Cookies and brownies seem like such as easy topic when as a mom I’ve spent more years than I want to admit making them. I learned to bake first from my mother but more from a home economics class I took in high school. Over the years I have collected cookbooks and magazine recipes with many, many cookie recipes. I never gave much thought to modifying a basic recipe to suit my taste or using a “ratio” to make a cookie dough but that’s the difference between the home cook and the professional. By learning the chemistry of baking it’s possible to start thinking in a totally different way. Why did the cookie dough spread out so thin when I baked it?
It could be the fat (butter) or the type of flour (all purpose) and the temperature of the dough (room). To spread less the solution may be cake flour and chilled dough. If I want chewier cookies I can use bread flour and brown sugar. These are just a couple examples of the many facts we learned and then practiced in class. I also learned that creaming butter and sugar is a much longer process than I thought. To think, I’ve been undercreaming stuff all my life and probably drying stuff out by adding too much flour and overmixing it. Chef Loy did an excellent job of teaching this class and I learned so much.
Our class assignments included:
1-2-3 Cookie Dough: A very easy to remember recipe.
Take 2 pounds butter, 1 pound sugar, 1 Tbs vanilla and cream a LONG time, add 8 ounces of eggs, one at a time, then 3 pounds of flour and you have a basic dough. Add lemon zest or other flavors and make any type of cookie. The dough is missing salt, so adding it would be a good idea.
Rolled cookies from 1-2-3 dough
Nut cookies (molded)
Brownies (plain and cream cheese)
Carrot cookies (drop)
Whole wheat crackers
I volunteered to make a batch of the 1-2-3 dough for the class so I could use the “big bertha” mixer for the first time. That mixer is hugh and powerful. Imagine mixing 2 pounds of butter, sugar, and 3 pounds of flour in your home KitchenAid–no way.
Making all the different cookies was fun, not as stressful as savory cooking at all.
Tasting them at the end was very interesting.
I wish I hadn’t accidentally left both my camera and cell phone at home so I could have photographed the 7 varieties of cookies we made. Four tables of students made a dozen of each of the different cookies–7 dozen per table–so at the end we spread out these 28 dozen cookies, brownies and crackers for all of us to sample. The sight of 336 cookies at 10:00 PM is hard to describe, particularly when you’re hungry from not eating dinner but trying to lose a few pounds for an uncoming military conference requiring fitting into a too tight uniform. I nibbled on a few of the cookies and just brought the rest home. I was surprised to discover how much I loved the wheat crackers we made. When I saw the recipe I thought “yuk” and heard Chef Loy tell someone that “once you taste homemade crackers you’ll never want store bought again.”
I was doubtful, but the taste of the savory, spicy, salty cracker was unbelievable. Strange that in a cookie/brownie class I liked the cracker best. I spent the next day nibbling on my crackers making plans to try making them at home. My husband took the cookies to work and is becoming a very popular guy. He came home with a request for the brownie recipe but I told him to warn the guy that our recipes are written in pounds and ounces not cups and teaspoons.