Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

cookies and computers

I am still green but now using a different computer, as you can see. My usual one got a virus which destroyed a small but apparently significant part of it, "windows" I think the thing is called. And now it won't turn on at all anymore. So I got a lot of piano playing done yesterday afternoon. Every now and then I wonder why I am doing all this piano playing. It's not as if I am going to become a concert pianist at my age. But maybe there doesn't need to be a reason for everything a person does with their time.

I also baked chocolate chip cookies. Not having made American-style cookies before, it is taking me a few goes to get right. The first time, I used salt instead of sugar. Yes, I know. Post-house-moving mistake, things got mixed up. The second time, I made the mixture too runny and the cookies fused into one giant sheet. The next time, I tried to make them double chocolate flavour, so substituted cocoa for some of the flour, but then they weren't sweet enough. This last lot was quite close to perfect, but cookie baking is definitely nothing like the English baking I am used to. I want to get it right though, as really good cookies are my absolute favourite biscuit-type thing to eat.

They take eight minutes to bake so I had to keep checking the oven and doing things. In between I was practising the candenza-type bit from the end of the last movement of the Moonlight Sonata. So I was alternately sitting there in my floury apron going DA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA!!! loud enough to give your granny a heart attack, and popping into the kitchen to change around baking trays.

Well, you probably had to be there.


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Mrs. du Toit said...

If I may be so bold...

Cookies are basically derived from three types (drop, rolled, cut). Nearly all recipes are a variation on these constants. Once you master one recipe (of a type) the only trick is in recognizing that you're working on a variation, so you can exercise your mastery on its variation.

The sugar cookie type is the only one that is more difficult--like pie pastry, it's the handling that makes all the difference. It's impacted by the weather as well, so mastery is fleeting.

The basic recipe for MOST cookies (and the simplest combination/recipe):
DROP Cookies
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 t vanilla
1 cup fat (butter or shortening)
2 eggs
1 t salt (or 1/2 t if you use salted butter)
1 to 1/2 t baking soda (more on a hot/dry day)
2 to 2 1/4 c flour
350-375 10 mins (about)

Now don't do what the normal recipe says and mix in separate bowls. That's just asking for more dishes to wash.

Cream the sugar and butter then add the eggs. Add the small ingredients (salt, vanilla, baking powder, etc.). Then add the flour. One bowl. One spoon.

If you add chocolate chips and nuts you have chocolate chip cookies.

If you like a crispier/nuttier cookie, add about 3/4 oats to the recipe and anything else you want to add.

Basically, you can add anything to it, once you added the flour. You can even make the plain (and simpler variation on rolled sugar-cookie) snicker-doodles, by sprinkling with Cinnamon sugar (use a fork to make them flatter first).

You can literally add anything: a little peanut butter and peanuts (variation on a peanut butter recipe), applesauce and oatmeal and apple pie spice for a spice cookie, nuts, figs, raisins, etc. Whatever you like in a cookie.

The only trick is mastering the fat balance. Butter tends to cause a cookie to spread out, as it melts faster. If you use a combination of shortening and butter you'll still get the taste of butter, but without the risk of the spread. (That's probably why the cookies you made spread--if you'd done EXACTLY the same with shortening, they'd have been perfect). Only shortening has a tendency to make white cookies that don't brown as well, and it doesn't intermingle with the flour to give you the taste you're after. Half butter half shortening is a nice balance to test.

My family's favorite is w/the oatmeal, white chocolate and no nuts.

Buy a cookie scoop if you don't have one. It makes it faster and uniform. They're about $15.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Alice said...

Thanks for this Connie. Lots to work on here!


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