Tag Archives: baking

A “Happy-Medium” Cookie

Do you ever turn into Cookie Monster?  I know I do.  There are some days when chefs in the kitchen at work recognize a certain intense (or desperate) look on my face and silently point to the freshly baked tray of double chocolate chip goodness cooling on sheet pans.  I think they half-expect me to break into pleading wails of, “ME WANT COOKIES!!,” but I’ve contained myself so far.

Anyway, everybody loves a good cookie now and again.  The chewy texture of the dough and crunch of the chocolate chips is exactly what the soul and body calls for at times.  If you’re like me, though, you may want a healthier cookie option that tastes great and gives you a couple added health benefits that Tollhouse break-and-bake lacks.

Enter my favorite “happy-medium” cookie.  These are absolutely delicious, and don’t have an overt “healthy” flavor to them.  There’s a nuttiness from the whole wheat flavor and oatmeal, but thanks to the essential cookie ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate!) they retain their homemade chocolate chip cookie taste.

How do I know that these are really delicious and healthy cookies?  Because friends that I’ve made these for continuously ask me to make them again.  Sometimes a little too frequently.  And they’re foolproof, so I don’t end up with any bricks

I think Cookie Monster would approve.

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Happy-Medium Cookies (Oatmeal Chocolate Chip)
Adapted from A Dash of Sass

Makes 2 dozen cookies

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup butter or margarine, softened to room temperature

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. milk

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular 100% whole wheat flour)

½ tsp.baking soda

½ tsp.baking powder

½ tsp.salt

½ tsp.cinnamon

1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats

¾ to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the sugars and butter together in a medium bowl.  Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, and cream for another 30 seconds until combined.

In a separate large bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients (whole wheat flour through cinnamon).  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined.  

By hand, stir in the oats and chocolate until well distributed.  (The recipe at A Dash of Sassincludes walnuts — feel free to add if you wish!).

On a cookie sheet that’s been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment, drop teaspoons of dough about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11 to 14 minutes. Cooking time may vary, but I like them right between 11 and 12 minutes, because I like softer and chewier cookies.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Then enjoy on their own or with a glass of milk.

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Stumbling Blocks in Baking

“The only stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell’ attitude.”
— Julia Child

Not everything  I make turns out as I intend.  Usually, my kitchen failures involve baking.  Just ask my sister.

Last winter, between Halloween and the week before Christmas, it seemed as if I had lost all my abilities to bake.  I would send her photos of my botched cookies, breads, and cakes and then sit miserably, trying to determine where I had gone wrong. 

I wasn't kidding.

 

This was supposed to be a chocolate chip pumpkin loaf. And edible.

My baking experiment failures went on for a solid two months.  I think my problem was that I kept trying to adapt recipes I had never tried before.  Baking is extremely precise, so even my “extra dash of fill-in-the-blank spice” may have affected the recipe.  I truly did want to just throw in the towel and never attempt to bake another cookie in my life.  But, I knew that life would be very sad with no homemade cookies.

 

I somehow found my way back into baking around the Christmas holidays.  I’d like to thank a batch of perfect pumpkin muffins (yes, they were out of a box from Pelican Bay) to restoring hope in my personal abilities.  They were delicious on a snowed-in morning in the mountains of North Carolina.

 

Since then, I’ve gone on to bake many things and have shared many:  beer bread, cupcakes, donuts.  In my opinion, I’ve been doing pretty well.

 

And then today happened.  I woke up wanting to challenge myself.  I thought of all my past baking failures, channeled my inner Julia and give cooking a “What the hell” midset, and decided to make pizza dough from scratch. 

 

I really don’t know why I’ve been so nervous about this since millions of people make their own pizza dough, but I was honestly scared when I started activating the yeast today.  And of course I couldn’t just make your basic pizza dough.  Instead, I went with a recipe that calls for white wine, and then made a couple adaptations.  Go big or go home, that’s my motto.

 

Amazingly, it all turned out. 
 
 
White Wine Pizza Dough Crust
Makes 1 large or 2 smaller thin crust pizzas
1 packet of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup pinot grigio
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, and wine.  Stir well to combine.  Then add in the salt and nutmeg, and stir again.

Add in 1 cup of all purpose flour and mix to create a paste.  Then add in the remaining flour and start to knead dough.

On a flour-dusted surface, knead dough for 6 to 8 minutes.  Then place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. 

Let rise for 45 minutes.  (And if your kitchen is too cold like mine, warm your oven for a minute, turn it off, and then place the bowl inside.

After dough has risen, separate it into two equal parts if you’d like to make two pizzas.  Or roll out onto a ¼” thickness on a floured surface and make one giant pizza.  Top with whatever you desire, and bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.



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