“Coffee and Cookies Two”!

Being the coffee nut that I am……IE: can’t move without my morning cup (or four)!  If anyone out there is like this, do I have a cookie recipe for you!

“Chocolate Espresso Cookies” is an old recipe, but very tasty!  Who doesn’t like caffeine, sugar and chocolate!? Exactly my point.  Just a thought here, espresso coffee actually has LESS caffeine than regular coffee. The water is forced through the espresso grounds so fast, that it absorbs less caffeine.  This is according to Mike and Shelly at Kitchen Affairs.

On to the recipe!

Chocolate Espresso Wafers

by Cathy’s Designer Cookies

1 cup  unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 tea. salt

1/4 tea. baking soda

3 Tabls. unsalted butter, room temp.

3 Tabls. margarine, room temp.

1/2 cup plus 2 Tabls. sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1-1/2 Tabls. instant Espresso powder

1 tea. vanilla extract

1 large egg white

Sift first 4 ingredients in to a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter and margarine until creamy.  Add both sugars, espresso powder, vanilla and beat to blend.  Mix in egg white.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just to incorporate.  Use your hands to knead the dough briefly to make a smooth dough. 

Form dough into a log 14 inches long by 2 inches wide.  Wrap log in waxed paper and chill until very cold. (About 2 hours).

Bake: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice chilled log crosswise into 1/4 inch disks.  Place disks on a parchment lined heavy baking sheet.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  Tops will be cracked and almost firm to the touch in the middle.  It’s okay to slightly under bake these cookies.  They just will not be as ‘crisp’.

Cool cookie on a wire rack.  Will keep in an air tight container for up to two weeks.  May be frozen for up to 1 month. 

Happy Baking!

Cookies for Sweethearts!

Can you believe it??!!  We just took down the Christmas decorations and it’s nearly time for Valentine cookie baking!

Be sure and check out my cookie tutorial “Flying Hearts!”  You’ll find a step by step lesson on how to create beautiful cookies for Valentines Day.

With just over 3 weeks to Valentines Day, now is the time to make and freeze your cookie dough.  You can even bake and freeze un-iced cookies.  This do-a-head will make cookie decorating day go so much faster.

Happy Baking!

Cathy

Flour; "What’s Best"?

“What’s the best flour to use”? Is a question I am often asked. I say, “Depends on what you are baking”.
Flour is the backbone and structure of your baked goods. It is a binding and an absorbing agent. It affects the quality of your baked goods. It adds flavor and nutritional value to the baked product. That’s a lot for humble, little ‘ol flour to do.

“All Purpose Flour” is just what the name suggests; this flour can be used successfully in a variety of baked goods. It is a mixture of soft wheat flour and hard wheat flour and gluten flour. (Gluten adds protein). I have used “unbleached all purpose flour” for many years. I like this type because it has less chemical treatments. For most home cookie bakers this is the flour I recommend. I like to buy organic flour when I can find it. (I just feel good about using anything organic.)

Do not be tempted to use cake flour for your cookie baking. Cake flour is extra fine, soft milled flour (low gluten) and your recipe measurements will be off. (If all you have is cake flour, substitute 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for each cup of all purpose flour your recipe calls for.)

I look for “low protein content flour” for cookie baking. (9.2 or lower) This will help produce a tender cookie.
For bread baking you want high protein flour. (14.5 or higher.) Since you want to develop the gluten in bread, you need this extra protein in your flour.

All flour has a shelf life. The expiration date should be printed on the package. If you buy a large quantity of flour on sale, you can freeze the extra. Be sure it’s wrapped well and placed in a freezer bag. Flour can keep 5 to 6 months in the freezer.

So, why have I said all of this??? Just to say it’s okay to use a good quality all purpose flour. Most home bakers will be very satisfied with the results.

Happy Baking!

Cookie Tips and Techniques-2

Okay…….here it is!  The one technique you will use nearly every time you bake  a batch of sugar cookies.

After you roll out your well chilled cookie dough, cut out the shapes you want with your cookie cutters.

(Note:) Bake same size and same shapes of cookies together on a baking sheet.  This will insure even baking of all cookies.

Once you have placed your cut out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, place the whole tray of un-baked cookies in the freezerfor 20 minutes.  Remove the tray from the freezer and place in a preheated oven.  Bake as usual.  This will do two things.  1.) It will re-freeze the butter in the cookie and  2.) It will help keep the cookie shape during baking.  What happens:  The butter, if not frozen or well chilled, it will start to melt as soon as the baking sheet is placed in the  hot oven.  If the cookie is frozen before baked, the cookie will start to bake before the butter starts to melt.  It’s that simple!  Once I discovered this simple tip I was amazed at how well my cookies kept their shape during baking.

Also, be sure you let your baking sheets cool between batches of cookies.  Never place chilled cut out cookies on a hot baking sheet.  This is why I recommend buying several heavy duty baking sheets.

Try it this week end!

Happy Baking!

Regarding July 9th

Just wanted everyone to know about a very important day this month.  Most of you know July is “National Ice Cream” month.   However, did you know, July 9th is “National Sugar Cookie Day“?   I am letting you know ahead of time so you will have plenty of time to make your cookie dough, stash it in the freezer (yes, sugar cookie dough freezes very well) and bake a batch of fresh homemade sugar cookies!

Be sure and let me know how you celebrate the big day.  (I’ll post a photo of the best celebration!)  Your family and friends will thank you!

Happy Baking!

PS: July 22 is “Ratcatcher Day” (really!)  So…go catch a rat?? Yikes!

Chill that (cookie) dough!

Wow! It’s hot out there! One very important thing in rolling out any cookie dough, is to be sure your dough is well chilled.  This makes rolling out the dough and cutting cookies out so much easier!  Remember, if your dough is too warm, it will stick to the mat and your rolling pin.  You will end up using more and more flour to keep it from sticking and your cookies will be tough and will grow to giant-size!  So always freeze or really chill dough.

Another tip: place several ice packs on your counter top.  Place the wrapped cookie dough on top. This way as you roll out small amounts of the dough, the rest of the dough will stay chilled.  I use to re-wrap my dough about every 10 minutes to chill it over and over.  Now I can leave it on the counter (on top of  the ice packs). It stays nice and cold.

Happy Baking!

-Cathy