Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Harvest Cookie

I have to admit that when it comes to experimenting with recipes and baking I take it easy, no chances. I pretty much follow that philosophy in everything I do, not take chances. I've never been a dare devil, even as a boy I was not prone to doing things that took a chance. One of the good things about cooking is that there comes a time when you know that things will just work because all of the components that come together are so complementary. This trick worked with I was whipping up a batch of Oatmeal cookies and had the thought, "What about not putting in raisins but craisins and white chocolate chips?" This addition came to become my families top favorite cookie. We make at least one batch of these a week in my house. If you come to my house you will most likely find these in our cookie jar.

My boys have started helping me bake and while I desperately want to pass on my love for cooking to them there are times that their help gives me a twitch. Levi is always the first to come a running, "Dada whatcha doo-wing, I see, can I help?" There is no way you can turn away this brown eyed beauty no way. One of my favorite things in all the world is when he picks up an egg and calls it, "baby kicken." This sprang from him asking me what an egg was to which I replied, "a baby chicken." Ever since then we've been killing and cooking baby chickens! How savage!

Harvest cookies will be added to my list of fav's. I went through an oatmeal scotchie phase about a year ago and passed the phase before I went through all of the butterscotch chips in my pantry. I was originally going to make chocolate chip cookies, but saw half a bag of white chips and a then the three bags of butterscotch chips staring at me and though, "these would go well together, maybe." So, I used my standard chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and used butterscotch chips and white chips instead of chocolate chips. The end result was a delicious, soft, chewy, reminds me of fall cookie. Let's get with the program...the cast of characters:

  • 1 stick Crisco® Butter Shortening Sticks
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (6 oz.) package butterscotch chips (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

My wife does an amazing job of decorating our house for Fall, and Christmas which are our two favorite times of year. She found these cool place mats at Wal-Mart of all places and has used them in the kitchen to adorn the counters. The Crisco is barely in the shot, thanks to my...helpers.

I do want to encourage you to begin practicing getting all of your ingredients measured and ready before you start baking. It really does speed up the process and also let's you know if you are out of something you thought you had (lesson learned over and over). This is a French cooking term called Mis En Place (meezenplahce) which simply means everything in place. This one step will relax your cooking experiences and make everything so much easier.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (is this the new 350?). If you are a parchment/silpat baker go ahead and get your pans ready. I use a thin metal Analon cookie sheet and love it.

With the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, place the brown sugar, Crisco, vanilla, and milk (I added the vanilla to the milk in my OXO mini-measure) in the bowl and mix on medium speed for at least five minutes. You will want to scrape down the bowl and make sure you scoop up from the bottom at least once in this process. I've found that this is a key step in good cookie baking. You really need to get that fat and sugar together and really liking each other...becoming one. If I were a chemist I'd be able to tell you about the chemical relevance to this step, but I"m not, all I know is that this step has made the difference in my cookies outcome. If I under mix the fat and sugar then I don't the texture I like in a cookie. Your batter should look something like this once you have mixed the wet ingredients together. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer (that goes without saying, right?) See how the mixture looks whipped, smooth and creamy. My helpers were ready to start licking at this point. Patience I said, patience. One more thing about having all of your ingredients pre-measured and ready is that you helpers are less likely to spill the ingredients because there is one motion required--the dump.

Once you have mixed this for five minutes add your egg [baby chicken], salt, and baking soda mixing until the egg [baby chicken] is incorporated and not apparent. At this point you will add your flour, slowly so you don't create a flour smog in your kitchen. Turn your mixture down to it's lowest setting (mine says stir) and mix until just combine. The last step is the addition of the chips, mixing to just combine. There was a time when I would not mix flour with the paddle attachment, opting to hand stir. I've since come to my senses and just exercise restraint in the mixing. Only until combined.

The dough looked a little wet to me so I added a little more flour (I adjusted the recipe above with the additional flour so don't worry, it's all fixed upstairs) which helped me get the texture I wanted.

I used my medium spring loaded scoop to portion out the dough on the pan. Bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes. Your cookies will look light brown and with the glories of carry over cooking have a moist chewy texture that is just delicious with a glass of ice cold milk. I had to take a picture of these cookies right out of the oven because I think it goes to show how useful and appropriate a spring loaded scoop is for baking. Uniform and consistent cookies all the same size that will leave you with every cookie baked just right and not having one cookie that is a crouton and one cookie that is play dough. I yielded over 3 dozen cookies (I think it was something like 40 cookies).

The fat content of these cookies means you will not have to grease your cookie sheet. I have a coated Teflon, making it really dark, cookie sheet but think if you were to use a shiny metal sheet that they wouldn't stick at all. The color of this cookie remind me of candy corn, but more of Fall. With all of the golden brown, white, golden yellow bits.

These are a sweet cookie which doesn't bother me. Kendra like, didn't love, but liked them. She's not a super sweet cookie lover though. All three of the kids really like them, I'm guessing because they were really sweet. My Dad and Step Mom happened to drop by for a visit (wound up eating dinner with us) and we served these with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. Dad is not a fan of butterscotch but did like these cookies. I say that to say if you don't like butterscotch then go ahead and give these a try, I think you'll be surprised. I'm sure there are more than a few people who love to add nuts to their cookies--I'm not one of them, but think if you were to add nuts to this cookie it should be pecan or walnut...maybe macadamia.

Fall is a fun time of year and one of my favorite seasons, probably my favorite truth be told. Winter is good, but Fall just has a warmth about it that I find hard to describe. I'll just say Fall is the most comfortable of all Seasons and fits me to a tee.

1 comment:

fran said...

YUMMY! I think these have become my fav cookie! Now try those dried cherries Will!