how the cookie crumbles

food detective

Categories: Desserts, Dinner for Two, Supper, Dinner Party, Lunch, Posted on December 21, 2021 by Sandy Bergsten

You know when you see people on social media, and they seem like they have it all together? I have to confess I was feeling a little high on my holiday horse and thought I’d flaunt my newly acquired baking skills for my next post. I was inspired earlier this month by the NYT’s interactive article on the 24 Days of Cookies. Being a crunchy salty gal with not much of a sweet tooth I tackled the savory cheese coins, then on to the certainly sweet MM cookies to surprise my visiting grandsons. On a roll I ventured to make a big batch of homemade animal crackers for my daughter’s family holiday gathering that I found on this intense cookie baking website. 

As the little ones toddled around with fistfuls of my royally iced reindeer, polar bears and squirrels, I imagined myself as an actual holiday baker.

My newfound skills sugar-fueled my baking ambition. I thought what holiday is complete without gingerbread men. So last night I once again pulled out my trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer and following Sally’s Baking Addiction’s explicit directions… beat my butter for a minute on high. Then weighed my sugar and unsulphured molasses on a scale, added that and beat on high for another two minutes. I was on a cookie high when all of a sudden it sounded as if my kitchen was being bombarded with shrapnel. I turned to see my mixer heaving to and fro on the counter. The locked top buckling up and down like one of the bull’s in my stepson’s bull riding show. It was if the mixer was possessed by something out of the “Exorcist” rather than the sugary sweet holiday movie I had on the kitchen TV. Maybe the holiday sprites were punishing me because they knew I was a baking poser! I looked at the mixer and didn’t know what to do… so I closed my eyes (like that would help) and lunged forward to pull the power cord out of the wall socket. I couldn’t believe what just happened.  I caught my breath then like a moron I plugged the mixer back in and it almost took me out. 

Turns out the metal cap that covers the attachment feature on the Kitchen Aid (that I have never unscrewed to attach an attachment) had come loose while I was beating the hell out of my butter, sugar and molasses and fell into the metal bowl with the metal paddle going full force. To all those novice bakers with fancy mixers… make sure that cover/cap is tightly secured. I don’t think I ever thought to tighten it in the past ten years.

Disheartened I finished the cookies with my hand mixer. I prepared the dough disks and put them in the refrigerator according to Sally’s doctrine. Then at 6:45am the next morning I figured my mixer had certainly repaired itself (not being a baker nor a mechanic) and proceeded to make a batch of animal cracker dough for my grandsons who would be arriving next week. As I creamed the butter the locked mixer head bucked and heaved. I reached for the power cord as I realized the entire motor mechanism was severely out of alignment. With that I finished the dough with my hand mixer.

At 9 am I started calling appliance repair places. Fifteen calls in and no one repairs small household appliances in the Coachella Valley. I sat on hold with Kitchen Aid for an hour and a half. While I waited, I decided to google how to fix the problem myself. Some Youtuber said I should put a dime in the metal bowl with the metal paddle and if on medium the paddle moves the dime in quarter in inch increments it should be fine. When I turned it on my paddle almost crushed the dime into my metal bowl. Once again, I pulled the cord out of the socket and caught my breath. The video said I should take a flat head screwdriver and turn the screw under the mixer head a half turn counterclockwise, then turn on the mixer to see if it moved the dime properly. Well.. the dime careened against the metal bowl then projected itself toward my head. I gasped and tugged on that power cord for the last time. With that I bowed my head, tail between my legs, I went to William and Sonoma and ordered a new mixer.

This holiday season I am lucky to be intact. And that said… the cookies I made from the NYT were awesome. Here is what I was going to post before I almost killed myself with a stand mixer.

These savory cheddar cheese coins from Kay Chun are addictive.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine three quarters cup of flour, three quarters teaspoon black pepper, half teaspoon kosher salt and a quarter teaspoon paprika.

Add one cup of finely shredded extra-sharp Cheddar and a third cup of freshly grated Parmesan.

Pulse until well combined and sandy, about 30 seconds. 

Add five tablespoons cold unsalted butter.

And a third cup finely chopped scallions (when you click on the recipe above it lists everything in weight. I find for a successful outcome weighing all your ingredients yields the best results).

Pulse just until well blended, about 30 seconds. Continue pulsing and drizzle in 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water just until the dough comes together.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. 

Roll each half into a log that is one inch in diameter and about twelve inches long. 

Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. In the comment portion of the article, one wrote to cut a paper towel roll in half lengthwise and rest the dough in the half tube so it doesn’t flatten in the refrigerator- brilliant!

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Using a sharp knife, slice chilled logs into ½ inch-thick slices. 

Arrange the slices on the prepared sheets about ½ inch apart. Bake, switching the sheets from top to bottom and rotating halfway through, until golden and just firm (they will continue to crisp up as they cool), for about 23 to 25 minutes.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them onto wire racks to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate for up to 1 week. To re-crisp after refrigerating and serve warm, heat in a 350.

The recipe is easily be doubled. The dough can be made one month ahead and kept frozen wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in a resealable plastic bag. When ready- thaw cut and bake. Makes about 4 dozen coins.

These sweet M&M cookies by Eric Kim are sugary treat.

In a large bowl place one half cup very soft unsalted butter, one cup granulated sugar, one quarter cup packed brown sugar, a large room temperature egg, one tablespoon vanilla and one teaspoon kosher salt.

Whisk together by hand until smooth and fluffy, for at least one minute. 

Whisk in one quarter teaspoon baking soda, then with a rubber spatula add one and a half cups flour.

Carefully coarsely chop the M&M's (they have a tendency to fly everywhere- an apparent theme for this post).

Add them to the bowl and gently stir to combine. Place the bowl in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 large sheet pans with parchment. 

The dough can also be made several days in advance and refrigerated.

Using two spoons or a cookie scoop, plop out one-tablespoon rounds spaced a couple of inches apart on the sheet pans. (You should get about sixteen cookies per pan.) 

Bake until lightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on the sheet pan; they will continue to cook as they sit.

The dough can be made weeks in advance. Portion out, place on a cookie sheet, cover and freeze. Once frozen transfer to a Ziploc bag. Thaw the dough balls on a parchment covered baking sheet then bake according to the directions above. Makes about thirty two cookies.

Hope you have a happy, healthy and injury free holiday season!

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