Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

I was going to bake a cake for Valentine's Day to share with my coworkers, but at the last minute I decided to make cookies instead, and here's why: it's much easier to taste-test cookies than a cake. It would be fairly obvious if I brought a cake to work and and it was missing a corner because I wanted to taste it.

So I made Brown Sugar Cookies. I regulary watch America's Test Kitchen, which airs on PBS here on Saturday mornings, and that's where I got this cookie recipe. Have you ever seen this show? It's great. They take a typical everyday food, explain why it just plain sucks, and then they show you how to really make it taste good. One episode they featured pasta salad, and the guy brought a container of generic pasta salad from the grocery store and dumped it into the bowl. "Look at this! It's gross! All mayonnaise and no flavor!" Then they proceed to cook the most amazing-looking, wonderfully flavored pasta salad that has just the right amount of mayonnaise, and the pasta isn't sticky, and all of a sudden you have a huge craving for pasta salad.

There is a catch, however. They advertise that you can get all of their recipes on their website, but in order to do so you have to pay a monthly fee. Yuck to that. So I was determined to get this cookie recipe for free. I sat in front of the TV with my pen and paper ready. I jotted it down as quickly as I could. The lady who was making the cookies was listing out the steps. "Brown 10 tablespoons of butter, roughly 2 to 4 minutes, and then add 4 tablespoons of cold butter to that mixture, to stop it from browning. Remove from heat, and set aside." All good, I think as I jot this down. This is easy - they are giving me the entire recipe! "Now, you take two cups of flour, some baking soda and baking powder, and sift that together." What? How much is "some?" This was disturbing for me, because up until this point, they had given me every necessary measurement for the recipe, except how much baking soda and baking powder. Ugh, how evil! I suppose they do this so you are forced to pay and subscribe to their website...because who really knows how much baking soda and baking powder to use in a recipe like this? No one.

But I wanted to attempt it anyway. Take that, America's Test Kitchen! And they didn't turn out that bad at all! I decided to use 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. They did turn out a little flat, so maybe next time I'll increase those amounts. For any bakers out there...if you have any idea how much I should use, please let me know. Like I said, they turned out fine (and my coworkers love them!), but I think they could be better. Or at least not so flat.
As you can see, I also rolled them in red and white sugar, in honor of Valentine's day. You will also notice that the finished cookies are weirdly shaped. I must have made the balls too big, or put them too close together, because I had to cut them apart once they came out of the oven. But they still taste good!


Brown Sugar Cookies
adapted from America's Test Kitchen - those jerks

14 tbsp butter, divided
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350. Melt 10 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue stirring until the butter browns, roughly 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat, and drop in the remaining 4 tbsp cold butter into the melted butter. Let sit until all butter has melted.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and set aside.

Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together. Stir in the egg and egg yolk. Gently fold in the flour mixture, making sure not to mix too much (I think this was also why my cookies turned out a bit flat).

Roll into 1 inch balls, and roll them in sugar (the show says to roll them in brown sugar and white sugar, but I opted to roll them in colored sugar instead). Place them 2 inches apart on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake one pan at a time, for 12-14 minutes. Turn cookie sheet around half-way into the baking time. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and place on cookie rack to cool completely.

2 comments:

Cicada Studio said...

I like when ATK does basics like meatloaf. Yeah, I've had bad meatloaf... funny how you can screw up something so simple! 'course when they do, it's not always so simple as you think.
These cookies look yummy!

Tricia said...

YUMMY!!!!
I looooove cookies!!