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Sunday, November 21, 2004

IMBB#10 - Holiday Cookies

Or should I say "holy day cookies"?

After nineteen years of attending services at Episcopal churches, I was recently confirmed. (It's not just for teenagers!) As we had been asked to provide three dozen cookies each for the Traditional Protestant Cookies and Punch in the Church Basement Reception, my preparations in the days before this momentous event consisted not of prayer and devotional reading, but by doing a lot of baking. (It was actually pretty good prep, as I can get in a meditative state when I cook.)

I volunteered to bake for the non-cooks in our party (actually the other bakers probably covered them as well, but I didn't see a lot of leftovers when I left, either). I was interested in providing cookies that were easy to make and had a wide appeal, but were a little more interesting than decorated sugar cookies or brownies. I considered making the Lemon Sugar Cookies from Lori Longbotham's fabulous book, Luscious Lemon Desserts, but recalled that they were a PITA to make. In the end I provided three of my Old Reliable recipes:

Mom's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies - my absolute mostest favorite of the cookies my mom makes
Robert's Chocolate Cookies - double chocolate cookies made with Scharffenberger chocolate
Triple Ginger Cookies - a recipe I tweaked my very own self.

Here is a picture of some of the leftovers, on the festal red paper plate:

Three for the Trinity, yeah, that's my story

I recently did a post about the peanut butter cup cookies, so will refer you to that one, otherwise this post will be very, very long. But here's a picture of peanutty goodness cooling off. You should make these cookies. They're very, very good. People will become your Best Friends Ever:

Chocolatey Peanutty Goodness

Double Chocolate Cookies, aka Robert's Chocolate Cookies

Recipe was originally in Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies cookbook.

Scharffenberger is a boutique chocolate, made from bean to bar in an old brick building in Berkeley, California. It is, unfortunately, difficult to find outside Northern California, but worth the effort. (And it has also gotten even pricier than usual due to the world wide supply problems.) My favorite for eating (and Cook's Illustrated agrees) is the 62% cocoa solids "semisweet" (scare quotes, as 62% exceeds a lot of bittersweet) but they make baking bars with various sugar/cocoa content.

Berkeley's finest

Instead of the bar of unsweetened chocolate, because I don't like the taste of the chunks even in small bits, I used a bar of Scharffenberger 70% Bittersweet and adjusted the sugar down (gently rounded cup). You could also use the unsweetened for the batter, and chunk up a smaller bar of bittersweet or semisweet (or buy the Can O' Chocolate Chunks that we can find around here in better baking sections).

These cookies have been known to elicit an "Oh my Gaawwwwwwd" reaction. So share these with people when you want to bring them closer to the Divine.

1/3 cup all purpose flour (measured via spoon-in and level off)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

9.7 oz (1 box) Scharffenberger 99% unsweetened chocolate
Divide out 6 oz and break remainder into small chunks

1/4 cup unsalted butter (2 oz)
2 large eggs, room temp
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground coffee (I left this out, as a lot of kids would be present)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Mix flour, salt, and BP together in a small bowl.

Melt butter and 6 oz chocolate together. Stir till smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat eggs and sugar together with electric mixer. Add coffee and vanilla. Beat for ten minutes until the mixture is thick.

Turn mixer down to low and add warm butter and chocolate mixture. Mix till just incorporated (scrape down the bowl as needed).

Add the dry ingredients (and walnuts) and chocolate chunks and mix by hand until incorporated.

Chill the dough a couple of hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop the dough in the size you want on it. I like teaspoons as these are rich, intense cookies (esp. if you put the coffee in!) but you could do larger. Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on size.

Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack and allow the cookies to set up on the paper and cool thoroughly.

Triple Ginger Cookies

I also call these "Ginger Blasts". I was casting about for recipes last year after I got a huge bag of incredibly potent ground ginger from our local halal shop. I had previously been referred to a recipe for triple ginger cookies and been underwhelmed, but it had potential. Here is what I came up with:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (6 oz., 1 1/2 cubes)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (12 oz - measured via dip-and-scoop)
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda (less for more "droppy" cookies)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS fresh ginger, finely minced and/or crushed
4-6 oz crystallized ginger (small dice - under 3/8 inch - use "baker's cut" if you can get it)

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl (with electric mixer, or by hand), add the molasses, and the egg until mixed well. Add the fresh ginger and mix until dispersed more or less evenly.

Combine remaining ingredients (except for crystallized ginger) in a small bowl and gradually fold them into the moist ingredients. Fold the crystallized ginger in by hand with a spatula. Batter will be fairly moist. Cover bowl and refrigerate 2 hrs-overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spoon batter out in tablespoonfuls on a parchment-lined cooky sheet. Be sure to space them at least 2" apart (they spread). Bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on the parchment sheets on the rack.

Oh yeah, here is a picture of me looking pretty happy on the Cathedral steps, and not just because I'm heading for the basement and all those cookies, either:

One happy camper

I didn't get a chance to sample the other offerings, as I was standing in line to get my prayer book signed and I was a bit cookied out temporarily, but I am pleased to report that the Bishop was seen to have one of the peanut butter cup cookies on the signing table.

Charlotte -- all those cookies look just scrumptious! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining in on the IMBB cookie swap!
Charlotte -- all those cookies look just scrumptious! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining in on the IMBB cookie swap!

Jennifer - http://www.domesticgoddess.ca
Thank you, very interesting!

I made the chocolate cookies and followed directions. when I pulled the dough from the frig it is rock hard. I can't seem to "scoop" anything. Is this normal?
These cookies are delicious, I like a lot.
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