Monday, January 21, 2008

Straight From The Bag


I remember having homemade coconut macaroons at my best friend's house when I was seven or eight. We were in the kitchen with her mom and I remember saying that I didn't like coconut, but as I dipped the super sweet slightly cooled coconut macaroons into the melted chocolate and placing them on a plate to cool, something changed. I bit into one, and decided I liked the sugar-loaded and semisweet chocolate covered cookie.

I remember that not too long after that when I went to the store with my mom we bought a bag of sweetened shredded coconut and the ingredients listed on the back of the bag to make macaroons. Unlike the usual order of things in the kitchen with Anna teaching me to make pierogi and having me fold the filling into the little pockets as I ran around the house after my homework, I taught her how to make macaroons as per the recipe on the back. Ours weren't dipped into melted chocolate, but ever since then, I haven't passed up a recipe or cookie just because it contained coconut. By fifth grade, Almond Joys replaced 3 Musketeers as my favorite candy on Halloween.

I don't think I've made macaroons since then, though I know I've used coconut a few times since then in baked goods and savory dishes. Just not cookies.

Last week, I reminded myself a bit of the elementary school kid taking charge in the kitchen, armed with a key ingredient whose label contained a coveted recipe. Only this time, that ingredient just happened to be in the kitchen and wasn't sought out to make the recipe listed on its label.
I had a bag of spelt flour sitting on the counter since I made some super-simple peanut butter chocolate chip cookies in November, and I'm sure it is on it way to rancidity. But the recipe side of the bag has been facing me, with a Spelt Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, so last Sunday, after dinner, I whipped up a batch of the cookies, mostly following the recipe. I had an open bag of white chocolate chunks (I've been getting lazy about chopping my own chocolate), so I strayed a bit from the recipe on the bag. But my mom loved them. Granma dubbed them "so-so", and someone in my math class who makes addictive chocolate chip cookies asked if they had a lot of vanilla. I guess a teaspoon could be considered a bit.

Then, last night, I was going to whip a batch of oatmeal-raisin cookies for my aunt and uncle since my aunt after telling her how I'd been keeping cookie dough balls in our freezer, so we can have fresh-baked cookies in twenty minutes after baking off a batch in her oven Friday night. But instead I finally tried the oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chunk cookie recipe on the back of the Craisins bag. (Those things are too sweet. After having another brand for a while, they taste almost like pure sugar.) I was happy with the results, though the yield it listed was wrong. I think they mean tablespoonfulls, not teaspoons for the size of the cookies.

Though I'll admit, I do have some trouble following the recipes as written.

Spelt Chocolate Chip and Nut Cookies
adapted from recipe on back of Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour bag
makes two to three dozen cookies, depending on size (I use a 2-tsp. scoop)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts (or use all pine nuts, I would definitely at least use some pine nuts)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two baking sheets (either grease or line with parchment or silpat).

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until smooth. Fold in chocolate and nuts.

Drop on prepared baking sheet by teaspoonfuls and bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.

Cranberry-Orange White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from recipe on bag of Craisins
makes about 2 dozen small cookies

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 egg
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets or grease.

In a large bowl beat together butter, sugar, and orange zest until fluffy. Beat in egg.

In a small bowl, mix together oats, flour, and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture until combined. Fold in cranberries and white chocolate.

Spoon teasponfuls of batter onto prepared sheets. Bake 8-12 minutes or until golden.

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