It is officially salmon season. Yes, there is a recipe for salmon coming right up, but for now, I will tell you what salmon season means to me: cookies. Dozens upon dozens of cookies. You see, Sebastien sets sail, with his Dad and friend Marc, and to keep energy levels up, cookies must be present. Prawn season consumed about 16 dozen all together- so far they are being set up for salmon with only a several dozen, only because I have done the unimaginable and strayed from my classics. In our family, there are generally four types of cookies, and those are ginger snaps, double-chocolate chip, crispy oatmeal, and peanut butter. Seeing as Sebastien is allergic to peanut butter, that leaves us with having 16 dozen of three different kinds of cookies. Sometimes I throw in the occasional raison variety, but for the most part I have stuck to the basics. This season, however, having the food blog has got me thinking about straying out of my comfort zone. So here we have it- spice molasses, snickerdoodle, mocha swirl, brandy snaps, and brandied cranberry. The three recipes I would definitely repeat are the snickerdoodles, brandy snaps, and brandied cranberry (these were the star of the show).
The spiced molasses was the darker, more intense cousin of the ginger snap, and I must say, it was like swallowing sweet spicy secrets. The thing is, I could only eat half a cookie before I’d had enough. After a while, the bold molasses taste became a little much. This bummed out my cookie munching experience, so if I repeated these I would definitely make them smaller and see how it goes from there.
The snickerdoodles had the most ideal cookie shape, appearance, and texture (crisp edges, soft middle, oh thank heaven). For those not familiar, this is a cookie where cornstarch is used as a binding agent, and it is coated in cinnamon sugar. Not the worlds most exotic or exciting, but very childhood reminiscent of the perfect lunchbox cookie.
Mocha swirls were the kind of cookie I wanted to take into a back alley and pummel. Not a good picture to have when dealing with sugar ‘n spice ‘n everything nice. The dough was dry, crumbly, and yet awfully sticky, making it the worlds worst substance to roll out and shape. I eventually gave up on perfect little swirls and just kind of squished the cookie together. In baking, they were completely unforgiving of any imperfections, as all they did was brown a little. The way they look going in, is the way they look coming out. The texture was less cookie and more mock-shortbread, and the flavour was a nice full mocha. The whole point of this one was to get an attractive cookie, but I must say, they would taste best iced. I don’t recommend bothering to make this one.
The brandy snaps looked very tricky and finicky, but they actually took the least amount of time and dishes to make. The mix is done in one pot on the stove top, and then spooned onto cookie sheets and baked until crisp, then rolled into little flutes. They look very fancy and attractive, so you only have to count on 1-2 per person at a dinner if you wanted to serve them with a little fruit and cream. Very quick, and a nice result.
The brandied cranberry cookies were the star of the show. Festive and flavourful, they were the sister of the classic raison who pulled out a silk gown and draped herself in Christmas lights. In every bight you got a little crunch of toffee, the squish of a white chocolate chip, the tang of brandy, and the smell of fresh nutmeg. As a bonus you get a lot of brandy back from soaking the cranberries, so you can help yourself to a drink while they bake. Completely lovely, these cookies are about to join the official four in the Jackson cookie bible.
Here’s the recipes for the snickerdoodles, brandy snaps, and brandied cranberry. The molasses cookies you can find on http://www.guiltykitchen.com, and as for the mocha swirls, I don’t dislike you enough to even tell you where they came from.
This is a very basic, classic cookie. This recipe was taken as a very close adaptation of Shauna Fish Lydon’s interpretation of this cookie. You can find her at http://eggbeater.typepad.com.
4 Tbsp butter (room temperature, so take out at least 2 hours in advance)
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/3 c granulated white sugar
1 egg (room temperature, so take out with butter)
1 c flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ c sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter until white and fluffy, then add the two sugars. Continue beating until sugar is incorporated the mix is fluffy. Add egg, and beat until smooth.
2) In another bowl sift or whisk together flour, corn starch, baking soda, and cinnamon. Beat this dry mixture into the butter mixture in three rounds.
3) Form dough into small balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
4) Bake for seven minutes, and check. Mine were small enough that they were done at this point, but if the edges don’t look like they are beginning to crisp and the middle is still wet, keep baking and check in two minute increments until done.
The only large dishes used to make these cookies are one saucepan and two baking pans, which is really nice. They also take hardly any time and use very common ingredients, making them very convenient if you want to quickly make a dessert that looks impressive and everyone will like. Serve with some fresh fruit and whipped cream.
¼ c butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1/3 c light brown sugar
¼ c flour
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2) Put the butter, syrup, and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Remove from heat and add the flour and ginger, beating it in with a wooden spoon until well combined. Don’t overbeat this one, so stop as soon as you don’t see any more flour lumps.
3) Measure out 1 Tbsp of mixture per cookie, and drop onto parchment lined trays. Leave 5 inches between each cookie, because these will spread like crazy (I only put five cookies per tray).
4) Bake for 5-7 minutes until light brown and bubbly. Wash the saucepan to ready it for melting chocolate. Pull out and let sit for 20 seconds or so, until you can touch them without getting burnt.
5) The recipe calls for you to roll the cookie disks around the handle of a wooden spoon, but I actually found that I could fit them properly around my wooden spoon because it thickened towards the end. To improvise, I simply rolled them around themselves without any support, and found that they stayed perfectly. You do have to move quite quickly while these cookies are still pliable. If you find that they are crisping and cooling, pop them back into the oven for a couple minutes.
6) Melt the chopped chocolate in a saucepan by putting the pot on low heat and constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Pull off heat as soon as all the chocolate has liquefied. Dip both ends of the rolled brandy snaps in the melted chocolate, and place back on parchment paper to cool. Serve!
Brandied Cranberry Christmas Cookies
This is a very close adaptation of a recipe from http://simplyrecipes.com by the talented Garret McCord, whose own blog is http://www.vanillagarlic.com. I decided to add a little spice, increase the brandy a touch, and back off a little flour for an even chewier cookie.
I c brandy
1 c dried cranberries
1 c butter (room temperature, so take out at least 2 hours in advance)
¾ c white granulated sugar
¾ c light brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature, so take out with the butter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp brandy
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of cloves (fit as much between your forefinger and your thumb as you can manage, and toss it in: this is obviously a very loose measurement, but the idea is you just want a little bit)
2 c flour
1 c chocolate chips
½ c crushed toffee (I used the crumbled inside of Skor bars, which you can buy in the baking aisle, but this is optional)
1) Pour the brandy over the cranberries in a small bowl, and place them in the fridge for minimum one hour (I let mine sit over night because I was baking first thing in the morning). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Beat butter until white and fluffy, then add the two sugars. Continue beating until sugar is incorporated the mix is fluffy.
3) Add the vanilla, and measure out two teaspoons of brandy from the liquid you are using to soak the cranberries. Add the two eggs, and beat well until everything is incorporated.
4) In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to the wet mix, beating it in three rounds until just mixed.
5) Strain the cranberries (saving all that good brandy for a later occasion) and fold them into the mix along with the chocolate chips and toffee pieces.
6) Shape into balls the size of your choice (I use an ice cream scoop for consistent, medium-large balls), and place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, with plenty of room for spreading.
7) Bake for 10-15 minutes until edges brown but middle still has a nice softness.
8) Use within five days, or freeze (does anyone ever even have this problem).