I went a little nuts with the cookie baking this weekend, ending up with a grand total of 9 different baked treats. Really. It is crazy to bake this many cookies in one weekend. I would say that this was the result of some sort of manic phase were it not for the massive amounts of lithium already coursing through my veins. I should still probably mention it to my psychiatrist. Would it be inappropriate to bring him a goodie bag?
The baking crusade began when my sister complained that all she wanted to do was sit at home and eat homemade cookies. But, being that her life is consumed by being a workaholic, mother of an 18 month old "demonic child beastie" (her exact words-- which, I happen to know is a term of extreme affection from J), and a chronic migraine sufferer, she had resigned herself to pouting about cookies instead of baking and eating them. I, being a bored, childless, and a chronic cookie baker decided that I could afford the postage required to brighten her day.
So, since my favorite recipes were feeling a little worn around the edges, I walked up to the library where I checked out a book of cookie recipes and a very tattered copy of Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things on DVD. If anyone is going to do a marathon cookie make, may I suggest having a movie lined up. It is quite a nice way to recharge one's batteries. May I also suggest parchment paper, particularly if you do not own a dishwasher.
I will be delivering cookies to willing recipients once I recover slightly from this sugar hangover. So, if I know where you live and I didn't see you this weekend, expect a knock at your door and a bag full of cookies.
I'll go through the cookies and describe them one by one.
Scandinavian Sand Cookies
These unfortunately named cookies (who wants to eat sand?) are basically a dry version of a snickerdoodle with cardamom. They taste great with milky black tea. My chances of writing down the recipe are somewhat high, but only because I have yet to find a snickerdoodle recipe that is up to snuff.
White Chocolate Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
These are probably my second favorite of the bunch. Not only is the cookie a tasty breakfast substitute, it also taught me a trick to making your thick-grained cookies taste extra delicious. These also have the distinction of being the only cookie here that I mixed entirely by hand. Not because I am a bad ass, but because my little had mixer was starting show evidence of transmission problems. Oops. Remember how I've said that if anyone is ever dumb enough to get married to me I will only be registering for sharp knives? Well, I'm going have to add a Kitchen Aid mixer to that list, too.
So I used to have a pretty gnarly allergy to chocolate. Or, really, since it affects my digestive tract rather than making my throat swell shut, I had a nasty intolerance to chocolate. Being that my eating habits were developed prior to the realization that I could eat chocolate again, the recipes I selected were not particularly chocolaty. As it turns out, this was a good thing. The dough for these cookies requires refrigeration. So, I went to town making the dough before I went over to a friend's house for dinner. I don't typically do a lot of tasting while I bake, but I do some. And I know I'm guilty of tasting this more than usual because I was worried that the ratio of sugar to unsweetened chocolate was not right. Fast-forward through dinner (and a slice of tiramisu torte that could not be refused) and it turns out that I still can't eat chocolate like the best of 'em.
I'm a sucker for the pretzel shaped cookies in those blue tins of Dutch Butter Cookies people start give at this time of year. I thought it would be nice to make them myself. Nope it's not nice at all. The dough for this cookie (even when refrigerated overnight) is pretty flaky. Thus, I made a round of pretzels before rolling out the rest of the dough to make cut out hearts. By the 100th heart, I was glad I switched.
Toffee Almond Bars
I'm typically not a fan of cookie bars, but I made these because I like almonds and I like toffee. This was the one recipe where my amateur baker felt that I could improve the recipe by using vanilla instead of almond extract, adding some cocoa to the dough so it was chocolaty throughout, and baking it a few minutes less. My friend's kid seemed to like them, but not enough to reprise this performance:
Crispy Sesame Chips that do not like humidity. They were delicious until they all stuck to one another. I am thinking of melting them down to try again.
I made these cookies at the request of my friend Chrissy. She flipped through the cookbook and chose these because they had her two favorite ingredients: honey and walnuts. Even though the recipe looked difficult, I agreed to make them because Chrissy is the type of friend to remember that you want a new hair dryer even when you yourself do not remember such things. I was also intrigued because it said the recipe might date back to the Phoenicians.
I'm going cut out the niceties and just say that these cookies are a bitch to make. They required toasting and chopping about a million walnuts. They required zests of lemon and oranges and fresh squeezed orange juice and I don't have the right tools to do these quickly. It also called for me to cry a half cup of brandy tears. When all was said and done, I think these cookies took about 7 hours to make.
I didn't even want to eat one when it was fully "ripened" the next morning. When I did, I decided it was like the love child of Baklava and a dry cookie. I decided that I like the parents better than the child. I also decided never again to make me a cookie with a name reminiscent of skin cancer.
Pumpkin Ginger Pillows
These cookies were the last ones I baked. They are good, but I was in a bit of a cookie coma when I finished them. Their secret ingredient? Crystallized ginger. This turned out to come in handy when I was having tummy trouble from the near-lethal Chocolate Crinkle dough-tiramisu torte combo.
Chocolate Walnut Meringues
I love a good meringue cookie. This dates back to my days as a wee little Crowling. There was a family owned grocery store around the corner from my parent's house. We didn't go there often, partly because it was pricey, but mostly because the family's son had gotten into some trouble for shooting the neighborhood cats with a crossbow.
When my parents did shop there, they would often bring home a giant meringue cookie from the bakery department. It was piped into a perfect swirl and topped with rainbow nonpareils. I looked at this recipe and figured-- barring some huge meringue error on my part (meringue takes patience and an eye for what type of foamy peak one is dealing with)-- that I would be in love. I was right. I loved these cookies. Notice the past tense.