Dark and Stormy Cookies

I love a nice spicy ginger beer, something that leaves a lingering heat in the back of my throat.  Now pair the spicy ginger beer with a nice dark and spicy rum and a touch of lime and I will be there.  A dark and stormy is a perfect drink at pretty much any time of year – in the winter it’s got that kick from the ginger beer warming you from tip to toe and in the summer serve it with a big glass of ice and it’s insanely refreshing.  I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with the dark and stormy –  maybe it’s because i’m just obsessed with that gingery bite and the warmth of the rum.  But I do know that more than anything since that first sip of dark and stormy I’ve wanted it as a cookie –  not too sweet an with a nice crunch.  Never did I imagine this.

I created these cookies on a whim – they had been germinating in my head for a VERY long time but the timing was never quite right.  I couldn’t find the right base recipe or I was out of ginger, there was always something missing.  And then, this year I signed up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (you can sign up to do it next year here) that Julie and Lindsay organized – a monumental collection of bloggers coming together to pack cookies in boxes and ship them all around the country was a perfect excuse to do what I wanted to do – try recipes and make dark and stormy cookies!  So I did what any responsible adult that grew up in a household of cooking will do, I called my mom.

I asked for a recommendation as to what sort of base to make while flipping through my copy of Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and came across a recipe for Glazed Lemon Cookies – a slice and bake that looked easy enough and that I had all the ingredients for (win).  So I threw the recipe out there – what if I used this recipe and swapped out some flavors for others, did Mom think it would work?  She said yes and then goodbye in rapid succession (she had to go to the farm for turkey time).

So, without further ado – Dark and Stormy cookies inspired by my tendency to be a bit of a lush and encouraged by a great many people along the way.

Dark and Stormy Cookies
Adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook recipe for Glazed Lemon cookies and the glaze recipe for Cornmeal-Lime Cookies from Flour by JB Chang.


Cookies:
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs grated Lime zest (about 1 lime)
2-3 Tbs finely minced candied ginger
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
12 Tbs unsalted butter – cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbs good ginger beer (Reed’s has a great spice, or Barritt’s if you want to stay classic)
2 Tbs dark spiced rum (I adore Kraken – there’s an octopus on the bottle but it also happens to be awesome)

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbs rum
1 Tbs ginger beer
Zest of one lime (optional)

In a food processor combine the sugar, zest, and ginger, pulse until the sugar looks a little damp – about 7 pulses, this will be a little bit sticky.  Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to the sugar mixture, pulse until fully combined – about 10 pulses.  Add the butter cubes and pulse until the whole thing looks like fine cornmeal – 15 pulses should do it.  In a small bowl mix the egg yolk, ginger beer, and rum together until fully combined, pour this into the food processor, run the processor for another 20-25 secs until the whole mixture starts to come together in a ball.  When the dough has come together turn it out onto a parchment lined counter and gently knead whatever loose flour is still a bit loose into the dough.  Form the dough into a log 12-14 inches long by 2 inches wide.  Wrap this log in parchment paper and stick in the fridge for two hrs or up to two days, on the inverse if you want to cool your cookies quickly you can also stick this log in the freezer for 45 mins – but be careful with this as it can get far too firm if left too long.  Once the cookies have firmed up, preheat  your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pull the cookies out of the cold place.  cut the cookies into 3/8 inch wide rounds and arrange them on 2 baking sheets about an inch apart, they don’t spread if they have firmed up enough in the fridge.  Bake the cookies fro 12-16 mins, mine took twelve, rotating the pans halfway through baking so that they are on different shelves of the oven and back to front.  When the cookies have golden brown edges and have puffed a bit in the center they are done.  Pull them from the oven and allow the to cool completely.

For the glaze mix the confectioner’s sugar, rum, and ginger beer together in a small bowl, the mixture should be quite runny.  Line the counter under your cookie racks with parchment paper.  Using a  pastry brush paint the glaze onto the tops of the cookies, in two layers (the first should pretty much soak right in).  While the glaze is still liquid sprinkle lime zest on the tops of the cookies, only do this if you are eating the cookies that day or else the lime gets a bit overpowering.  Now go and share these with someone who loves rum and ginger as much (or more so) than yourself.  they will say thank you.

Nesting Spice Cookies

I love gingersnaps.  I love the crackly sugar coating and the way it yields to a cookie that is sharp and spicy.  I love the depth of ginger, molasses, cinnamon, and clove when they get together for a party.  I love the crunchy snap of the cookie as it crumbles onto my tongue. I am obsessed.  So when I saw this King Arthur Flour blog post about nesting cookies, my thoughts went to spice cookies and all I needed was a reason to make them, which was conveniently delivered in the from of a Merchant Marine friend stuck in Florida and another friend nursing a cold in Minnesota.

