Recipes from Mom: Spinach Phyllo Triangles & Lemon Cookies

Happy Monday, all!

For those of you that asked, here are the recipes for two of the many dishes my mom served at this year’s Easter feast—Phyllo Triangles stuffed with spinach & ricotta cheese to kick off the meal, and sweet-tart Lemon Cookies to end it.

Phyllo Triangles filled with spinach & ricotta. Serve alone or with marinated artichokes.

RECIPE:

Spinach-Phyllo Triangles

Yield: 40-50 pieces

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. frozen leaf spinach (not chopped)
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 whole clove of garlic, peeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing)
  • Parsley (leave from 4 stems), chopped
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 package Phyllo dough (preferably fresh)
  • ½ stick of butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil

Method:

Remove spinach from freezer to defrost. When it begins to soften, use a knife to cut the block into strips, about 1” thick. Once it reaches room temperature you can start pulling it apart. Drain the spinach of any excess water using a colander, or wrap it in paper towels and squeeze the water out.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and add about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, followed by the garlic. The garlic should not be sizzling strongly; you just want it to flavor the oil. Once you see the garlic start to turn a golden brown, remove it and add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.

After the spinach has cooled for a few minutes, add the cheeses, parsley, a generous pinch of pepper and a small pinch of salt, then finally the egg. Mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined.

Combine the melted butter and 4 tbsp. olive oil in a bowl. Remove a sheet of phyllo carefully and set it on a large cutting board or other large, clean flat surface. Brush the phyllo sheet lightly with the butter & oil mixture. Lay a second sheet of phyllo on top and repeat.

Cut the 2 layered sheets into 5 strips. Towards the bottom of the first strip, in the center but towards the right, apply 1 tbsp of the spinach/cheese mixture, and fold according to the diagram below.

How to fill, shape and fold your triangles, courtesy of Mom.

Brush the top and bottom of the stuffed triangle with the oil/butter mixture, and set the triangle on a cookie sheet.  Repeat the process with the remaining phyllo and filling until you run out.  The triangles should be 1.5” – 2” apart on the cookie sheet. Use more if needed.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the triangles for about 25 minutes, until they turn golden all over. Serve immediately, or cool completely and refrigerate for up to one week. Heat before serving.

* * *

Lemon Cookies!

RECIPE: Lemon Cookies

Biscottini al Limone

Yield: 30-35 cookies

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of butter, softened  (4oz)
  • ½ cup of sugar  (4 oz)
  • 2 eggs (large or extra large)
  • 1 ts of Lemon Extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup of milk
  • Icing (recipe follows)

Method:

Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer, then add eggs, one at a time, followed by extract. Continue beating and add the flour mixture, and as it incorporates into the dough, add the milk. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a tablespoon to shape each dough mound into a ball, place each dough ball about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are just turning a light golden brown at the edges.

As the cookies cool, prepare your icing.  You will need:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract

Mix ingredients thoroughly with a spoon or whisk. The mixture should not be watery.  When ready, apply about a spoonful of icing to each cookie and coat with your fingers. Allow the icing to solidify for about two hours.

Serve immediately, or store up to 4 days in a cookie tin lined with wax paper. Do not store the cookies in a plastic container (it makes the icing funky).

A Cookie for the Grown-ups: Sweet-Savory Olive Oil Biscuits

Sweet-Savory Biscuits—perfect with wine.

When was the last time you saw extra virgin olive oil in a dessert recipe?

How about extra virgin olive oil, red wine, black pepper and rosemary in a cookie recipe?

Intrigued? Yes?  Okay, I’ll stop with the questions.

I’m making Sweet-Savory Biscuits for a weekend adventure—the boyfriend and I are going to visit his aunt and uncle, two of my favorite people (and not just because they read this blog).  I chose to make these cookies because their unique flavor & texture make a perfect match for wine & after-dinner drinks, of which the four of us are very big fans.

I have a sneaking suspicion this recipe came from a kitchen experiment.  These cookies are one of Mark Bittman’s variations on his master butter cookies recipe.  Instead of butter, you use olive oil, which requires increasing the flour.  Substitute some of the flour with cornmeal, which lends a wonderful flavor and enhanced texture to the finished cookie.  To make the recipe savory, you decrease the sugar, and add some fresh ground pepper and finely minced fresh rosemary. (You can already start smelling the cookies from the oven, can’t you?)

