Friday, February 5, 2010

O. M. G.

The first section of the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion is called "The Essentials", which I've been working through. This includes chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, and, brilliantly, BROWNIES. I was getting a little tired of those plain old cookies. The first recipe is Fudgy Brownies and they ARE SUPER DUPER. Two friends and I polished off that plate up there in one sitting. Oh yes we did. Initial reviews include two thumbs up, two chocolate-faced little girls, and a few enthusiastic "OMG"s. Let us have a moment of silence to reflect on how thankful we are for the brownie section of the KAF. Next up: Cakey Brownies and Cheesecake Swirl. 
Fudgy Brownies
3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract**
3 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) (I included neither)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional) (yeah baby, I opted for those)
  • Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan.
  • In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, or in a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, add the sugar, stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) just briefly, just until it's hot, but not bubbling; it will become shiny as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny crust on top of your brownies.
  • Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth, then add the flour, and nuts and chips, again stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. 
  • Bake the brownies for 29 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a tiny amount of crumb sticking to it. The edges should be set, but the center still soft. Remove brownies from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

**one tablespoon seems like a lot of vanilla extract, and I am not normally a fan of a strong vanilla extract presence. But I did put the whole tablespoon into this recipe and could barely taste it, probably because of all that dark cocoa powder.


Boring. That's the bottom line on these. Cakey, not-too-sweet sugar cookies coated in cinnamon and sugar. 
Phoebe actually liked them. She got involved and quit twice during the process, giving these a Phoebe Factor of 4. Mostly she was excited to deliver them to our neighbors. And she actually ate three or four. These cookies got positive reviews from everyone who tried them, and they disappeared fast enough. But I have to say there was nothing special about them. I will promptly forget them. 
I wanted to make these other sugar cookies called Tea Sandwiches, which are two sugar cookies with a creamy filling, rolled in a chocolate coating and toasted nuts. But I wussed out and made these easier ones instead.
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 & 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  • To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, sugar, vanilla, and baking powder, beating until smooth. Add the eggs, again beating until smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl once. Add the salt and flour, mixing slowly until combined. 
  • To make the coating: Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl.
  • Scoop 1 level tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place the ball in the bowl of cinnamon sugar, roll to coat. Place on prepared baking sheets, about 1.5 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch thick. 
  • Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, or until they're golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.