These gingersnaps are my thought of a perfect cookie and I have never found their equivilent.  These are the same recipe we used in my high school culinary class.  We used to sell cookies around the school every other Friday and there was one teacher who requested a bag of a dozen every time; how could we say no to that?

The snickerdoodles are also divine; I don’t have the passion for them that I have for the gingersnaps but how can you not love a cookie that is rolled in cinnamon sugar?  More crackle!  More soft yielding sugar!  More cookie perfection!  I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for snickerdoodles, so you can just go over there and snag it if you want to make these; I totally recommend it. 

These nesting cookies will become your favorite cookie the way they became mine. The instant the pans were cooled, the sharp gingersnap married so well with the neutral snickerdoodle that the whole cookie experience became transcendental.  My sister couldn’t keep her hands off of them!  As I tried them for the first time, I said (to the general apartment), “Frack, I’ve found my favorite cookie and it takes twice as much work as any other cookie!”  I then proceeded to eat two more of them before remembering I was giving them away, hem-hem.

These cookies were visually stunning, with the warm gingersnap color and the bright snickerdoodle.  Now if I could just find a way to foist off more of them on people I know. Anyone need a care package?

Nesting Spice Cookies
Based on an idea I read about on the King Arthur Flour Blog
These Crinkly Molasses Cookies are from my Introduction to Baking book from high school (which still has safety sheets for the Hobart in it. Ah love).
The snickerdoodles are from Smitten Kitchen, I add an additional tsp of cinnamon to the dough when making it as well as dipping the cookies in cinnamon sugar.

The most important thing to note for these cookies is to make sure they are of a consistent size; use the same cookie scoop for both sets of dough (or at least matching scoops).  Also make sure the cookie cutter is metal and sharp (the cookies will be very hot, so plastic will not work so well).

Ellie’s Crinkly Molasses Cookies
Makes about 3 doz large cookies (about 3 inches across) and 6 doz small cookies (about 2 inches across).
1 1/2 cups softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup demrera (raw) sugar (recommended but regular sugar works too)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Cream the butter and sugar together with a flat paddle in a stand mixer over med speed or with a hand mixer at medium speed.  Add the eggs and mix to combine.  Add the molasses and mix evenly (my trick:  put a little canola oil in the measuring cup and let it cover the whole inner surface. Then add your molasses. The molasses will slide right out and it won’t be so hard to clean!).  Measure half of the flour, the spices, and baking soda into a sifter and sift them together into the bowl.  Sift the second half of the flour into the bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients in until evenly incorporated, the dough will be a lovely nutty brown.  Put the demrera sugar in a pie plate, allowing it to evenly coat the bottom.  Using a standard cookie scoop (I like 1 1/2 Tbs), scoop the dough out of the bowl into same size balls and drop them into the sugar, coating them completely.  Bake the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet for 8 mins for smaller cookies, and 12 mins for larger ones.

If you want to make nesting cookies (like mine, sooooo pretty and fun):
Make a second batch of cookies that are a different color, I recommend these ones from Smitten Kitchen.
Cook 2 trays of equal amounts of cookies at the same time (I liked to do 8 on each sheet) and pull them out of the oven about a minute before they are done.  Using a metal cookie cutter, cut your desired shape out of the middle of each type of cookie, swapping centers to create a nested effect.  Return the cookies to the oven for another minute so the centers set.  Delicious.  Send/give them to a friend in need of a pick-me-up they will appreciate it.

Baking Cookies for Swapping

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A note for all of you with those good health conscious January resolutions.  I’m sorry.  I try to avoid those resolutions.  There’s something about butter and sugar that makes my life need more of them.  And these practically perfect cookies won’t really help you stick to those resolutions at all.  But they are delicious and so rich you can’t really eat more than one or two of either.  🙂

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I hosted a cookie swap in mid-December and in a terribly haphazard way forgot to put these recipes up for the greater blog-reading world (all of you fantastic readers) to make for yourselves… until now.  These are both truly delicious cookies – decadent in all the right ways.  But I’m a fan of chocolate, so I’m probably a little biased.  Also BF goes over the moon every time I make these macaroons, to the point where he has started to learn the recipe so he can make them for himself when I’m not around.  Love it!

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Mountain Top Coconut Macaroons
I have no idea where this recipe came from but it’s awesome.  I dipped it in chocolate and it was better.

