I am a sucker for books, especially when they are on sale or clearance. Thus I picked up a book entitled 1 Dough, 100 Cookies for half its usual price. (It's part of a series. I saw another one called 1 Mix, 100 Cakes that I opted not to buy because I thought cookies would be more useful to me.) The idea is that the book gives you one very basic cookie recipe, then 100 recipes that add different ingredients to create 100 different cookies to make using that 1 basic dough. I immediately bookmarked a bunch of recipes that required only ingredients I had on hand in my kitchen.
The first one I tried is called Caramel Glaze Cookies. I started by softening 1 cup of butter in the microwave. (About 60 seconds without adjusting the temperature.) Then I added ¾ cup of sugar (the recipe calls for superfine sugar, but I don't know what that is so I used my regular Michigan-grown beet sugar), and beat the sugar together with the butter. Once that was blended, I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (fake), and 1 egg yolk. I don't have an egg separator, so I did it the old fashioned way by pouring the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the broken shell and letting the whites fall into a waiting bowl. The yolk and vanilla were them beaten in with the butter and sugar mixture.
About this time, I wondered, “Who invented the cookie?” Who first wondered what they could make with butter, sugar, and flour all baked together? I often wonder these things about various foods. I'd look this one up, but I lack internet at home. It will have to wait for another day.
The final ingredient for the dough was 2 ½ cups of all purpose flour with a little salt mixed in. By this time, my hands were getting mighty tired from beating the dough with a wooden spoon, as the recipe called for, so I had to take a little break.
Once the dough was thoroughly mixed together, I divided it into two large balls and put them in the fridge to chill for half an hour. I rested a few more minutes before continuing onto the next phase of these caramel glazed cookies – the caramel glaze!
The instructions said to first have a bowl of cold water standing at the ready. Then I put ¼ cup of sugar into a sauce pan, and was supposed to combine it with ½ a teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 ½ tablespoons of water. When I looked in the fridge for the lemon juice, I discovered that it was gone. We'd used the last of it on dying the Easter eggs.
In a bind, I looked up lemon juice substitutes on the internet via my phone and found that if the lemon juice is only required in small doses, then vinegar may be used as a substitute. (If you are making a cocktail, for instance, don't substitute vinegar! That would be disgusting.) I don't have white vinegar, only apple cider vinegar, so I used ½ teaspoon of that instead of the lemon juice.
I stirred the pan over low heat constantly until the sugar was dissolved. Then I turned the heat up and let the mixture boil without stirring until it turned a “rich caramel color.” The book instructed me to plunge the hot sauce pan into the waiting bowl of water and stir in another 3 tablespoons of cold water. This did not work for me the way it was supposed to, I'm pretty sure. The caramel hardened and did not absorb the water, so I put it back on the stove over a low-medium heat so that the caramel would dissolve and I kept stirring until it was all blended.
About the time the caramel glaze was done and cooling, the dough was ready to be taken out of the fridge. Perhaps I didn't use a large enough egg yolk because the dough was crumbly and had to be worked with before I could successfully roll it out for the cookie cutter.
With that finally accomplished and the oven preheated, I beat another egg yolk in with the caramel. I was only supposed to use 1 tablespoon of the caramel, but I didn't know what to with the rest, so it all went in the bowl with the yolk. I also don't own a pastry brush, so instead of brushing the glaze over the cookies, I drizzled it on with a form and smoothed it out. No fancy designs for me!
The recipe was supposed to make 30 cookies, but I made 35. Could have made more, but I didn't have room on the cookie sheet, so I just ate the dough raw. It might have made an additional 3 to 5 cookies. I was worried that the caramel would taste too burned, but they tasted fine once they were done cooling. I couldn't detect any apple cider vinegar flavor either, so it did its job well.
All in all, not a terrible recipe. The caramel sauce was a bit of a pain to make, and there was quite a bit of clean up to do between the stickiness and the crumbles of dough that scattered all over the counter. Still, I feel rather accomplished. I also feel better armed to tackle the book's next recipe, whichever that shall be.