But we’re not done there! There’s wine!  Instead of using milk as you would for butter cookies, the liquid of choice in this recipe is wine, which adds moisture, flavor, and combines with the green olive oil to make a uniquely colored cookie.  I’ll admit, out of the oven they may not be as pretty as their less savory cousins, but a quick dusting of powdered sugar makes them look as sophisticated as they taste.

Make them this weekend, or make them for Valentine’s Day. These are cookies you share with people you love who love food.

RECIPE:

Sweet-Savory Cookies

From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (2008)

Time: 30 minutes active time / 60-90 minutes inactive time

Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal (medium grind)
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Method:

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, ground pepper, minced rosemary and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream together the olive oil and sugar; add the vanilla extract and egg and beat until well blended.

Add about half the dry ingredients to the bowl, beat for a minute, and then add about three-quarters of the wine. Beat for about 10 seconds, then add the remaining dry ingredients, and the remaining wine if needed—the dough should be soft and moist, but not wet.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours. Then preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using an ice cream scoop, spoon off about a tablespoon and a half of dough from the mound. Gently shape it into a fat disc.  Place each shape about 2.5” inches apart in rows and columns on ungreased baking sheets.

Cross-hatch marks are totally optional, but they do add a cute factor.

Bake until the edges are starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Cool cookies on the sheets before transferring them with a spatula onto a wire rack.  Cool completely, and then dust with sifted powder sugar if you like.

Ta-daa.

Storing:

These cookies can be stored in an air-tight container for 3 days or so; I’ve found they last up to a week when stored in a cookie tin. Be sure to place a sheet of wax paper between layers.

Weight Watchers Points Plus Information:

  • The recipe makes 24 evenly sized cookies, each with a points plus value of 2 (waaay better than I was expecting).

Recipe Re-cap: Holiday Baking Marathon, Part I

Holiday Baking Marathon, Part I has concluded.  I mixed, baked and delivered 8 different kinds of cookies this week.  The experience was fun, incredibly satisfying, and positively exhausting.  I need a nap!

While I go do that, have a look at the some of the highlights:

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(Aside: I really do love the slideshow feature, and I’ll try my best not to overuse it.)

So what did I make this week?

Snickerdoodles, using Martha Stewart’s recipe.  Preparing this dough marked my first experience baking with Crisco.  It’s a very strange substance to look at (and taste), but my, does it make for marvelous texture.  Can’t wait to make a pie crust with the stuff.

Biscotti, the base recipe courtesy of Mr. Mark Bittman.  I made two of my own variations:  Double Chocolate Hazelnut and Cherry Almond.  Almond extract is essential in the latter variation, and adds such a wonderful depth to the flavor of the cookie.  The Cherry Almond biscotti were my favorites, hands down.  I’ll post the recipes when I make more of these cookies this week.

Coconut Lime Butter Cookies, using Bittman’s recipe for butter cookies and making my own variation, adding unsweetened coconut, lime zest and lime juice to the dough, and then rolling the cookies in a mixture of finely shredded coconut and colored sugar before baking.  This experiment-cookie turned out to be a crowd favorite.

Mocha Brownie Cookies, which is a variation on Chocolate Glaciers.  To the base recipe I added finely chopped dark chocolate and 1.5 tablespoons instant espresso.  These cookies are incredibly flavorful; the only thing that makes them cookie-like is their shape.  Biting into one, you’d swear you were eating a brownie.  The Mocha Brownies were the clear winner of the Boyfriend Taste Test award.

Oatmeal Cookies, with dark chocolate, almonds and coconut.  The great thing about Oatmeal Cookies is that you can make endless variations with chocolate, coconut, nuts or dried fruit.  The cookie dough can handle a lot.  My only regret about this recipe was cutting back on the vanilla extract in favor of using almond extract.  Vanilla not only adds a great taste, but it also acts as a flavor-booster, making for a much more richly flavored, cohesive cookie.

Peanut Butter cookies, just a half recipe, but for whatever reason they turned out to be thinner, more crumbly and much more fragile than in previous bakings.  All the flavor was there, but this cookie was a textural disappointment to me.  I’m going to pursue this further as soon as I restock my peanut butter supply.

And, there were the infamous Gingerbread Cookies.  Also a crowd favorite, I think these get the Best Dressed award.

I’ll be doing some more baking (the second part of my marathon) this week for friends and family, though I won’t be sampling any treats until Christmas day.  I’ve had copious amounts of sugar in the past seven days—in the form of dough, baked cookies, and alcohol, this being party season and all.  I could use some vegetable soup and water. Lots and lots of water.

Follow Up: March of the Gingerbread Brigade

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Mission: Successful.

Last night, at about 12:40 in the morning, I finished decorating the small army of gingerbread men and bears (both slender and portly), gingerbread bells and flowers, and a few hearts mixed in.  As I mentioned in an earlier entry, this year’s holiday baking marathon is ambitious, and The Gingerbread Project presented me with many firsts.

It was my first time working with gingerbread dough, plus rolling and cutting cookies (and also as we saw, learning how thin or thick to roll them).  It was also the first time I had ever decorated a baked good—preparing royal icing (easy!), getting it into a pastry bag (a hot mess!), and ultimately getting said icing into a ziploc bag that I fitted with a #2 tip and turned into a pastry bag.  I thought the hardest part would be maintaining a steady hand while I piped the icing, but I got the hang of it quickly.  The cookies, though very cute, do not look perfect—which is the exact effect I wanted to achieve.   They don’t look like they were made by a machine. They look like they were made with love.

If you want the recipe for these cuties, check out Mark Bittman’s recipe for Aunt Big’s Gingersnaps.  I recommend the Molasses-Spice variation at the bottom of the page.  I made a basic royal icing (recipe follows), but next time I do this (Easter?), I want to flavor the icing a little more and give it some depth.  Royal icing is a pretty single-note food.

Recipe: Royal Icing

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons of water, room temperature
  • Vanilla extract, fresh lemon juice, or fresh orange juice (to taste).

Method:

  • Sift the sugar over a large bowl to remove any lumps.  Add the egg whiles, and beat on medium speed until the sugar is completely moistened. Pour the water in a slow steady stream, continuing to beat, and add your flavoring. Continue beating until mixture is completely smooth and somewhat thick but still viscous.  Remove beaters and let the icing rest for about 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, grab a quart-size double zip-top freezer bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and affix a small pastry tip to the end (as you would with a pastry bag).  Once the icing has rested, use a spatula to get it all into the bag, and zip it completely. Now you’re ready to decorate.

There you go, friends.  Go forth and make happy, beautiful, and nattily dressed Gingerbread People.  Next year, I’m dressing my guys up Mad Men style.

 

Cookie Dough or Construction Material: Gingerbread Dough Put to The Test

I don’t typically make pretty cookies.

Well, that’s not entirely true. My cookies are pretty in that they are well made, and look delicious (and are delicious).  But I don’t do character cookies, the really cute ones that look almost too good to eat.  Generally, these are the cookies I leave to the professionals, mostly because I’m afraid of screwing them up.  But this holiday season, I am embracing the challenge to make a really cute and delicious batch of cookies.  And since my Thanksgiving ginger cookies were a huge success, I thought I’d give gingerbread men a try.

I looked through several recipes from a number of well known chefs and bakers: Anne Burrell, Paula Deen, and Nick Malgieri to name a few.   I saw recipes that were heavy on molasses and some that require a mix of molasses, honey and brown sugar  (I imagined that dough had the consistency of super glue.  I saw recipes that called for four tablespoons of butter and others that called for two sticks (1 cup)–a huge difference.  No one seems to agree on the measurements of the supporting spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove).  And one recipe yielded sixteen cookies.  All that work for sixteen cookies?  Um, sorry, but no.

I spent several hours looking for the perfect recipe—and to me that meant one that called for butter as its base fat, had a good balance of spices, yielded at least thirty cookies, would keep for a long time and wasn’t very intimidating.  I only found what I needed when I revisited my cooking manual: Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.  On page 897, I found the recipe for Aunt Big’s Ginger Snaps, with a spiced variation that satisfied my craving for a flavorful and balanced cookie.  The ingredient list and instructions were straightforward, and I knew the cookie would have good body and taste because it had a solid backbone: two sticks of butter, and one cup of molasses. Squee!

The one thing all the gingerbread cookie recipes had in common was that not one of them gave good directions about how to handle gingerbread dough.  This made me a little anxious, especially since I was baking cut-out cookies for the first time, and because molasses, although it goes so well with with ginger, makes cookie dough really sticky and difficult to work with.

I wrote to my friend Andrea, an experienced baker, who compared gingerbread dough to “construction material” when I first brought up the idea of making the cookies.

A dear family friend, Michelle, called it “more trouble than its worth. You have to roll it between sheets of parchment paper, and as soon as it starts sticking, you have to stop and put it back in the fridge.  Hours and hours, it took. I don’t know if I’ll make them again.”

My mother said, “Can’t you just make another cookie?”

