Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It’s Cookie Time!



With Thanksgiving behind us we seriously get into the Christmas season. And that means baking cookies and making goodies for friends and family. Planning and organization will make it much easier. In years past my daughter and I baked dozens and dozens of cookies, but these days we just don’t seem to eat as many. That’s probably a good thing!

I hope Tip Tuesday has some information that will help make your baking efforts more enjoyable and more successful.

1) Select your recipes, check your supplies and make a shopping list. Nothing is more frustrating than starting to bake and having to make a quick run to the supermarket.

2) Always use the best quality ingredients you can afford. Use large eggs, unsalted butter and pure flavoring extracts. If using margarine rather than butter, make sure it is at least 80% vegetable oil. Others will have too much water and won’t work well.

3) Set out ingredients and supplies - and have a pan of hot soapy water ready for cleanup. Keeping things cleaned as you go will make everything easier and more fun.

4) Have ingredients at room temperature. Eggs, butter and other refrigerated items will mix much better. If you forget to soften the butter, don’t try to melt it in the microwave as it will get too soft. Simply grate it onto a plate and it will be ready in just a few minutes.

5) Most cookie dough can be frozen. Wrap well in wax paper then place in a zipper freezer bag. Label and date the package. If you might want to bake just part of the dough later, divide it in half then wrap. Thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator.

6) Dough for rolled cookies should be chilled for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling out. Work with a small amount of dough at a time, leaving the rest in the refrigerator.

7) Always preheat the oven. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper (a wonderful invention!) to prevent sticking. Use shiny cookie sheets – dark pans will absorb more heat. Pans with low or no sides are best for good heat conduction.

8) Do not substitute basic basic ingredients (flour, etc.) – follow recipe exactly. Measure properly. Spoon dry ingredients into measuring cups then level off. Do not pack – except for brown sugar, which should always be packed and hold its form when put into the bowl. Liquid ingredients should be measured into a lipped measuring cup and checked at eye level.

9) Leave 2 inches between cookies on pan. If baking 2 pans at a time, rotate them halfway through baking. Use that timer!

10) Remove immediately to wire rack to cool. Some recipes, however, will recommend cooling on the pan for a minute or two. Let the cookie sheets cool completely before putting more cookies on to bake. A hot pan will cause the dough to start spreading.

11) To cut brownies easily use a plastic knife. They will not stick as much.

12) Proper storage is key to good cookie results. Store crisp cookies in a container with a loose lid. Soft cookies should be stored airtight with wax paper between layers. If they start to dry out, a piece of bread in the container will help.
************************************************************************
Now for a recipe. It’s an old one that I’ve made almost every year, but I have no idea where I got it. It’s written on an old, yellowed sheet of notebook paper, wrinkled and spattered from years of use. These are delicious!

SPICY SUGAR COOKIES

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Stir together dry ingredients and add alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. If dough is too sticky, add just enough flour to handle. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll to 1/4” thickness and cut. If desired, sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake on a parchment-lined pan at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, until set and lightly browned on bottom. Makes about 100 (depending on the size of your cutter, of course!).
************************************************************************
A great cookie gift!

CANDY COOKIE MIX IN A JAR

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups mini M&M candies for baking
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder. In wide-mouth quart jar layer sugar, then M&Ms, then dry ingredient mixture. As you put in the layers, pack each one in tightly because jar will be full. Tighten lid and decorate jar as desired. Attach recipe:

Empty contents of jar into large bowl and mix well. Add 1/2 cup butter, softened. Stir in 1 egg, slightly beaten and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix completely. Shape into walnut-size balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes until slightly browned. Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

NOTE: Chopped nuts would be good in these, as would broken pretzel pieces or coconut.
************************************************************************
"A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand." 

(Unknown)

"Christmas cookies and happy hearts,
This is how the holiday starts!"

(Unknown)
************************************************************************
HAPPY BAKING!
************************************************************************
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment