Cast Iron Cookies

It’s no secret that I love my cast iron skillets. I use them about three times a week (sometimes more), and my copy of “Cook it in Cast Iron” spends more time on the counter than it does in the closet.

It’s also no secret that we love chocolate chip cookies around here. Out of all the cookies in the world, chocolate chip cookies are Andy’s favorite. So, when I saw the giant skillet cookie recipe in the dessert section of “Cook it in Cast Iron,” I figured it would be a hit.

Of course, it is a recipe from Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen, which means it’s going to be different from your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe. There’s browned butter (be still my beating heart… all that extra flavor), and there’s also this process of whisking the ingredients for 30 seconds, then letting them rest for a few minutes, and then repeating the whole process a couple more times. And, unfortunately, the book doesn’t explain WHY this step is important. And who knows, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s ATK’s way of messing with us rule-followers. Maybe Jack Bishop is secretly laughing about all of us suckers who are whisking and resting, whisking and resting. Who knows. I don’t even care, actually. This cookie so good that I’ll keep whisking and resting, even if it doesn’t make sense.

In spite of the extra whisking steps, it’s not a hard recipe to make. It mixes up quickly, and it takes less than 30 minutes to bake. And if you use a kitchen scale, you won’t even have to get out your measuring cups. (Fewer dishes! Yay!) The hardest part is waiting for the cookie to cool slightly so you don’t burn your tongue on melted chocolate chips. The only change I make is to sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top of the cookie prior to baking for that sweet-salty flavor combination.

SkilletCookie

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

12 tablespoons unsalted, butter, divided
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup, packed) dark brown sugar
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
8 3/4 ounces (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, for finishing, optional (but not really…) 

Preheat the oven to 375° and make sure the rack is adjusted to the upper-middle position.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together, and then set it aside.

In a 12″ cast iron skillet, melt nine tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the butter is a deep golden brown and smells nutty. The butter will foam at first, but this should die down as the butter cooks.

Place the remaining three tablespoons of butter in a large mixing bowl and pour the browned butter over it. Stir the butter until the last three tablespoons melt completely.

Whisk the sugars, vanilla and salt into the butter until smooth, then whisk in the egg and egg yolk. Whisk this mixture for about 30 seconds, then all the mixture to rest for three minutes. Whisk the mixture for another 30 seconds, and then allow it to rest again for three minutes. Repeat this whisk-rest process two more times. By the end, the mixture will be thick, smooth and shiny.

Add your flour mixture to the egg-butter-sugar mixture, and stir until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips, making sure that no pockets of flour are left in the dough.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and then spread the dough into the pan. Smooth the dough into an even layer and top with a pinch of sea salt, if using.

Bake the cookie until it is golden brown and the edges are set, about 20 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and allow cookie to cool slightly before serving. (Cook’s Country says to wait 30 minutes for this. If you can make it that long, you have more willpower than anyone I know.) Cut into slices and serve.

From Cook It In Cast Iron

Click here for a printable version.

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Cookie Time! 

Look at my latest library find!

THePerfectCooki

Unfortunately, it was a short loan, so I had to give it back after only two weeks, but it was fun to look through! There were lots of recipes that caught my eye, but I only had a chance to try three  – butterscotch meringue bars, s’mores blossom cookies, lemon sour cream cookies and salted peanut butter pretzel chocolate chip cookies. Out of those four, the peanut butter pretzel cookies were my favorite, and I got to make them with two of my nieces over Thanksgiving. (I brought the book back to Ohio, and they picked out the recipe I wanted to try most. They have excellent taste!) 

I snapped pictures of a few more recipes that look intriguing, and I’ll probably try those out over the next few weeks. It’s cookie season, after all!

Speaking of cookies, would you believe that I didn’t make a single Christmas cookie this year? Food blogger fail. Things just got away from me this year. I won’t have time before Christmas to bake anything now, but Andy pointed out that I could make a batch the day afte Christmas. It’s supposed to be crazy cold, so spending some time with the oven wouldn’t be the worst thing. 🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Stepping Out of My Element

I’m pretty selective when it comes to recipe sources. I have my top tier sources (primarily Smitten Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Illustrated / Cook’s Country), and my line of solid back-ups (headlined by Elly Says Opa!, The Brewer and the Baker, Annie’s Eats and Farm Fresh Feasts), but, aside from a few other blogs and magazines, I generally don’t stray too far.

After all, a pretty Pinterest picture doesn’t mean the recipe will actually be successful. (Yes, I’m the only woman in the western hemisphere who hasn’t fallen down the Pinterest recipe rabbit hole, and I’m OK with that.) And even though I love spending time in the kitchen, I don’t want to waste my time there. If I’m cooking something, I want it to be worth the time and ingredients.

That’s why this recipe surprised me. Someone (my Grandma, maybe?) shared a link to it on Facebook, and since I was knee-deep in rhubarb at the time, I thought it was worth investigating.

These make a very soft, cakey cookie. They’re best in the first day or so, as the moisture causes the cookies to stick together in the container. The flavor is great, and they mixed up in no time – chopping the rhubarb took the most time! I found a science experiment growing in the sour cream tub when I opened it, so I subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream with no ill effects.

I realized afterwards, though, that my cookie scoop is about twice the size of the scoop called for in the recipe. Which explains why I got about two dozen cookies when the recipe yield said 40. I liked the size of the cookies from my 2-tablespoon scoop, so I’ll probably keep making them that way. No one ever complained about a bigger cookie, right?

I’m not sure if the recipe would work with frozen rhubarb, unless it was really, really well-drained. So, I might just save these for spring baking. It never hurts to have another seasonal dessert. And maybe I’ll try recipes from new places more often!

RhubarbCookies

Rhubarb Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely diced rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 350°  and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the first four dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well-combined. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until well-combined.

Add about one-half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Stir in the rhubarb and mix until the rhubarb is evenly distributed throughout the batter and no pockets of flour remain.

Use a cookie scoop to drop tablespoon-ish sized scoops of the batter on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2″ apart.

Bake until the cookies start to brown along the edges and just a little on the top, about 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

From the Today Show

Click here for a printable version.

Beer Cookies and Cream

Remember when I first made beer cookies? I was convinced that they’d be perfect for ice cream sandwiches. It may have taken me more than six months to test that theory, but good things come to those who wait, right?

That theory definitely held true in this case. The frozen cookies aren’t quite as soft and chewy straight as the fresh-from-the-oven cookies (no surprise there, right?), but the flavor goes perfectly with vanilla ice cream.

I used the same ice cream base from the rhubarb ice cream sandwiches, and it worked perfectly. I lined a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper and spread the freshly-churned ice cream in the bottom of the pan before putting it in the freezer for a few hours. Once it was frozen solid, I used a round cookie cutter to cut out perfectly round circles of ice cream. (I have several round “biscuit cutters,” so I chose one that was closest in size to the cookies.)

I had stashed half a batch of cookie dough in the freezer, so all I had to do was mix up the ice cream base and bake a few cookies while the ice cream hung out in the freezer. Easy, and perfect for a football Saturday.

The only downside to my plan was the fact that we had been snacking on the frozen cookie  dough for a while, so when I went to bake the cookies, I discovered that there were only 16 balls of dough left in the bag. And, naturally, Andy and I each had to “sample” a plain cookie after they came out of the oven (for quality control purposes, of course), which left me with 14 cookies. Which means I only got 7 sandwiches. I’ll have to plan better next time.

beercookieicecreamsandwiches

Brown Sugar & Ale Ice Cream Sandwiches

Note: I am not sure how many sandwiches this will yield. It will depend on how many cookies you have and what size the cookies are. If you start with a full batch of cookie dough, it’s possible that you will need more than one batch of ice cream. 

For the cookies: 
1 batch (more or less… we had significantly less) of Brown Sugar & Ale Cookies

For the ice cream:
5 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the ice cream, combine the milk, one cup of the cream, sugar, salt and the vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually add the warmed milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until the mixture is warm and well-combined. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Place the remaining cup of cream in a large glass bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over the top of the bowl. Pour the cooked custard through the strainer and into the cream. Mix the custard and the cream together and add the vanilla extract.

Cover the bowl and cool the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it’s thoroughly chilled. 

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper, leaving an overhang on the edges. Spread the churned ice cream in an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer until the ice cream is frozen solid.

While the ice cream is firming up, pair up the cookies by size and select a round cookie cutter to cut the ice cream.

To assemble, use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds of ice cream. Sandwich the ice cream rounds between two cookies. Continue until you run out of cookies or ice cream, whichever comes first. Place the sandwiches in an airtight, freezer-safe container and return them to the freezer so they can firm up before serving.

Cookies from Erin’s Food Files, originally adapted from the Beeroness. Ice cream base adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from “The Perfect Scoop” by David  Lebovitz.

Click here for a printable version.

Beer Cookies?

It took a long time for me to come around to beer. I want whatever I’m eating or drinking to taste good, and my early experiences with beer didn’t do anything to convince me that it was worth the calories. I’ll take an extra-dark, fudgy brownie instead.

However, I’m not opposed to trying new things, so when a friend offered me a sip of a craft beer, I gave it a try. And, to my surprise, I liked it. So much for just being a wine and margarita girl. 😉

Of course, discovering a new food (or drink) love opens up a whole world of new recipes, so when I saw this recipe come through my RSS reader, I was immediately intrigued. Cookies? Beer? Could this be good? Unfortunately, my “recipes to try” list grows faster than I can keep up with, so the recipe got lost in the clutter for two years a while.

I finally got around to trying them this past weekend, and wow. They were even better than I thought they’d be. In fact, Andy said they were as good as chocolate chip cookies, which is the pinnacle of greatness in his mind. We shared them with Arron and Karen, and they liked them just as much as we did. They’re perfectly soft and chewy, which is a non-negotiable for me.

I’m not a craft beer expert by any means, so I looked for something that said “brown ale” on the label, and Fat Squirrel fit the bill. And after finishing the bottle (you know, so it wouldn’t go to waste), I’m glad I picked it. At first, the flavor of the ale was very subtle in the batter, but the longer the batter sat in the fridge, the more pronounced it became. It’s not overpowering, but it definitely adds something special to the cookie. I think they’d be a great base for an ice cream sandwich too.

I doubled the recipe, since Erin said that I’d only get 12 cookies out of a single batch. I must have made them smaller than she did, since I had significantly more than 24 cookies when I was done. I’m including the double batch below, because more cookies are always better. Especially when they’re this good.

The real name of the recipe was “Chewy Brown Sugar and Brown Ale” cookies, but I shortened it to “Brown Sugar and Ale” cookies for the blog. Of course, that’s still a relatively long name for a cookie, so we’re just calling them “beer cookies.” Move over, milk and cookies; beer and cookies are here to stay. 🙂

BeerCookies

Brown Sugar & Ale Cookies

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup brown ale
2 1/2 cups AP flour
2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
granulated sugar, for rolling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar. When the butter and sugar are well combined, add the egg yolks and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy, then add the beer. Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl (I used my 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this step, for easy pouring), whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. (Start with the mixer on low for this step. Trust me.)

Use a cookie scoop to roll the dough into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter, or slightly smaller than a golf ball. Roll the cookie dough balls in the granulated sugar and then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill the dough in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Place the chilled dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, being sure to leave plenty of space between the cookies, as they spread a lot during baking. (I was able to fit 8 cookies on a single large cookie sheet.)

Bake for 14 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown. Remove the sheet from the oven and slide the parchment paper off of the cookie sheet and on to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper.

Store in an airtight container.

As seen on Erin’s Food Files, originally adapted from the Beeroness

Notes:
Erin says that you can bake the cookies at a higher temperature for a shorter time, which will result in a puffier cookie. I didn’t try this, as we loved the cookies with the 325 degree/14 minute bake.

I rolled about half of the dough into balls and then froze them (as described above), but we decided to go cross-country skiing halfway into my cookie baking project, so I put the rest of the dough in the fridge to shape/roll when we returned. I didn’t notice a difference in the cookies that were rolled then chilled versus chilled then rolled, so I think it’s safe to say that you could do whatever works best for you.

Click here for a printable version.

Chai Snickerdoodles (for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!)

When I signed up for this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I had no idea what to make. In previous years, I’ve at least had an idea of the flavor I was going for, but this year, nothing was coming to me. How is this possible? Especially when Google comes back with 105,000,000 results for “cookie recipe.” 😛

Then, one day, my coworker shared an almond cookie with me, and it hit me! Almond! I love almond! And do you know what goes perfectly with almond? Cherries! I love cherries! Plus, Andy and I picked cherries in Door County this summer, which meant I had a nice little stockpile for baking. Since I’m a big fan of eating local food, the idea of incorporating a local ingredient really appealed to me, especially since sour cherries aren’t something that’s readily available everywhere. It would be a little taste of Wisconsin for my food blogger buddies. I’d simply convert my lemon-cranberry cookie into a cherry-almond cookie. What could possibly go wrong with this?

