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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cookie Baking Begins!

Update: Also made Good Eats Peanut Butter Fudge tonight. Yum!

Today I got started on the 80+ doz cookies I typically make for my annual Christmas open house. We have been doing this for almost 15 years now, so I have it down to something like an art form.

I mix and bake each day, typically completing 2-3 cookies batches each day. This year I am trying something a little different with a few of these early batches. I was listening to an episode of The Splendid Table with Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Jacques Torres about the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. They suggested allowing the mixed cookie dough to rest for between 24 and 36 hours before baking. Supposedly, this allows the flour to hydrate completely and results in a much better cookie. I usually mix and bake almost immediately, but I was interested to see how this changes the cookies this year. We shall see.

Today I mixed up 3 different batches of cookies. First was a a traditional Toll House Chocolate Chip using the recipe on the back of the Nestle's bag. I made one addition to this recipe of Cocoas Nibs. A friend gave me a bag of these a while ago and the last batch I made with them came out wonderfully. They give a rich chocolate flavor as well as a nutty crunch.

Next were 2 batches of oatmeal cookies (recipe) using the recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. In this recipe I do make a fairly significant change. It is never wise to fool with the proportions of a cookie recipe, so I don't add extra flour or anything. Rather, I change the way the cookie tastes by adding an additional 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp of ground cloves. I tried this many years ago and love the way it makes the cookies taste. If I remember correctly, there was a spice cookie recipe next to the original oatmeal cookie recipe and I decided to see what would happen if I added the spices from one recipe to the other.

One batch of these cookies recevied white chocolate chips. This makes them easier to identify from the more typical Oatmeal Raisin cookies. The next batch added raisins but also 2 other dried fruits -- cranberries and blueberies. Rosanne had these in the cupboards for other purposes but they seemed an excellent addition to these oatmeal cookies.

Tomorrow Joe and I will bake these batches and see if they improve significantly over past years. Then we will mix up a few more. I still need to go get more butter, sugar, flour and nuts to keep me going, but it always a good feeling to have the first batch done.

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