May is Colorado’s month for showers (not April). It’s been wet every day of the month with over 2 inches two days ago. There’s danger of flooding in a few areas, but luckily the forecast is for a sunny week coming up. This green but snowy scene is what we woke up to this morning. I immediately went out with the broom to gently prod the recently leafed out branches most in danger of snapping under their wet loads. By noon, the snow was gone except for a few patches on the grass, and the branches had recovered except for their still bowed postures.
This was the perfect day to go on a cookie baking craze, and I was prepared with the new baking book Cookie Love by Mindy Segal, James Beard award winning pastry chef and owner of Hot Chocolate, a restaurant and dessert bar in Chicago. Cookies are the premier portable comfort dessert and for me, a good old-fashioned drop cookie is all about the basics; buttery richness balanced with the sweet, flavorful star ingredients (chocolate, spices, nuts) and appealing texture. Now I know that for lots of folk, that means a big fat chewy cookie. But I agree with Mindy that the perfect homemade cookie is not too big with crisp edges and a barely chewy center, starts with a crunchy first bite and finishes with those signature flavors lingering in perfect balance with butter, sugar, salt and for me, the earthy nuttiness of some whole grain flour. Although Mindy sticks with unbleached all-purpose flour, I used a mix of about half all-purpose and half organic emmer flour from Blue Bird Grain farms in Washington. I also made slight adjustments for baking at altitude (5000 feet) and using duck eggs (my favorite for custards and baking).
I baked full batches of the chocolate chip, peanut butter and ginger cookies, adhering to Mindy’s direction to chill the doughs overnight which improves both flavor and texture, and really helps cookies from spreading too much when baked (a common problem at altitude). Mindy shared other pastry chef tips but I noticed that she used volume not weight measurements, something I didn’t expect from a professional baker. But that’s how she bakes at home, even though ingredients are weighed in her restaurant bakery.
Even though I love chocolate chip, my favorite of the three was the Peanut Butter Peanut Brittle cookie. This cookie had a badge of homemade peanut (in my case pine nut) brittle, giving it a little bit of that Mindy edgy-ness. You can find the recipe here along with other tidbits from Chef Mindy at the kitchn website.
The chilled dough was so stiff that it broke my mini-ice cream scooper, so I went back to the old tried and true two-spoons-and-then-roll cookie shaping technique. No squishing before baking required.
Hmmm, looks like I might have frozen some of that dough, Cookie, anyone?
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.