Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday Cookies

At the beginning of January I was called to teach Sunday School to the 12-13 year olds. There are about 12 of them and they're a fun group, but I quickly discovered that they need a little additional motivation to participate and answer questions. So I started baking cookies each week and they get one if they answer a question, read a quote, etc. It certainly does the trick, plus it's one extra excuse each week for me to bake. So I decided to share three of my favorite cookie recipes, two were a big hit, and one...was not so big a hit. But I'm still sharing it because it's one of my favorites (and my mom's), but I guess it's more of a grown-up's cookie than a teenager's cookie.
A few thoughts on the way I make cookies...
In the past few months I've been trying out dark brown sugar a lot more and loving it. I don't know why I never tried this before, but I love the rich molasses flavor. The only thing about it is that the dough is a little darker, so it's harder to tell by sight when the cookies are done, because they're just going to be more brown. So be careful not to underbake them.

Another thought about cookies...I like a softer cookie, chewy but not crisp. In order to get this I tend to take them out right when the edges are getting brown, then leave them on the pan for a while until they're getting cool. Then I remove them to a wire rack. I think the texture is what makes the difference. If you prefer a crisper cookie, leave them in a little longer, obviously.

Also, I only bake cookies at 350 degrees. I know most recipes say 375, but I think this makes the outsides cook too quickly. I just think they bake more even at a lower temperature, this goes for cakes too.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are sooo good and Jared's favorite. I don't remember where I came across a version of this recipe a few years ago, but they're really great and I only had to tweak the recipe a little bit to get it where I wanted it.
1 C butter, room temp
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1/4 C white sugar
1 package (small) instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips (I do half milk, half semi sweet if I have both on hand)
Beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in pudding mix until well mixed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and chocolate chips and mix well.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

These would be great with nuts, but as I'm allergic to walnuts and pecans, I haven't tried...
These also make great big cookies, try a 1/4 C measure or large cookie scoop.

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my absolute favorite cookies right now. This is also probably my most asked for recipe. My mom got this from a college roommate forever ago. With this recipe I am very brand loyal for the margarine and peanut butter, I have noticed a real difference when using other brands, I don't know why. Also, be sure to use milk chocolate chips, if you use semi sweet or dark, it overpowers the peanut butter flavor.

1 1/2 C (3 sticks) margarine (Imperial) don't use butter, they'll be too crisp
1 1/2 C chunky peanut butter (Skippy)
1 1/2 C white sugar
1 1/2 C brown sugar (sometimes I use dark)
3 eggs
3 3/4 C flour
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
milk chocolate chips to taste

Beat margarine, PB, sugars, and eggs. Blend in flour, soda, powder, salt, and chocolate chips. Spoon onto baking sheet (this recipe traditionally says to refrigerate, roll into balls, etc, but I skip all that and just use a cookie scoop and put it right on after mixing and it works great).
Bake 350 degres 10 - 12 minutes. Makes 9 dozen.
I usually bake half the recipe, and refrigerate the rest to bake a couple days later.

Tart Cherry and Oat Cookies

I was so excited to discover a great bakery, or should I say 'dessert boutique' while wandering around German Village a few months ago. I've really missed all my favorite bakeries from Portland, so I was so happy to find a replacement in Columbus. I don't usually go for this sort of cookie (meaning one without chocolate), but I tried it out and loved it. So I started searching for a recipe I could make at home. These aren't an exact replica, but they're very good and my mom loves them. These were not a big hit with the twelve year olds, but I still stand by them. The base of this recipe is so good, you could take out the cherries and replace it with chocolate chips or something else.
1 stick of butter
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/4 plus 2 T white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C oats
3/4 C dried tart cherries, chopped

Beat butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Combine flour, soda, powder, salt, and oats. Mix in well. Stir in cherries. Bake 350 degrees 11- 12 minutes. yum! This only makes two dozen, so you might want to double it.