Too late. The dough was mixed and in the freezer.  There was no turning back. Besides, I had invested $8 on brand new and super cute cookie cutters (a little man, a bear and a star).  I had to press on.

The only thing to do was conduct some experiments. Work with a small piece of dough, see how long it needed to thaw, and figure out the right thickness for rolling and making the cut-outs.

Attempt 1: I let the dough rest on the counter for 15 minutes.  It was still hard, but I placed it between two sheets of parchment and threw my weight into rolling.  I couldn’t see how thick or thin the dough was, and ultimately I got the dough warm enough that the parchment paper had stuck to it completely. Chilling in the freezer for another 30 minutes didn’t help much, so I had to scrape the dough off the paper with a sharp knife, shape it into a disc and chill again.

Attempt 2: I stuck with the “between the sheets method”, but thoroughly floured the sheets before rolling.  Then I chilled the dough in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting.  Peeling that top piece of parchment was a challenge, but I got it off and worked quickly with the cookie cutters. This time I had rolled the dough too thin (note to self and readers: Bittman’s assertion that you should roll the dough as thin as possible is WRONG).  I made shapes, but they didn’t lift off the paper with the cutters, and I couldn’t peel them off the paper without disfiguring them. A mess!

Attempt 3: At this point my reshaped dough disc had been chilling in the freezer for a half hour, and I made note to let a frozen piece thaw at least 30 – 40 minutes on the counter before rolling.  This time, I got a single fresh piece of parchment, floured that, floured my hands, floured the rolling pin, and gently floured the dough.  I rolled the dough to a 1/4″ thickness on the parchment (I didn’t cover it so I could see the thickness).  This time, I was able to make shapes with the cutters that stuck within them and lifted easily off the parchment paper. Immediately I transferred the cut dough to the cookie sheet (also covered in parchment) before baking.

After 3 attempts to shape these cookies, they finally make it to the cookie sheet.

Into the oven the little buggers went.  Bittman recommends 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Problem is, the dough is dark brown, so how the hell can you see the edges turn golden?  You can’t.  I checked the cookies after 10 minutes and make the mistake on pressing down on one of the cookies.  Still too soft.  I turned the cookie sheet and closed the oven door, checked again at 12 minutes (still too soft), again at 15 (almost there!) and removed at 17 total minutes of baking time.

After baking for 17 minutes

Seventeen minutes in the oven gave me construction material.  The cookies smelled delicious, but were very dark brown, and in some spots black on their undersides.  No chew at all, just a hard “snap!” with a determined bite.  I suppose 17 minutes may be the right baking time for gingerbread house parts, but not for cookies.  Next time, I will check the cookies at 10 minutes, and not let them go beyond 12 minutes.  They will set as they cool in the pan, and moreso while they’re cooling on a wire rack.

Also, as you may have been able to tell from the picture above, I put the cookies too close together.  They need at least 1.5″ of breathing room on all sides, because gingerbread cookies, like Ballpark Franks, plump when you cook ’em.

Before baking

Out of the oven. That's a porky little bear.

I had a pan of plump bears, men, stars and hearts, and one of the men ended up maimed after I tried to separate him from the heart he had fused himself to while baking.

War wounds.

The final test: Taste.  I’m happy to report that I succeeded here.  Bittman’s recipe (the spiced variation) produces a cookie teeming with flavor and just the right amount of zing.  At first bite I was hit with all the spice at once, and then chewing I could taste the cinnamon and nutmeg, and then I got the pop from the cloves.  The ginger is very evident throughout, and leaves a gentle (and welcome) flavor on the tongue.  The richness of the molasses was unmistakable, and the butter produced a great crumble, which would have been even better if I hadn’t overbaked the cookies.

A few other notes:

  • You really do have to throw your weight into rolling this dough (as Andrea had warned me).  Luckily, I developed my upper body strength training with a boxer, so this part wasn’t too hard, though I should have stretched my arms and back before rolling.  Seriously.
  • A lot of recipes will tell you to cut the cookies, take the scraps of dough and reshape the dough into a disc only once more before re-rolling.  I can report that reshaping and rolling several times, as I did for the purposes of my experiment, has no effect on the taste of the cookie, and really shouldn’t have any effect on the texture, provided you’re working with chilled dough.
  • The most important thing I learned, and an idea that my friend Andrea reinforced, is that you have to be working on a solid, dry surface.  I worked the dough on floured parchment, which was placed atop my cutting board.  You can use flour, or powdered sugar, which Andrea suggested.  You could also use your cutting board, “which is good if it’s wood, but marble is the Holy Grail of rolling boards,” Andrea said, because marble will keep the dough chilled.
  • If you’re checking the cookies for done-ness, don’t press on them. As I found out with one of my bear cookies, the dough doesn’t bounce back, and it came out of the oven with a fingerprint on it.

