Sunday, December 6, 2009

Getting Into Your Cookie Dough

Do you put your hands in the cookie dough? I usually do. I think it's the only way to make up a big batch. Of course I use the KitchenAid mixer as well, but in the end when you have to mix in the nuts, berries, chips, etc. nothing works like your hands. (I therefore generally always cook in short sleeves and an apron.)

Yesterday was Christmas cooking baking day. I made several kinds of cookies including those white chocolate chip cranberry oatmeal cookies I mentioned in my last posting. Like Oatmeal Scotchies, they are simple to make and very tasty too. And as far as cookies go, they are relatively healthy containing lots of oatmeal and less flour and sugar than many cookies. They do have a distinct cranberry flavor and when combined with the white chocolate (and chopped walnuts, which I added to the recipe) they are very good and highly recommended. Of course, I doubled the recipe... my mother was Italian after-all. All recipes have to be doubled. (smile)

When I bake most any cookie, I use a Silpat to line the sheets. The Silpat is a liner made of silicone and fiberglass that ensures cookies don't stick and burn on the bottom. (See photo below.) For years I relied on parchment paper for this purpose. But after receiving the first pair of Silpats as a gift, I went out and bought two more. For one baker, I find having four half-sheet pans and four Silpats the right number to keep me consistently busy. While two sheets are in the oven, I load the next two with cookie dough. I also find it best to never overload a cookie sheet or the oven, even a high-end convection oven should not have more than two full sheets for the most even baking process. I have also found that when using Silpats, I generally have to lengthen the time (to 3-5 minutes) the cookie sits on the sheet when it comes out of the oven before removing to the cooling rack. If not, the cookie is still too soft to remove. But they do make it quick and easy to bake cookies, and after removing the baked cookies a quick wipe with a damp cloth is all it takes before you add the next batch. I also use a cookie scoop to ensure a consistent size and a method that lets me move pretty quickly. The old tablespoon method isn't all it should be!

I may bake yet another few batches of Christmas cookies before the season is behind us. I haven't decided yet. My problem is that I enjoy the baking, but I don't need to have the results around the house tempting me and further expanding my waist line.

2 comments:

  1. That's a lot of cookies! And I agree, you have to get your hands dirty to make them. That's the best way, hehe.

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  2. Thanks Ben. "Alot" of cookies is relative. When I was in my 30's it was routine for me to have a couple friends over and we would bake for three days. This resulted in several thousand cookies, but we had a great time and plenty of cookies gifts to give away. Now I can only bake for 6-8 hours before my back says "take a break". And usually, when I take that break, I'm done for the Christmas season!

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