Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Me Want COOKIES!!!!!!

I am a snacker. I think I've confessed to this vice before...

When I lived in London, my sweetheart and I pulled 70 hour workweeks, and hardly ever ate at home, yet our week-end grocery list (and bill) was huge from all the snacks I would purchase to satisfy my midnight cravings. Our small kitchen was filled to the brim with cookies, crackers and chips. Known as crisps in the UK, they came in a myriad of flavours each more tempting than the next: like Sweet Thai Chilli; Aged Cheddar; Stilton Cheese; Sundried Tomato; and meat flavours like Minted Lamb, Char-Grilled Beef and General Tao's Chicken for all the non-veg!

My present kitchen has been divested of most snack foods. I no longer live in fast-paced, work-crazed London, and having so much ready-to-eat food around when I have a three-day-week-end is just too dangerous. I do, occasionally, buy chips and crackers and such, but I try to avoid cookies and most sweets, because, I reason, I know how to make them way better than anything store-bought. Reasoning to oneself in a supermarket when your stomach is grumbling does not always work...

I like my cookies to be crisp on the outside and cakey-moist on the inside, a little like a muffin top, but thinner and yummier. I've been using the same, basic chocolate chip cookie recipe since forever, but I only discovered how to get the cakeyness about 10 years ago. I was making raisin-oatmeal cookies, and the raisin being a little too dry, I had soaked them in some rum and orange juice. Not wanting to waste good rum, I threw the unabsorbed liquid into the cookie batter, and the cookies turned out soft with crisp edges. Perfect!


It also works with chocolate chip cookies, though the chips do not require any soaking... duh!

The batter can be firm or very soft, depending on the butter's temperature. If your kitchen is cool, and the batter is firm, the cookies will need to be smooshed a bit before going in the oven as butter-based batters do not spread out like shortening-based cookies.

The cookies will eventually lose their crispness, but they should remain soft and moist for a week or more in a covered tin -if they don't get eaten before then.

Fruity Oatmeal Cookies
Makes around 2 dozens

½c /115g butter, room temperature
1c / 275g brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1c /225g  all-purpose flour
1c /250g old-fashion oatmeal 
1tsp / 2g baking powder
1c /± 275g raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried mangoes, etc... or chocolate chips/shards
enough liquid of your choice to just-barely-cover the dried fruits (if you are using chocolate chips, add 3Tbs / 45mL of whatever liquid you want -water, juice, alcohol or milk)

Soak the dried fruit in the liquid, set aside.
Cream butter until soft, you can do this over a double-boiler if the butter is particularly hard, but do not let it melt completely.
Add sugar to butter, and beat until light and fluffy. 
Add egg, and beat thoroughly.
Combine all the dry ingredients, and add to batter.
Remove fruits from the soaking liquor, they should be plump and moist and you should have about 3 tablespoons-worth of liquid left. If not, let the fruits soak for longer.
Mix fruits and liquor into the batter.

You can leave the batter to rest at this point, or even roll it into logs to keep in the freezer (up to 1 month).

Spoon heaping teaspoons of batter onto a papered cookie sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes at 350'F/ 175'C.
Eat when cool enough to handle.

 Bon app'!

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