Friday, January 8, 2010

52 Cookies

So, I made some cookies yesterday. Actually, I made a lot of cookies yesterday. It was a new recipe that I clipped eons ago and never got around to making. I had some buttermilk leftover and was wanting to get that used up and remembered the recipe I had for Buttermilk Cookies with Caramel Icing. So I set off on making these cookies yesterday because I had signed up to donate a dessert for our church's Soup For The Soul mission (we provide a soup/sandwich and more meal to homeless folks in downtown Columbus every Friday evening.) The cookies are good, but nothing I would swoon over. There is no chocolate in them, afterall. In preparing to deliver the cookies to church this morning, I got to thinking (I do that every once in awhile) about all of the cookie recipes I clip, bookmark, highlight and save. And yet...I usually make the same tried and true cookies over and over again. I am a perfectionist, yes, and I grew up with the belief that "Practice Makes Perfect." So I figure, I make the same cookies over and over in order to make THE PERFECT COOKIE. But there really is no "perfect cookie." Weather, ingredients, distractions can all play a roll in whether a cookie turns out perfect one time and just average or down-right horrible another time. And my opinion of a perfect cookie (soft and chewy) might not be someone else's cup of tea. Perhaps another person prefers crisp and crunchy or something fruity or with nuts or buttery. So, I decided I am going to set off on a cookie journey this new year. There are 52 weeks in a year and I plan to make a new cookie every week. I've always believed my dream job would be to work in a test kitchen somewhere, and trust me, I test plenty of things in my kitchen everyday, but this will be more official and determined. Never fear, I'll still bake our old favorites too; some of those recipes are like family, afterall! Here is the recipe for buttermilk cookies with caramel icing. This recipe comes courtesy of a cookbook titled "Der Dutchman 40 Year Anniversary." Enjoy!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
1 cug sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
5 cups flour

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
4 cups confectioner's sugar

To make cookies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat together butter, shortening, brown sugar, and sugar. Add eggs. Beat well. Add lemon juice, vanilla, cream of tartar, baking soda and buttermilk. Mix well. Stir in flour. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. I found 12 minutes worked better. I generally underbake my cookies in order to achieve that soft, chewy texture. In this case, the cookies fell flat...very flat, when underbaked. So go for a little extra time if you tend to underbake yours too. Just watch them! Transfer cookies to a cooling rack immediately and cool completely.
To make icing: Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the brown sugar. Cook on medium heat, thoroughly mixing until the butter doesn't separate from the sugar. This will take about 10 minutes. Add the milk and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it stand for a few minutes. Transfer this to a mixing bowl and add in the confectioner's sugar. Beat with a mixer. If the icing looks too thin to spread, add a little more confectioner's sugar until you get a good spreadable, but not stiff, consistency. Spread the cookies with the icing right away. I got interupted (as usual) there towards the end and the icing seemed to dry up a bit because it became very stiff and unspreadable. I heated it up just a tad and I was back in business. This recipe makes roughly 8 dozen, which was fine in this case since I had so many to take over to the church. I even had enough to send in with Kevin to work last night and a few to have here at home.

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