Monday, November 29, 2010

Old Fashioned Cookies

I have been looking at all the cookie recipes for the LA Times Cookie Contest.  This "old fashioned cookie" is very big and has a soft texture. The flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg seem to be more prominent the day after baking.  This cookie is supposed to be plain or topped with raisins. I opted to put chocolate chunks on top of mine.

The cookie batter was quite difficult to deal with.  It was very sticky, even though left in the fridge overnight.  Since it is a cut out cookie, I used floured parchment paper and once the cookies were cut, took off the residual dough around the cookies.  Then put the parchment paper with the cookies on the baking sheet.  I do most sugar cookies this way so there is not a lot of moving of the dough. The recipe states to use a cloth board and a rolling pin with cloth, but I did not have this equipment.

Before making these, take into consideration the extra time and effort required to handle the delicate and sticky cookie batter.  I even tried other ways to form the cookies, such as dropping the dough on the baking sheet and then flattening with a glass or fork. That process changed the texture of the cookie.  It turned out very flat and not at all fluffy.  The cookie normally puffs to about 1/2 inch in the baking process.  This recipe makes about 3 dozen 3 1/2 to 4 inch size cookies.

Ma's Cookies or Old Fashioned Cookies
adapted from LA Times 2010 Cookie Contest 

11.5 oz bag of Chocolate Chunks (optional) or 1 cup of raisins (optional)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup shortening (Crisco)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 rounded tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 rounded tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups light brown sugar

On the day before baking, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Pour buttermilk in a small bowl and sprinkle baking soda over the top.  Put this bowl aside also.  In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer.  Once combined, mix in the eggs, one at a time.  Add the buttermilk mixture in three increments, beating after each addition until it resembles the consistency of whipped cream.

With a wooden spoon, mix 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter until combined.  Continue with this process, taking care not to overwork the batter but insure that all the flour is blended in.  Cover bowl of batter with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight.

The next day, if you are using raisins, you will need to soak in water to soften.  Otherwise skip that step and just start by preheating your oven to 475 degrees. Then cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to line your baking sheets.  Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into 5 sections with a knife.  Put one piece of the cut parchment paper on your counter and flour.  Then flour your rolling pin. Place one section of batter on the paper.

Roll out dough to 1/4 thick, using a well floured rolling pin.  Then cut out 6-7 cookies with 3 1/2 inch cutter and remove excess dough.  Put excess dough back in chilled bowl and return to fridge. If you opted for a raisins or chocolate chunks on your cookies, place 5-7 pieces on top of the each cookie.  Put baking sheet in oven and bake 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove cookies and place baking sheet on cooling rack for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies directly to rack with a spatula for final cooling. Repeat this process for the remaining 4 sections of the cookie batter.  You can re-use the parchment paper for your batches.  Just make sure that you scrape off all the flour residue after baking each time prior to flouring for the next batter.