Friday, April 29, 2011
The Secret to the Best Cookies Ever
Janet here: Yup, I'm still obsessed with making better cookies. (You can read my rantings on the topic here and here.) I am happy to report that I think I'm on to something thanks to Tina Casaceli.
Tina Casaceli is the chef/owner of Milk & Cookies Bakery in Greenwich Village, a reason in and of itself for me to make going to NYC a top priority. She is also the author of a new book called, obviously, Milk & Cookies by Chronicle Books. She is also clearly a cookie goddess.
Her cookbook will have you drooling at the cover. She cleverly divides her cookies — she also has some bar and brownie recipes — into dough chapters, i.e. those with vanilla dough, those with chocolate dough, those with sugar dough, those with oatmeal dough, and those with peanut butter dough. Then she just tells you what to add to make the cookies of your choice — or in my case a cookie of my own based on her inspiration.
Now we get to the secret: she kneads her cookie dough. That's right, with her hands. While she starts out with a mixer, Tina ends her basic cookie dough creating with kneading. This is a little messy but boy the results are unbelievable.
Her vanilla dough also includes ground-up rolled oats, which adds a lovely texture and allows those of us who like to eat more than a few homemade cookies feel as if we're eating something more nutritional. (Don't pop my bubble!)
Anyway I'm sharing her basic vanilla dough recipe and my inclusion of white macadamia nuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips. For the rest you're going to have to buy the book...which you should. No joke. (And Rachel, I am so ready to take you on in a cookie bake-off!)
Basic Vanilla Dough
makes about 2 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Put the oats in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in the flour, baking powder,baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Put the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle. Beat on low speed to soften. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes until light and creamy. With the motor running, gradually add the sugar and then the brown sugar, beating until very light and creamy.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate. Beat in the vanilla and when blended, slowly beat in the reserved dry mixture. While the dough is still streaky, remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the paddle clean.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Scrape the dough onto the floured surface. Lightly flour your hands and finish mixing the dough by a gentle kenading motion, working until the dough is just blended. Do not overwork the dough; you want to be certain all of the ingredients are blended together.
Now you add whatever ingredients you are using. I added 2 cups chopped macadamia nuts and 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix them in with a large wooden spoon. I put mine back in the bowl to do this.
Using a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon, make mounds of dough and roll them into balls about 1 1/2 inches around. Place the balls on the sheet and then gently flatten with your palm.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool....and then try to just eat one.