Monday, November 02, 2009

Casts & cookies

This is what I look like in my splint, only not so tiny and adorable. Tomorrow I should be getting my referral to see an orthopedist.

This is what I really want to write about today. All Cakes Considered is a great new cookbook from the good folks at NPR's All Things Considered. So far I've tried two of the recipes: ATF Gingerbread (so-named because it contains very little sugar but is loaded with good-sized chunks of spicy crystallized ginger) with a luscious ginger-and-cream-cheese frosting, and Salty Oatmeal Cookies.

A year-and-a-half ago, everyone seemed to be buzzing about the salty chocolate chip cookie recipe that appeared in the New York Times. My pal Norman sent me a link to the article when it first appeared, along with a strong hint that if I wanted our friendship to survive, I had best make these cookies pronto. I was intrigued by the two major differences between this and every other chocolate chip cookie recipe I'd ever seen: first, that the dough should rest, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours before being baked, and second, that the cookies should be sprinkled with sea salt just before they go in the oven. When I made them, I understood why these two steps were vital to the cookies' success. The resting period allowed the "wet" ingredients (the butter and the eggs) to completely permeate the dough, giving the finished cookie the perfect blend of textures: crispy around the edge, chewier towards the middle, and soft in the center. And the salt beautifully balanced the rich semi-sweetness of the dark chocolate discs. Everyone who ate them remarked how incredibly good they were (well, everyone except my sister Mary -- feh!), and they all singled out the salt as the defining ingredient. So when I came across Melissa Gray's recipe for Salty Oatmeal Cookies, I thought I'd better give them a try, especially as oatmeal cookies are Sean's favorite.

Here is her recipe from All Cakes Considered. The one major change I made was that I let the dough sit for about six hours instead of the recommended "at least one." All other changes are noted parenthetically below.

makes about 2 dozen

3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3/4 cup butter-flavor Crisco shortening (surprisingly not easy to find)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract (I used imitation coconut flavor to no ill effect)
1 3/4 cups rice flour (had to go to Whole Foods for this)
Kosher salt, for sprinkling (I used Maldon sea salt)

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats. Set aside.

2. With the mixer, beat the shortening on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugars gradually, beating until mixed.

3. In a separate bowl, dry whisk the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Add to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated.

4. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and coconut extract, beating until blended.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the oatmeal and the rice flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I actually took the dough out of the bowl and wrapped it up tightly in plastic wrap) and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.

6. About 15 minutes before you're ready to bake, center a rack and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut out parchment paper to fit the cookie sheets.

7. Form the dough into balls the size of a golf ball and place on the baking sheets about two inches apart. Flatten the balls slightly (I used the bottom of a glass) and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

8. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time (huh? 2 at a time worked fine for me) for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and starting to turn golden brown.

9. With a spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. (The cookies are extremely soft at this point, so I recommend dragging them on the parchment paper onto the cooling rack and letting them sit for about 10 miutes before removing them with the spatula.)

These cookies are insanely good, especially with a glass of milk or cup of coffee. I'm sorry to say I didn't get a photo of them before they disappeared, but at least I now have a new recipe in my holiday cookie arsenal. Melissa Gray's ATF Gingerbread is also very tasty, very grown-up, and I can't wait to try her recipe for Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake.


Lucy said...

Thank you sharing this recipe. It was my favorite on the table and, considering your Halloween table, that's saying something. I"ll be making them for my Dad soon and I'm sure he will be thanking you soon too.

Kelly said...

Quite the blog with only 9 typing fingers!
Thanks for the recipe too - I'm a baker!

shandon said...

Kelly, I'm hunt-and-peck -- most of this post was typed with my right index finger!

The Invisible Mo said...

I seriously hate chocolate chip cookies, but my kids love them and maybe with the salt I will at least like them. I love salty/sweet snacks.
Hunt and peck isn't all that bad. My son failed keyboarding because he had been typing on the computer since he was little and couldn't quite pick up the qwerty. He "hunts and pecks" to the tune of anywhere from 70 to 90 words a minute, depending on his irritation level. haha.
Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I will add you to my reading list. I love cookbooks, too!