The whole process, while not a huge success, was far from a failure, and now having educated myself on what to do with this challenging dough, I have the confidence to roll, cut and bake the rest of the gingerbread cookies.  As for decorating—well, that’s another story.  I suppose that’ll take some practice, too.

Recipe and photos of the finished products to come!

Sweet Tooth: The Revamped Chocolate Chip Cookie

Meet the cookies.

A lot of my experiments in the kitchen over the last few years have focused on “lightening up” traditional recipes for sweet treats.  Admittedly, weight loss is difficult to achieve when you have a sweet tooth (okay, a mouth full of sweet teeth) and a discerning palette. I don’t do 100-calorie packs or diet cookies. I can taste the fakeness.  I’ve [almost] perfected angel food cake, and meringues of many flavors, but sometimes—many times—I don’t want a light, airy dessert. I want a cookie.

A real cookie.

Chocolate chip cookies were the first cookies I learned to bake. They may be the first cookies I ever ate.  I remember watching my mother get all the ingredients together hours in advance of the actual baking, allowing plenty of time for the butter to soften and for the eggs to get to room temperature. I remember stealing a taste of the dough at every stage of mixing —once the butter and sugar had been creamed together, after the eggs and vanilla had been added, again after the dry ingredients had been mixed in, and finally—blissfully—after the semi-sweet morsels had been stirred in and evenly distributed throughout the dough.

My hand got a few good smacks, and I was chastised repeatedly for eating raw eggs, but I didn’t care.  I thought it was my duty to ensure that our final product was perfect, and you can almost guarantee a perfect cookie when you have perfect dough. I say “almost” because if you bake chocolate chip cookies even a minute too long, you can miss perfection entirely.

That was my thinking, anyway.  I didn’t drink milk as a child (and I still haven’t acquired a taste for it), so I didn’t want a crisp cookie for dunking.  I wanted chewy cookies, and not rubbery-chewy, like the kind of cookies made with applesauce or some other fat stand-in for butter. I wanted the real deal, and I was very quick to detect imitations (ahem, Pillsbury & Pepperidge Farm. I am talking to you).  Those kinds of cookies were readily available at school functions and friends’ houses, but my mother always made Tollhouse cookies, faithfully following the recipe on the back of a bag of Nestlé semi-sweet morsels.  To this day, I still uphold that recipe as the gold standard.

Last Sunday, I was faced with a challenge: I wanted a real deal cookie, and I’d also made a really good effort to plan a series of healthy meals for the week, so I didn’t want to make something that would thwart my efforts.  How to make a real-deal cookie without all the fat in a real-deal cookie?  This is a multi-layered challenge for a number of reasons.

  1. Baking being chemistry, altering the fat content of a classic recipe could produce a disaster, and it has in the past (with applesauce).
  2. Butter guarantees excellent taste, a perfect crumb, and moisture (as do the eggs).  Water or fat-free milk simply would not do.  Vegetable oil?  Sorry, but no.
  3. Chocolate chips are a key ingredient in these cookies.  No fat free substitutions would fit in there.

Ultimately, there was one solution: keep all the good stuff in, but use less.

For guidance, I referred to a recipe from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim’s book, Perfect Light Desserts, “David’s Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies”.  The recipe served as a good starting point: lower in fat, no substitutions for the good stuff, and heavy on the chocolate—perhaps a little too heavy.  So, if I cut back on the chocolate chips, what could I add to the ensemble cast of ingredients that would amp up taste and texture without getting in the way of the show’s star, the wonderful semi-sweet morsels?

Enter Rice Krispies.  Think about it for second.  Makes sense, right?

Many bakers have prepared chocolate chip cookies with Rice Krispies (several recipes are available online).  They add crunch, and an airy lightness to the cookies.  Their sweetness is subtle, but there’s enough of a presence that you can cut back a bit on the white sugar (which I did, by 2 tablespoons from David’s recipe).

But I didn’t stop there. After another scan of my pantry, my eyes spied the finely shredded, unsweetened coconut, and I added some of that to the recipe, too. You know, just because.

The result, friends, is a batch of wonderful, delicious and truly dynamic cookies—chocolaty, chewy and crispy, warmly sweet, and perfectly satisfying.  I sent my boyfriend to work with them on Monday (reserving a few for myself, naturally), and they disappeared very quickly.

