Friday, August 28, 2009

Dorie Greenspan's molasses spice cookies

When it comes to cookies, I am a chocolate fan, almost to the exclusion of everything else. And so are my mom and most of my siblings. My dad likes snickerdoodles, so we make them for him once or twice a year. B likes oatmeal cookies, pumpkin cookies, and inferior versions of snickerdoodles. I like none of these, so he has to buy his cookies from the store. If left to myself, I would never have tried these cookies. If left to myself, I'll never make them again, either. I just don't love spice cookies. But my sisters and I were baking and my sister wanted to try these, so we did.

Because I wasn't precise in following Dorie's directions, mine came out chewy. Fine with me, as all of us who ate them prefer chewy cookies to crispy. In fact, the texture was the major draw of these cookies for B and me. The level of spice and the flavor of the molasses were nice. My dad, who had wrinkled his nose at the idea of pepper in cookies, ended up liking them a lot. As spice cookies go, these are good. But me, I'm sticking with chocolate.

Molasses Spice Cookies (from Baking, Dorie Greenspan)
2.5 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
.5 tsp ground cinnamon
.25 tsp ground allspice
pinch cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
16 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C (packed) light brown sugar
.5 C molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg

about .33 C sugar, for rolling

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper.

With a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar and molaasses and beat for app. 2 min. to blend. Add egg and beat for 1 min. more. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, mixing until flour and spices disappear. If some flour remains on bottom of bowl, to avoid overbeating, mix by hand with a rubber spatula. Dough will be smooth and very soft. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 min. or refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 4 days).

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball between your palms. One by one, roll the balls around in the bowl of sugar, then place them on the baking sheets. dip the bottom of a glass into the sugar and use it to press down on the cookies until they are between .25 and .5" thick.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops feel set to the touch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, iaf the cookies have spread anda re touching, use the edge of a spatula to separate them while they are still hot. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

rhubarb big crumb coffee cake

I saw this recipe in the Times a couple of years ago and have been meaning to try it ever since, as B and I both love coffee cake.

This was a hit--quick, easy, and delicious. B even liked it despite his hatred of ginger. Unfortunately, I was having bad problems with heartburn when I made this, and between the rhubarb and the rich crumb topping, I wasn't able to eat more than a slice. But I will be making it again.

Rhubarb Big Crumb Coffee Cake (from the New York Times)

Rhubarb filling
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cups cake flour

Coffee cake
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.
2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.
3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.
4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.