Monday, February 28, 2011

Everything is Better with Cookies

This past Saturday was my mother's birthday, and she, my brother, and my grandfather came to Ann Arbor to visit and go out to lunch together. I also baked cookies!

A few weeks ago, Meijer was having a sale on Nestle Toll House chocolate chips, and I could not resist. I'd been wanting to bake cookies again for a while. I picked up good ol' milk chocolate chips and a bag of mixed peanut butter chips and milk chocolate chips. (Can you tell I like milk chocolate?) The milk chocolate I made last week, and the peanut butter and chocolate I made for my family.

Since I still lack a microwave in this apartment (though my grandfather gave me one, there is no room here so my mother is storing it for me in her basement), I put the two sticks of butter in the mixing bowl, then put the whole mixing bowl into the preheating oven. Needless to say, the butter outright melted rather than just softened, but at that point, I didn't really care. I was baking these after work at around 11pm on Friday.

I added the sugar to the melted butter and stirred until it made a nice light brown cream, then added the rest fo the ingredients one by one, stirring after each. I think I need to make this my usual technique because it gave the batter a wonderfully smooth texture. The batch of cookies last time seemed almost gritty to me.

Since the glass mixing bowl was still warm from the oven, when I added the chips, they sort of melted - especially the peanut butter ones - and swirled into the batter, but didn't mix entirely. This turned out to be amazing. After the cookies came out of the oven, they had a sort of marbled look to them and the taste was distinct from regular chip cookies, and delightful.

I've also refined my baking technique. Often my chocolate chip cookies were too thin due to runny batter, and came out very crispy. For whatever reason the batter from the two bags of Toll House cookies made the cookies thicker, and if I took them out before they were done cooking, with the edges just barely turned a light brown (about 10 minutes), the cookies were softer and almost gooey. Even when they were fully dry a day later, they were still not as crispy and had a softer center, though no longer chewy.

One day when I am feeling particularly self-indulgent, I may bake these same cookies again and turn them into ice cream sandwiches. The softer texture and thicker cookie seem well-suited to this purpose. And it sounds delicious.

For lunch, my family and I went to Joe's Crab Shack where I had snapper in mushroom sauce with dirty rice and broccoli. It was so good! Snapper (both yellow and red)  is one of my favorite fish for sushi and sashimi, and I think this may have been the first time that I have had it cooked. I think snapper is an often overlooked fish, and my mother was not familiar with it. My grandfather also ordered snapper, and my brother got salmon with some kind of mango salsa that was a delicious pairing! My mother ordered crab cakes that were too spicy for her, so our dishes ended up a little shared. Even if the fishing industry is hopelessly flawed, fish is tasty, and a guilty pleasure now and again. A rum runner and the cookies made an excellent dessert.

I am now out of eggs, sadly, and I have one more batch of cookies to make. My friend at work gave me a bag of special cookies to make. In payment for me baking them, we're going to split the batch. Everyone at work told me they are the best cookies and the mix is very expensive, so I am anxious to put my new skills to the test and try these cookies out!

Winter truly is the season for baking. 

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