Friday, September 19, 2008

Let the baking begin!

I've decided that I want to become a better baker, and the only way to do that is to practice.  So starting this past Thursday night I did just that.

Brian and I are having company this weekend, which is always the perfect excuse to make food that you don't normally allow yourself to eat.  This time, that food happens to be Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Criscrosses, and Apple Bread.

BAKING ADVENTURE #1


Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies



Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips



Directions:
Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.


Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.



Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.



Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes). Do not overbake.



Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.




I think the cookies look a little underdone even though I cooked them for about 18 minutes (4 minutes longer than the recipe says).  Maybe I used too much dough for each cookie (I guess I shouldn't have taken the 1/4 cup of dough per cookie literally...).  But like I said, they still taste damn good.  Especially with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.  Quote from Brian, "These may be the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had."  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

BAKING ADVENTURE #2

The peanut butter cookies I made next turned out awesome.  Both in look and in flavor.  I think I actually prefer these over the chocolate chip cookies, but I'm a peanut butter freak (you know the kind, will eat it by the spoonful out of a jar, can't keep it in the house or it will be gone, etc., etc.)


Peanut Butter Crisscrosses



Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
pinch of grated nutmeg
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups chopped salted peanuts
about ½ cup sugar, for rolling



Directions:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.


Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.



Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two, until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the chopped peanuts. You’ll have a soft, pliable (mushable, actually) dough.



Pour the ½ cup of sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls and drop the balls, a couple at a time, into the sugar.





Roll the balls around in the sugar to coat them, then place on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Dip the tines of a fork in sugar and press the tines against each ball first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction – you should have a flattened round of dough with crisscross indentations.



Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide metal spatula. Cool to room temperature.



Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.




After making the two batches of cookies I was beat, so I went to bed.


BAKING ADVENTURE #3


On Friday morning I woke up to finish my baking adventures and tackle the Apple Bread.  This was the easiest to make (except for peeling, coring, and dicing the apples, but that's more annoying than anything) out of the three.






Awesome Apple Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups apples, diced
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Directions:
Combine and set aside the oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
Sift flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to oil mixture gradually.
Add apples and nuts.



Bake in 2 regular loaf pans or 3 foil loaf pans for 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees.
Cool 10 minutes in the pan.
Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.



I haven't actually tried this bread yet, and it's the first time I've ever made it, so I hope it's good.  It smelled damn good while it was baking!  I will let you know if it's anything but great.

I will keep you posted about our other cooking adventures throuhout the weekend (think PORK, and lots of it).

5 comments:

  1. Wow - all of that looks delicious. Especially the peanut butter cookies... mmm.

    I love baking. I have a good recipe for pumpkin scones that I need to pull out, since it's that time of year.

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  2. Glad you enjoyed the cookies! The chocolate chip cookies can really vary on their baking time just depending on your oven. I definitely do use a 1/4 cup of dough though - it makes a nice big cookie! Hopefully you can try them again with a little longer baking time.

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  3. Best. Fucking. Cookies. Ever.

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  4. Thanks Hogs! I do think I will use both this chocolate chip cookie and this peanut butter cookie as my go to recipes in the future. I like how the peanut butter cookie had stayed soft after being baked. Sometimes those types of cookies will get crunchy, which I don't like as much.

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