A few more essential cookies recipes
Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies
This is a finely tuned, easy-to-make rendition from chef Alex Levin of the Schlow Restaurant Group, with elements we like best in a chocolate chip cookie: Crisp edges, chewy centers, a good blend of chocolate and crunchy toffee bits.
The recipe calls for "good-quality" milk and semisweet chocolates, such as the flat bars of Guittard found in the baking aisle.
Make Ahead: The portioned cookie dough needs to be refrigerated for 1 hour, and up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. The baked cookies are best eaten the same day they are made, but they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2⁄3 cup granulated sugar
2⁄3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, chopped (see note)
6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces Heath toffee bits (may substitute 1 regular-size Heath Bar, chopped)
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (optional)
Combine the butter, both sugars and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
Beat on medium speed for 1 more minute; the mixture should be light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract or paste; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl down again, as needed.
Use a fork to whisk together the flour and baking soda in a bowl, then add to the dough. Beat on low speed to form a soft dough. Add the chopped chocolates and toffee bits, then beat on low speed until well incorporated.
Portion the cookie dough using a #100 disher (about 1 tablespoon per scoop) into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or freeze.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees convection or 375 degrees for a standard oven. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Arrange the dough portions on each baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Lightly flatten each portion and sprinkle with the flaky salt, if using. Bake (middle rack) one sheet at a time for 10 to 14 minutes, just until the edges are lightly crisped but the middles are still somewhat softened and domed. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing.
Variations: Use all dark chocolate or all milk chocolate instead of a combination of the two; use toasted chopped nuts or Reese's Pieces instead of the toffee bits -- or, for a fancy touch, 8 ounces of Valrhona dark chocolate crunchy pearls, available online.
Makes 30 cookies
From Alex Levin, executive pastry chef of the Schlow Restaurant Group.
Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
These lightly colored cookies are slightly soft and mildly chewy, with a satisfying peanut butter taste. We tested them with chunky peanut butter, but smooth/creamy works even better.
Here are tips from King Arthur Flour: This recipe was developed to use traditional supermarket-style peanut butter. If you use all-natural peanut butter, grind your own or use low-fat or low-salt peanut butter, the cookies won't turn out as described. For even softer cookies, you can use 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter instead of the 1/3 cup vegetable shortening.
1⁄3 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature (see note)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy; not natural-style; see note)
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Combine the shortening, both sugars, egg, vanilla extract and peanut butter in a mixing bowl, stirring until smooth.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt to the peanut butter mixture, stir gently until everything is well combined. It may take awhile for this rather dry dough to come together; and when it does, it'll be quite stiff. Only if necessary, drizzle in enough water to make the dough cohesive.
Drop the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here), leaving 2 inches between them. Use a fork to flatten each cookie to about ½-inch thick, making a crosshatch or other design.
Bake (middle rack) 12 to 16 minutes, until the cookies are barely beginning to brown around the edges; the tops will not be browned. Let them sit on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing.
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from KingArthurFlour.com.
Heather Chittum's Sugar Cookies
This recipe makes a dough that, when chilled, is easy to cut with cookie cutters and produces firm, light-golden-colored cookies.
Make Ahead: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours or overnight. It can be frozen in thin sheets for up to 2 months. Baked, un-iced cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.
3 cups flour, plus more as needed and some for the work surface
1 tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground mace (optional)
¾ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Combine the flour, baking powder, mace, if using, and the salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract, then stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time (on medium speed), mixing well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in increments until just combined. The dough will be fairly soft but should not be sticky. Add flour as needed and mix just to incorporate.
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Flatten each portion of dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, which will help when rolling and cutting the dough. Chill for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
When ready to bake, lightly flour a work surface. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (300 degrees for a convection oven).
Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use cookie cutters or templates to cut shapes; place the shapes on the prepared baking sheets, spaced at least 1 inch apart. If the dough becomes soft, return it to the refrigerator to firm up (20 to 30 minutes). Once the shapes have been cut and placed on the sheets, refrigerate the unbaked cookies for 15 minutes. Reroll scraps; refrigerate for 15 minutes before cutting into shapes.
Bake one sheet at a time for 10 to 14 minutes or until the cookie edges are pale golden. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating or storing. Repeat to use all the dough.
Makes 48 large cookies
From pastry chef Heather Chittum.
