make these at first, as they just seem like a very fall-appropriate recipe, and I refuse to give up on summer any earlier than I have to. But it was rainy and I wanted something toasty, and it turns out that these cookies are perfect. They’re soft and chewy with a slightly crisp outside, and even though the molasses makes the dough taste pretty iffy, once they’re baked it all balances out and they end up spicy and sweet and wonderful. The icky dough is probably actually a good thing, since this may be the first time I managed to get as many cookies out of the recipe as I was meant to. They definitely evoke fall, but in a comforting way, and it’s only August so I don’t even really need to worry yet – I have months of summer left! Months! Please don’t tell me otherwise.

Molasses Spice Cookies – adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: about 20 large cookies.

    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons of baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
    1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/3 cup unsulphured molasses

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice and set aside.

Beat the butter with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon clumps and roll into 1 3/4 inch-wide balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on prepared sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

Bake until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy (the inside of the cracks will still look raw), about 11 to 13 minutes. Don’t overbake these cookies! Cool cookies on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. These cookies stay nicely chewy for a few days if kept in an airtight container.

salty scotchies

June 19, 2010 § 7 Comments

I feel slightly silly when I change one minor thing about a recipe, and then have to write that I’ve “adapted” it. Switching brown sugar for white, adjusting a baking temperature – these are hardly revolutionary concepts. But yesterday I made a recipe literally a million times better (literally!) with one of these tiny changes, which can be summarized in one word: salt. I know, I’m so brilliant.

I had a bag of butterscotch chips lying around, which I had never tasted before let alone baked with, so I decided to start with the recipe on the back of the bag. Oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips sounded like a pretty decent combination. This recipe was incredibly easy, but when I tasted the dough I already knew there was going to be a problem. I guess I’m new to butterscotch, and wasn’t prepared for the cloyingly sweet taste. But after doubling the salt, and then sprinkling with fleur de sel (taking this back-of-the-bag recipe decidedly upmarket), the result was incredible: sweet but salty, nutty from the oats, kinda sticky, generally delicious.



Oatmeal Scotchies – adapted from the back of the Nestle bag
Be warned – these cookies are fairly hideous. People at my barbecue thought they were veggie burgers (to be fair, it was dark out!). But so easy, and so delicious!

    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
    1 2/3 cups (11-oz package) butterscotch chips
    Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling (if you only have table salt, or if you’re salt-shy, just leave this step out)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer (optional, but helps the cookies keep their shape).

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle cookies with fleur de sel.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool for a couple minutes on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Note: okay, now that I type this out, I realize that I didn’t just adjust the salt – all my instructions are different too. But it’s better this way!

white chocolate macadamia nut cookies

May 31, 2010 § 4 Comments

The weather here has become absolutely gorgeous, sunny and blazingly hot. The only downside is that turning on the oven now seems like an advanced form of torture, so my weekend baking plans have all been abandoned. These cookies predate the sudden onset of summer though, back to a near forgotten time when I would huddle near my stove for warmth and dream of moving to California, land of eternal sunshine and ripe avocados. At least that’s how I imagine it – I’m visiting San Diego in the fall and am firmly expecting avocados on every corner.

I made these a couple weeks ago, when a friend requested his favourite cookie. White chocolate macadamia nut cookies are a classic bakery item, but surprisingly none of my cookbooks had a recipe for it, so I scoured the internet. It took me literally a day to decide which recipe to use (they’re all so different! what if I pick a bad one?), but finally settled on this recipe, which is much like the classic chocolate chip cookie, but with different mix-ins. These cookies are soft and chewy and have a great balance of salty and sweet. Two important points: make sure you use real white chocolate (it’s probably best to chop up a bar), and use roasted and salted nuts. Then you too can experience the salty sweet perfection! And if it’s too hot out to bake, just eat the dough. It’s pretty good too.


White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
– adapted from Whipped
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies.

    1 cup butter, softened
    1 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 eggs
    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1 teaspoons baking soda
    10 ounces white chocolate, roughly chopped
    1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and salted, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown, and centre is set. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

chocolate almond thumbprint cookies

April 3, 2010 § 1 Comment



I have to confess that after we were robbed last week, one of my first thoughts was ‘Did they take the food processor?” And then I ran into the kitchen to check.

Luckily, the burglars were not tempted by my large, clumsy, multi-bladed kitchen equipment (although apparently our laptops were more enticing). I celebrated by using it immediately! Which in my world means several days later. Sliced almonds were toasted until golden and aromatic, and then blitzed with flour and sugar. The resulting cookie dough was stuffed with dark chocolate chips and then baked until adorable.

I’m not usually a huge fan of almond desserts, but it works beautifully in these cookies and I think it’s largely because they’re freshly toasted and it’s not too sweet. The cookies are chewy and flavourful, and they’re cute enough to make a good gift. Mine were a little, um, authentic looking, as I am no Martha Stewart, but the originals, baked at Smitten Kitchen, are prettier partly because she uses large baking discs. I couldn’t really justify buying yet another kind of chocolate, so made it with chocolate chips. I tried a few different kinds and would recommend either bittersweet or semisweet chips, because the milk chocolate ones obstinately refused to melt and just kind of looked weird. You could also top them with mini chocolate eggs, just in time for Easter!



Chocolate Almond Thumbprint Cookies – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips (I recommend bittersweet or semisweet)

Pulse hazelnuts, sugar, flour, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. (Be careful not to grind to a paste.) Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter, egg, and extract until combined well. Chill dough, covered, until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop level tablespoons of dough 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Roll dough into balls, then chill until slightly firm, about 10 minutes.

Press 2 or 3 chocolate chips firmly into the top of each ball of cookie dough and bake, 1 sheet at a time, until tops are pale golden and undersides are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Be careful not to overbake. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool completely.

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