Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The World Needs Christmas Cookies



As I mentioned in this post, cookies did not come easily or naturally to me.  So a few weeks ago when I started having those Christmas baking stirrings, I decided to just tweak that recipe into a spice cookie. Ohhhhh my.  They are so good.  I like a lot, lot of spice so if your palette leans a little more conservative, you might cut this down. 
My photo assistant demanded the camera turn her way.
I've been a stage mom since day #1 so she knows to pose when she sees a camera and she'll get a treat.  
The only hard part of these cookies is the mixing and the waiting.  These are not instant gratification cookies.  These are completely my recipe—i.e. long and involved with delayed gratification.  The funny thing about them is that they truly are better when they have had the chance to sit overnight.  They’re fine after cooling about an hour, but they are otherworldly after sitting for about ten.  Between scooping and baking, they must rest in the freezer for at least two hours.  The only differences between this recipe and my last cookie recipe are the spices, blooming the spices in the melted butter, and the chunks are all white chocolate instead of mixed with dark.  I use lemon zest, the more traditional choice would be orange but I felt lemon would be best--I try not to take zest intuition in jest.  Forgive me.

“Gingerbread” and White Chocolate Cookies.
Makes 18 cookies
2 ½ cups AP flour
1 ¼ cups (2.5 sticks) butter
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/3 teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons diastatic malt powder
1 Tablespoon whiskey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, plus another Tablespoon or so for topping. 
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs (duck, if possible)
12 oz white chocolate
-Chop chocolate into ¼-1/2 inch strips.  Put in freezer
-Melt butter, add spices once butter coats the bottom of the pan and more of it is melted than not over medium-low heat.  Stir slowly for about two minutes until all the butter is melted and the spices become fragrant.  Take off heat.
-Fold in flour, diastatic malt powder, vanilla extract, salt, oil, and whiskey.  Once combined, set aside. 
-In bowl, combine brown and white sugar with egg and baking soda.  Once incorporated well, add spiced flour mixture to bowl and mix just until combined. 
-Fold in white chocolate chunks delicately.  You want the chunks to stay big. 
-Line sheet tray with parchment.  Scoop dough onto tray with 2” ice cream scoop.  Leave the balls just as they are!  No squishing of the balls! Sprinkle with salt. 
-Freeze for at least three hours. 
-Preheat oven to 400F on convection if you have it. 
-Once oven is sufficiently pre-heated (I let it go a little while longer than when it says it’s complete. You want it to be hot), transfer half (or less) of the dough balls to an ungreased, non-stick sheet tray.  I use these.  I have a big range oven, so I bake in two batches- 9 in each.  If you have a smaller oven, you might do three batches with six cookies each.  They bake quickly so it’s not a problem.  If you do not have as many sheet trays as you do batches of cookies, line the sheet tray with parchment and bake on that.  They can’t be moved until they are cool, so you can gently slide them off the tray in parchment and re-use the tray.  I only bake one batch at a time because I want the oven to stay hot and dry.  More than one batch would make the oven considerably more humid. 
-Bake nine minutes exactly.  Ovens vary so maybe yours bakes faster or slower.  Based on what you know of your oven, adjust baking time by about 30-45 seconds.  The beauty of these cookies is that they are gooey and underbaked in texture.  That is achieved by the diastatic malt powder and the process of freezing the dough.  If you were to skip the freeze, the butter would escape the dough and the cookie would flatten out.  We want all that damn butter in there! 
-Let rest about ten hours.  If you don’t believe me, have one an hour after baking and then another one the next morning and you will totally agree. 

I love these cookies because they are so easy, can be prepped (and baked!) way ahead, and they really do stand up as a dessert all their own.  One cookie per person is not the usual cookie to person ratio but these are substantial enough to stand alone.  
There were two other new posts published before this one.