4 large egg whites
1 cup white sugar
dash of salt
3 cups shredded coconut (I try to use a mixture of half finely shredded and half coarse, but use what you’ve got on hand)
1/2 cup flour (I used cake flour because I had it but all-purpose is fine)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-1 semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Finely shredded coconut, for sprinkling

In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler if you’re fancy like that), whisk together the egg whites, sugar and salt until they are warm to the touch and frothy/creamy. The sugar will be fully melted and everything should be a uniform white color.  Remove from the heat.  Add the vanilla, flour, and coconut and stir to combine; it will be sticky.  Cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for an hour or two until the mixture is firm.

Once your cookie dough is firm, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment.  These cookies are a little sticky and parchment can do double duty here to hold the cookies after they have been dipped in chocolate, so I strongly suggest that you use it.

Using a small cookie scoop (about 1 Tbs) scoop the cookies onto the parchment. They don’t really expand, so they only need 1″-1 1/4″  between the cookies; enough so that if they do spread they aren’t stuck together.  Bake them for 10-15 mins, until the tops are golden brown.

Allow the baked cookies to cool for about 15 mins so that they are cool to the touch and then dip the tops in the melted semi-sweet chocolate.  Immediately sprinkle a few shreds of coconut on top of the chocolate and let them harden (20-30 mins).  ENJOY!

Jackson Pollock Lace Florentines
Adapted from The Fannie Merritt Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook, circa 1959 (best one!)
My favorite part of these cookies is getting all Jackson Pollock with the chocolate.  Spatter painting – it’s for more than just canvas.

2 1/4 cups oatmeal, I use old fashioned oats and give them a pulse in my food processor
2 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (Fannie calls for light but I prefer the deep caramel tones of the dark)
3 Tbs flour (I think you could safely add oat or another kind of flour here; its mostly so the sugar has something to hold it together)
1 tsp salt
1 cup melted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, oatmeal, salt, and flour together until evenly combined.  Add the butter and stir to coat everything.   Stir in the egg and vanilla.  Drop in teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet at least two inches apart, these spread (a lot) so don’t be stingy with space.  Bake until lightly browned, about 7 mins.  Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet then move them to rack once they have set.  Be careful, these cookies will burn you directly from the oven, complements of molten sugar.

Once the cookies are cool to the touch, crowd them onto a wide flat surface and go all Jackson Pollock on them with the melted chocolate; leave swirls (if you like fancy) or spatter paint them!  It’s up to you!  Have fun!  I love this part.

Eat them delicately. They will crumble and be luscious.  They will melt in your mouth the way a good piece of caramel should, but they’ll make you feel a little bit okay about it.  After all, they are oatmeal cookies, right?

Blogger Cookie Swap

I can’t believe it’s Christmas already.  BF and I have spent about 12 hours in cars over the past few days and now that we are finally in Syracuse, NY we are relieved.  We spent all last week in a whirlwind of events, shopping, baking, and generally making our last week at home seem like a blur.  We started the week off on Sunday afternoon in Harvard Sq overwhelmed by the choices and fine tuning that Christmas gifts for our immediate family entailed. And those sneaky secret Santa gifts for the rest of the family – those were absolutely terrible as well but for different reasons, challenging to pick out when you only see someone once a year.  When we did eventually emerge from Harvard Square empty handed and irritated with each other we realized the Christmas tree was crooked, and proceeded to enact a scene from the Christmas Story while trying to fix it.

Monday and Tuesday were quiet in comparison to the rest of the week, hanging out at home inert watching movies and generally chilling. But then it was Wednesday, there was a cookie swap (hosted by myself) coming up and I had no cookies yet.  I panicked and made an excess (6 dozen, give or take 2), Jackson Pollock Florentines and Mountain Top Coconut Macaroons (recipes forthcoming I forgot the hard copies on vacation :0), they were delicious, I also used this opportunity to dip peanut butter balls in chocolate (since I wasn’t cooking enough that evening as it was – ha-ha).

Thursday was the grand adventure however – the Boston Blogger Cookie Swap!  This was my first ever cookie swap and it was awesome.  I started the evening by packing up my car with all the things I was bringing (plates, napkins, index cards for cookie id, Sharpies et c.)  and then driving into Harvard to meet the lovely Elizabeth and then head to Whole Foods, who had kindly offered their community room as a space for us to use (Thanks, David!).  We arrived at WF to see Lara waiting patiently for us with a bag of cookies and her phone out, tweeting (Yay, Boston bloggers who tweet!).  We went in and I set up.  As more bloggers trickled in cookies started to appear making us all hungry and eager for delicious.  Mmmm Cookies.

