Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Best Cookie Recipes Ever

Dear Em,
We did a lot of baking this weekend (we were actually supposed to do a little more but you were a little under the weather by the end). I'm not much of a baker. I can do cooking for the most part. You put ingredients together & taste as you go, adding flavor when things don't seem quite right. Baking is harder for me. You put everything together & have no idea how the ingredients are going to come together until it bakes in the oven. After all the time spent putting your creation together, it can totally turn into a flop...& I've had a lot of flops. Most of my baking either doesn't look quite right or just tastes ehhh (maybe it has something to do with my Italian style of measuring).

So I was feeling really adventurous when I decided we would bake three different kinds of cookies that we had never attempted before: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt, White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with Vanilla Salt, & Oatmeal Pecan Cookies. I just discovered the website, Not Without Salt, & every recipe sounds so yummy, I want to try baking everything. I narrowed it down to three different types of cookies. The recipes looked pretty simple, with a small, unique twist in each. I was really hoping I could pull them off, because they sounded absolutely incredible online.

You are always in the mood to bake & gladly put your apron on, pulled up your chair to stand on, & set to work with me. Baking with you typically means there will be a mess...everywhere. This time was no different. When I ask you to stir gently, I am reminded every single time that you have no concept of the word gentle. Flour & dough covered our entire kitchen...on the counter, on the floor, on the cabinets, all over your face.

It was your job to crush the candy canes. You used a ladle, & I wasn't absolutely sure if you were trying to crush them or kill them. It was actually really hilarious. We had so much fun.

We made the three different doughs, & baked a batch of each cookie as we went along. Oh Em Gee. These cookies were amazing. I'm pretty sure these are the only kinds of cookies I will ever bake in the future. They're the kind of cookies that have the crust on the outside but are still gooey on the inside (my favorite). The chocolate chip cookies were extra chocolaty (yours & Daddy's favorite). Each cookie had a dash of sea salt (all of our favorites). They were so good.

We saved the extra dough & let you & your little best friend put the dough on the cookie sheets the next day. You two were the most adorable little bakers. I was happy to pay you for your hard work in cookies. You two were happy with the arrangement too.

Although we typically leave decorated sugar cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, we all agree that he would much rather enjoy a few of these cookie this year. I am sure I have a little baking assistant who wouldn't mind helping me bake up a few more batches.

I love you so,

Recipes From Not Without Salt...

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

- 2 sticks of butter (8oz)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 & 3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 lb chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, for sprinkling on top before baking

Cream the butter and the sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes on medium high. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Continue mixing while adding the eggs one at time. Make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Combine the flour, soda and salt in another bowl. With a whisk to combine. With the machine on low, slowly add the flour. Mix until just combined, taking care not to over mix. With a spatula fold in the chocolate.

If you so choose, and I do recommend that you do, sprinkle a very fine dusting of good quality sea salt.

Bake at 360* for 12 minutes. They should be lightly golden on the outside but still look gooey on the inside.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with Vanilla Salt

Ingredients- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tbs granulated sugar
- 2 tbs turbinado sugar
- 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tbs packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 & 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons /30 g crushed peppermint candies or candy canes (I added a little more)
Vanilla salt, such as Jacobsen, for finishing (we couldn't find this & just used sea salt)

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light in color and texture, 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well to combine. Again, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt to combine.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until streaks of flour still run throughout. Add the chocolate and peppermint candies then mix until everything just comes together. Finish the dough by hand, taking care to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

At this point, it is best to refrigerate the dough for 24 hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 360°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets. Top the cookies with a pinch of vanilla salt just before baking.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheets halfway through if they appear to be baking unevenly. The cookies should be lightly golden on the outside but still look quite gooey on the inside. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes. Makes 18-24 cookies. These are best eaten the day of baking but will keep, if well sealed, for up to 2 days.

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

- 1/2 cup butter, soft
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- 1 tbs whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 & 1/4 cups oats
- 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans (I added more)
- 1 & 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated. Add all the dry ingredients, including pecans and chocolate and mix until combined. Scoop even size balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon size) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325°F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 24 Cookies.

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