Monday, January 3, 2011

Cookie Explosion: Sugar Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies & Shortbread Cookies

I've been slacking on trying new recipes. I started a new job around the middle of the year and it's the type of job that can be consuming if you let it. As a result, I end up pretty exhausted by the end of the day, which makes cooking more of a burden than pleasure.'s the resolution. Get back to cooking/baking for pleasure. This requires a second resolution: sleep. There's something about the hours after midnight that seem enticing to me. But, that doesn't work well if I have to be awake in the hours before 10am. So, I need to get to bed earlier and on a more regular schedule so that I have the energy to not only work a full day, but also do more in the evening (like cook) other than wait until my, post 10:00pm, "second wind".


Speaking of baking for pleasure...the pre-Christmas baking day that I had with some friends was a tonne of fun. Making three triple recipes of cookies could have been a disaster. You never know when sharing a kitchen with others... But, it worked out well and we made a tonne of cookies over the course of an afternoon.

Recipe 1: Sugar Cookies (previously posted about here)

I warned my friends that the recipe makes a lot of cookies. But we threw caution into the wind and tripled the recipe.

Alcohol may have been a factor in that decision...

As with my previous experience with this recipe, the cookies turned out well. We needed to stick the dough in the freezer for a bit before rolling, but we quickly got a routine down. Drink wine...roll dough..cut out...oven...repeat.

I ended up taking some of these cookies to friend's after a moment of Jackson Pollock inspiration.

Next up is Shortbread Cookies (source)

3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) cornstarch
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp (1 mL) vegetable oil

The Steps

1. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. • Place oven rack in centre of oven. Heat to 300°F (150°C).

2. Make dough • In mixing bowl, whisk flour with cornstarch. • In large mixing bowl and using wooden spoon, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, half at a time, to make smooth dough with no streaks.

3. Roll into balls • On lightly floured work surface and using hands, roll dough into two 9-inch (23 cm) logs; cut each log into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into ball. • Place, 2 inches (5 cm) apart, on prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake cookies • Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in centre of oven until bottoms are golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. • Wearing oven mitts, transfer baking sheets to rack. Let cool for 2 minutes. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to rack and let cool completely.

Here are some of the final product hanging out next to a mound of sugar cookies:

Initially, we just rolled the shortbread into balls, but shifted to pressing them down after one batch. Again -- really good recipe. But we were surprised with how few cookies came out of a triple batch.

Last...but not least...Gingerbread Cookies (source)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional - I excluded)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
3. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended.

4. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
5. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
6. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.) Preheat oven to 375°.
7. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
8. Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.
9. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.
10. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.
11. Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
12. Cut out cookies with desired cutter.

13. Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.
14. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookiew).
15. Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.

Although I'm not the biggest fan of gingerbread, everyone that tried the cookies said that they were very good.

About half of the cookies we made over the course of the day:



comebacknikki said...

Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!

Clearly, I'm still on a sugar high from the massive amounts holiday cookies I consumed. ;-)

bellini valli said...

They are like the trinity of Christmas that no holiday should be without...shortbread, sugar cookies and gingerbread.

kat said...

Nice to get a bunch done at one time.

Caroline said...

You just hit on probably my three absolute favorite cookies in one post. These look delicious! And I think alcohol definitely helps when making cookies, especially if one or two tear in the transfer from table to cookie sheet - thanks to the wine, I just call them 'rustic' instead of scrapping them and rerolling.

Ronald said...

Couldn't have done it all without the wine! Great pics!