Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Holy moly. The Bake Sale for Japan was a terrific way to spend a Friday night of baking and a Saturday morning of fundraising, visiting with Austin bakers and bloggers and buying up homemade treats that look good enough to be in a bakery case. I wish I'd reported back on it here sooner, but this time my slovenly ways aren't to blame for putting blogging on the back burner. It's just been a heck of a busy two weeks!
So back to the update: the Austin bake sale raised more than $11,500! Donations were given to Americares to support medical and humanitarian aid efforts for people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. One man walking by with his son bought a bag of cookies and said he'd tell his family members in Japan what people in Austin were doing to help. And really, the bounty these bakers provided was amazing. Three long tables were piled high with cookies, breads, cupcakes, tarts, muffins, cake pops, truffles and on and on. There were vegan cupcakes and gluten-free brownies. Potato chip cookies and Star Wars cookies. Homemade pop tarts, plum jam financiers and huckleberry cakelets (these three were my favorites). There was no shortage of generosity.
And because blogs are about sharing, if not always timeliness, I'll post the recipes for the cookies I brought, the ones in that box above. The ginger molasses chocolate chip ones I'd made several times before, but this time they unexpectedly spread out pretty flat in the oven — the same way the batch of cookies I made for my birthday party did. I started to think I'd lost my cookie-baking mojo. Especially when I also had to abandon my super cute plans for the linzer cookies. Picture two rectangular cookies sandwiching red berry jam that's visible through a round hole in the top cookie — the Japanese flag in linzer cookie form! But with a sticky dough that refused to be cut, I once again had to face my inability to cute-ify and just hoped they tasted good. With a recipe that called for three sticks of butter, not tasting good wasn't even an option.
Mini Linzer Cookies
Yields 36 cookies
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup raspberry preserves (I used the brightest red strawberry jam I could find but something not so sweet would have tasted better)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With half of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a small heart-shaped cutter. [Alternatively, to make small discs without the hole, roll out 1-inch balls and flatten them slightly with your palm on the cookie sheet.] Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners' sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners' sugar on the top.
Cookie dough casting dramatic shadows.
Chocolate Chip Ginger-Molasses Cookies
Yields about 40 cookies
The original version of this recipe from Orangette calls for a half cup of butter and a quarter cup of vegetable shortening, but I went all-butter. And dark molasses and not blackstrap molasses is best here. Also, I've now learned for good how to spell molasses after writing it repeatedly on those labels!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup unsulphured molasses
½ cup demerara sugar, for rolling (I had turbinado)
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk to blend. Set aside.
In a large bowl – preferably, a stand mixer – beat the butter and shortening briefly to soften them. Add the sugars, and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and the molasses and beat to blend well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour mixture in two doses, beating briefly after each until the flour is just absorbed. Do not overmix. Use a rubber spatula to give the dough a final stir if necessary; it will be quite firm and stiff. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for one to two hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Pour the demerara sugar into a small bowl.
Using damp hands, pinch off blobs of dough and roll them into 1¼- to 1½-inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar to coat. Place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Roll only about eight balls per sheet at a time and cover and refrigerate the remaining dough.
Bake the cookies until they are cracked on top but still soft to the touch, about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Cool on the sheets for one minute, then carefully transfer the cookies – still on the parchment or silicone liner – to wire racks to cool completely. When they are cool, remove them from the parchment or silicone liner.
When the baking sheets have cooled, repeat with more dough.