Sherrill's Secret Soft Gingerbread Boys
This is cookbook author Nancy Baggett's re-creation of a popular gingerbread cookie sold at a former landmark eatery on Washington's Capitol Hill, Sherrill's Restaurant and Bakery. The cookies are fragrant with spice, plump and slightly soft, yet not caky. They are finished with a light, sugary icing that is reminiscent of doughnut glaze.
You'll need a 4- or 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter.
Make Ahead: The dough needs to be refrigerated twice; first, for 30 minutes, and then for 30 to 40 minutes or up to 12 hours (or freeze faster; see times, below). Pack the cookies flat, with wax paper between the layers, in an airtight container for up to 1 week. They can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.
For the cookies
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
½ cup clover honey
2/3 cup light (mild-flavored) molasses
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 1/3 cups flour
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Raisins or currants for the eyes and buttons
For the glaze
1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring if lumpy
1½ tablespoons corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
3½ tablespoons water
For the cookies: Combine the butter, oil, honey, molasses and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter melts and the mixture just comes to a full boil; immediately start timing and cook for exactly 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on low speed; working carefully to avoid splashes, add the cooled butter-molasses mixture, beating (low speed) until the ingredients are incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, beating until very well blended; if the mixer motor labors, stop and complete the mixing by hand. (The dough will seem too soft at this point.) Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the dough has stiffened and is barely warm.
Divide the dough into thirds. Roll out the portions a generous ¼-inch thick between sheets of parchment or wax paper. Stack the rolled portions (paper still attached) on a tray or baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 to 40 minutes, or freeze for 20 to 25 minutes or until cold and firm. (The dough may be refrigerated for up to 12 hours, if preferred.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners
Working with one dough portion at a time (leaving the remainder chilled), gently peel away one sheet of paper, then lightly pat it back into place. (That will make it easier to lift cookies from the paper later.) Flip the dough over, then peel off and discard the second sheet. Using a 4- to 5-inch gingerbread girl or boy cutter, cut out the cookies. Using a spatula, transfer cookies to baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. (If at any point the dough softens too much to handle easily, transfer the paper and cookies to a tray or baking sheet, and chill until firm again.) Gather up and reroll the dough scraps between sheets of paper. Continue cutting out cookies until all the dough is used. Very firmly press raisins into the cookies for eyes and front buttons.
Bake one sheet at a time (middle rack) for 9 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are slightly colored on top and slightly darker at the edges; it's better to overbake than underbake. Cool on the sheet for about 4 minutes; then, use a wide spatula to transfer to wire racks set over a sheet of wax paper. Have all the cookies lined up and slightly separated before beginning the glaze.
For the glaze: Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, oil and water in a medium saucepan until well blended over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, for 30 to 45 seconds or just until the mixture is smooth and becomes translucent. Stir to recombine the glaze, then use right away while it is still hot. (If the glaze is allowed to stand and cool, it may thicken and become sugary. In that case, add a teaspoon of hot water to thin it again, place over medium heat and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Immediately remove from the heat and use.)
Use a pastry brush or a paper towel dipped in the glaze to brush the cooled cookies until their tops are coated all over with an even layer, not too thick or too thin. Stir the glaze frequently to prevent it from separating. Let the glazed cookies cool completely, at least 1 hour; the glaze may become slightly sugary and flaky.
Makes 16-18 large cookies
Baker Howard Ward was not willing to part with his original recipe, but several fans of the Sherrill's version have told Baggett that hers is very close to the original. Adapted from her
"The All-American Dessert Book" (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).
Salted Oatmeal Cookies
This cookie is all about the oats, without much spice to interfere with their earthy taste.
Make Ahead: This is a great dough to make ahead and keep on hand to bake off a few when the urge hits. Refrigerate the dough for several days. The cookies can be stored in an airtight tin for up to 1 week.
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups flour
2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
Sea salt, for sprinkling
In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for a few minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugars, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon, beating until the mixture is well blended. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing until well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and oats, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and mixing just until they are incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least an hour before baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form the dough into golf ball-size balls and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt generously on top of each ball of dough, as you would sugar. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 15 minutes or until the cookies are puffed and beginning to turn golden, being careful not to overbake. (The cookies should have a tender interior.) Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment paper, to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 18 cookies
Adapted from a 2005 DCist recipe.