We all sampled everything and decided our favorite was Lara’s Oatmeal Brown Sugar all the way (a cookie I wouldn’t feel guilty eating for breakfast!).  It was so much fun to sample all of the cookies and then bring them home!  I loved attending, and hosting, the cookie swap and I am hoping to make this a Boston Blogger tradition in the coming years.  How else are you able to try such awesome cookies without making them?  All of the cookies were truly delicious too, trying to choose a favorite wasn’t easy there were Egg-nog cookies (Thanks Poor-Girl Gourmet!), Coconut Snowballs, Chestnut Cookies, meringues, biscotti,  and so many more!  A huge thanks to all the bloggers who participated in the Swap it was super fun to get to hang with you all one on one in a less hectic setting!

Thanks also goes out to my Big sister who came and acted as designated photographer, so I was able to have photos while still being social. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and eats some magnificent cookies (try these salted caramel thumbprints, they are awesome!  Tania made them for the swap)!

Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies

I like it when friends have birthdays, there are parties and there are excuses to bake.  We’re not talking about simple things like chocolate chip cookies either, but the things that you save for special occasions – ganache filled cupcakes and hand dipped chocolates, cookies that require the maker to first brown then strain the butter before even adding other ingredients. These cookies are like that, complicted, delicious, and for a birthday.

The first time I made these I vowed to NEVER MAKE THEM AGAIN not because they were too much work, but because they didn’t leave the kitchen.  I barely got them out of the oven when my boyfriend grabbed one off the cooling rack yelling, “Hot hot!,” and ate it with a taunting grin.  I know I should be greatful he realized they were hot, mostly I was irritated that I barely got one before they disappeared.  But the one was a magical cookie, deep rich caramel tones that were fluffy and didn’t even threaten to pull out my million-and-one fillings – I’ll take two please (or would have if there had been two to have).

So here I was asking said friend what she wanted for her birthday and she asked for these, of all things.  I tried to dissuade her, “Are you sure you don’t want gingersnaps?” I wheedled.  She was steadfast and I was stuck covertly making delicious, decadent cookies hoping my TF2-playing-boyfriend didn’t notice the kitchen bustle.  He did.  I lost two cookies before I was able to seal them in a Ziploc bag marked “FOR NIKKI DO NOT TOUCH” (admittedly he did get a consolation prize of coconut macaroons, which were fine but nothing to write home (or here) about).

So without further ado, caramelly, rich, crackly infinitly amazing Brown Sugar Sugar cookies.

Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies
Adapted, very slightly, from Cook’s Illustrated

Note: These cookies can be frozen, premade, for later usage and eating (but I would strongly recommend a double batch in that case)

Ingredients
14 Tbs unsalted butter (I use half Salted hlaf unsalted but it doesn’t really matter)
2 Cups packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 Cups plus 2 Tbs All Purpose flour
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt (use a little more if you are using all unsalted butter)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbs Vanilla (it really is neccessary, DON’T SKIMP HERE)
1/4 cup granulated raw sugar (i prefer the raw but don’t go get it especially regular granulated works fine)

Heat 10 Tbs of the butter in a light bottomed sauce pan over medium until melted and nutty brown, it will smell rich and there will be some solids in the bottom, stir the butter nearly constantly and watch it like a hawk or IT WILL BURN (and that is sad).  Transfer the melted butter to a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the butter to melt.  Let the melted butter mixture cool to room temperture, this should take 10-15 mins.

Place oven rack in the middle position and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Mix the raw sugar and the brown sugar together in a small bowl (bowl 2) until even and set it aside, you will use this later to dip the rolled cookies in.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into another bowl ( I know bowl 3 is a little confusing try to keep up) and set it aside.

Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups of Brown sugar to the melted, delicious, butter and stir it until there are no lumps 30-45 seconds, it will be a very dark and molasses-y looking mixture -that is OK.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla mix it all until fluffy-ish and incorporated, another 30-45 seconds.  Side note: recipes alwasy say “mix until fluffy” when they really mean mix it until eveything is incorporated and it looks a little mor opaque than before, because lets face it – you’re not making whipped cream here. Add the flour mixture (from bowl 3) to the liquids (bowl 1) and mix until just combined ~1min.  This mixture will be a little stiff, that is okay – brown sugar and butter will do that.  Give the dough one final stir and scrape the bowl to check for even distribution.

Scoop out the dough in 11/2 to 2 Tbs balls (really don’t try to make these smaller they’re better as a chewy cookie) and roll in in the sugar mixture to coat evenly.  Stick the doughballs on cookie sheets 2-3 inches apart and cook them fro 12-14 minutes.  The cookies will begin to crack on the tops and look a little raw, they’re not.  Also if your cookie is getting dark on the edges its been in there too long and you should maybe eat that one as a tester… you know for the sake of the cookies.

Cool the cookies for 5-10 mins on a rack and hide them a… wait that wasn’t what I meant. 

ENJOY!