Well… cherries, even when frozen, have a LOT more juice than cranberries, which meant that the cookies spread a lot more when they baked, and they didn’t look pretty AT ALL. And while I’ve shared plenty of ugly pictures/food on here, I wanted to send people something that looked somewhat appetizing. I was also concerned with how they’d hold up in the mail, since they didn’t seem quite as sturdy as the original recipe. So, even though the flavor was everything I’d hoped for, I went in a different direction. If I’d had more time, I’d have tracked down some dried Door County cherries and tried a batch with them. However, between Thanksgiving travel and the cookie swap deadline, I knew I wouldn’t have the time to go that route. Time for plan B. (I did end up sending a few of the “failure cookies” in each package so my recipients could taste them, and Andy gladly ate the rest of the failure cookies. The sacrifices he makes…) 

The inspiration for my second batch of cookies actually came from another work moment. We were talking about snickerdoodles, and I started thinking that it had been a while since I’d made them. And with their warm, fall spices, they seemed like the perfect cookie to bridge the gap between fall/Thanksgiving and winter/Christmas. I added ginger and cardamon to take the cookies from “standard snickerdoodle” to “Chai snickerdoodle.”

Let me introduce you to my cookie recipients, and then I’ll share who sent cookies my way!

I sent cookies to Nina at Crazy for Cookies & More (She’s from Ohio! I was so excited to send stuff to my home state); Jennifer at Girl on the Range (I was blown away by the pictures on her blog! So pretty!);  and Matt at Kitchen Man Cooks (The man has an apple crisp recipe from and center on his blog – yum!!).

The only thing more exciting than sending cookies is receiving them, and as the shipping deadline approached, I was more and more excited to check the mail when I came home from work. I mean, boxes of cookies are so much more exciting than the electric bill.

The first package to land on my doorstep was from Jessica at Citrus Blossom Bliss. A girl after my own heart, she sent snickerdoodles to me! Only, she stepped it up and added white chocolate chips to the cookies. Yum yum yum. She included a cute cookie cutter as well. Oh, and you know the trick where they say that a piece of bread will keep your cookies soft? Jessica put a slice of bread in with the cookies, and it totally worked! I’d never tried that before, but I think I will next time. So smart. 🙂

Krista at Destination Delish sent box number two! They were (are you ready for this?) Dark Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Rosemary Shortbread Cookies. So… kind of weird-sounding, right? I LOVED them. Andy wasn’t sure at first, but they had the same addicting properties that my apricot shortbread cookies seemed to have. Maybe it’s the butter in shortbread. Who knows. Either way, I am heading over to her site to snag the recipe ASAP. (Thanks to our crazy warm weather, my rosemary plant is still going strong.) I loved the cute tin that she sent as well! Paying it forward and using the tin for another food gift!

My last box contained some of the cutest bear cookies ever from Amanda at From Me to Vuu. Thanks!!

Finally, thanks to Julie and Lindsay for organizing / hosting the swap! I really enjoy it and appreciate all of your hard work! (Psst! Want to be involved next year? You get great cookies!) 

Chai Snickerdoodles 2

Chai Snickerdoodles

For the cookie dough:
2 3/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs

For the cinnamon-sugar mixture: 
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until well-combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture.

In a small, shallow bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.

Roll the cookie dough into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture and then place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake cookies until they are light golden brown on the edges (1oish minutes in my oven, 12-15 according to Martha). Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Side note: Snickerdoodles make EXCELLENT ice cream sandwich cookies, if you happen to have some vanilla bean ice cream floating around. Just throwing that one out there. 😉 

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Cookies

Click here for a printable version.

Here we go again!

That’s right, I’ve signed up for this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It’s so much fun to get cookies in the mail, and I love seeing what other food bloggers have come up with. In addition to spreading cookie goodness around the world, the swap helps raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Win-win, if you ask me. 🙂

This will be my fourth year participating, and, I actually have NO idea what kind of cookies I’ll make this time around.

In previous years, I’ve sent a family favorite, a chocolate-mint version of the “Hershey Kiss” cookies and what’s basically fall in a cookie – maple and brown sugar. So, what should be next? Something with fruit? Or brown butter? There’s always the chocolate-peanut butter combination… good thing I have a few weeks to figure it out!

Interested in participating? There’s still a week to sign up… and who knows, you could get cookies from me! 😀