Then the compliments flowed in, and I knew I couldn’t keep this one to myself.

RECIPE

Chocolate Chip Rice Krispy Cookies

Adapted from David Joachim’s recipe for Super Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 30 to 35 cookies

For Ronnie

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp 2% or whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup Rice Krispies
  • 3 tbsp finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Method:

  1. Set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or lightly grease them).
  2. Mix the first 3 ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together in mixer with a paddle attachment on medium for about a minute.  (Alternatively you can use electric beaters.) Then beat in egg and milk until they are absorbed, then the vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the flour mixture on low speed until all ingredients are blended together.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips, Rice Krispies and coconut. Make sure all the additions are as evenly distributed as possible.
  6. Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes before baking.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop to form the cookies into 1.25” balls, and set each about 2 inches apart in the pan.
  8. Put cookie sheets in the oven and set the timer for 8 minutes.  At this point you’ll want to check the cookies and see if they’re browning – you want to bake them till they’re just golden to ensure a good balance of chewiness and crispiness.  My cookies took about 10 minutes to bake.
  9. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then using a spatula move cookies to cool on a wire rack.  These cookies are terrific warm (not hot), or at room temperature.
  10. Store between sheets of wax paper in an air-tight container for up to 4 days— if they last even that long.

Weight Watcher Points Plus Info

  • 2 points per cookie

Sweet Tooth: Ginger Molasses Cookies— A Step By Step Guide, Part II

Quick recap: I have adapted The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Ultimate Ginger Cookies, tweaking some of the spices, measurements and the baking time. When last we met, our Ginger Molasses cookie dough had been wrapped in wax paper and put in the refigerator over night.

Now it’s time to bake!

First, grab two cookie sheets, and line them with parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment paper, grease the cookie sheets.  Put about 1/3 cup sugar (granulated or the fancy turbinado stuff is great here, but you don’t want to use brown sugar) into a shallow bowl.  Then grab a spoon, or ideally an ice cream scoop.

Next, set the oven rack to the middle of your oven, and set the temperature to 350(F).  Get the dough out of the fridge, and set up a little assembly line—dough and ice cream scoop, then the bowl of sugar, then the cookie sheets.

Scoop off about a tablespoon size portion of the dough and roll into a ball in your hands. The ball should be about 1 inch in diameter. 

Next, roll the ball in the sugar, covering almost completely.  If you see any bald spots, don’t worry.

Once the dough ball has been rolled in the sugar, place it on the cookie sheet and gently press down on the top, so you have a somewhat flattened, chubby disc shape (I know that doesn’t sound very sexy, but just go with me here). Ultimately you’ll end up with about 45 cookies.

Repeat, and make sure each cookie stands at least 1″ apart from the next.  I was able t fit 15 cookies onto a sheet.  A note: The dough will become stickier the longer it’s out of the fridge, so you’ll want to work quickly.  If the dough is becoming too sticky for you to work with, wrap it up and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes, then continue working.

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, switching the position of the cookie sheet(s) midway through to ensure even baking.  The cookies will crack a bit on top, and the consistency will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Let’s pause for a moment and do some deep breathing.  Smell that aroma?  Mmmm.

Voi-la! Ginger Molasses Cookies.

Okay, so—you’ll want to leave the cookies on the sheets for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely.  You can store them between sheets of wax paper or paper towels in an air-tight container, if they even make it that far.

Epilogue:  A few notes about my recipe versus Ina Garten’s:

  1. My recipe yielded 46 cookies, each about 1.5” to 2” in diameter, because I made them much smaller than Ina’s recipe calls for.  Forty-six cookies yield a Points Plus value of 2 points per cookie. Not bad!
  2. Garten’s recipe calls for ¼ cup vegetable oil.  I found that my Kitchen-Aid mixer (which is stronger than a bull on steroids) started having a rough time with the dough as I was adding the flour mixture – it was just too dry.  So, I added about 2 tbsp of 2% milk, and that added just enough moisture to keep the dough moving. Next time I make these cookies, I’m going to add a tablespoon of oil and cut the milk entirely, and see how that works.
  3. I found 13 minutes was too short a cooking time. In 15 minutes, my cookies were crisp around the edges and nice & soft in the middle.  Perfection!
  4. Also, I found that after 13 minutes, my cookies didn’t crack on top.  That’s okay – if you keep them in too long they’ll burn, so if you don’t see cracking, don’t panic.