Friday, September 12, 2008

Operation Baking GALS: Round 2



Taking part in the Operation Baking Gals 2 event was such a great experience. The hardest part was choosing which cookies to send. At first, I considered sending a batch of Dorie Greenspan's wonderful Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters. But after reading the posts of several other Baking GALS, I realized that was a common choice, so I decided to go a different route.

After a bit of searching, I came up with three recipes that seemed to fit the bill: no chocolate, no peanut butter, likelihood of making the journey to Iraq (where my soldier and his troops are stationed) in one piece. It's not easy to find cookie recipes that aren't too crunchy (don't travel well) or cakey (ditto) that don't have some form of chocolate, peanut butter, or some combination of the two. But in the end, I selected Lemon Sugar Drops, Chewy Coconut Butter Cookies, and Cranberry-Walnut Granola Bars.

All three had to be packed differently to preserve the integrity of their particular texture. I wrapped each granola bar individually and stacked them in the box. The Lemon Sugar Drops were layered between paper towels in a plastic container that was then taped shut. The Chewy Coconut cookies were stacked and double wrapped in groups of 5, then laid end to end in a narrow (Converse) shoebox.


To take up the extra space in the box and prevent jostling, I used small packages of hard candy and dry air-popped popcorn. Hopefully, the box and the cookies inside it will arrive bearing the well wishes and good tidings it was sent off with. Thanks, Susan, for taking on the Herculean task of getting this project off the ground and keeping it running!


And now . . . the cookies!


Lemon Sugar Drops


~tender and cakey in the center, crisp exterior, lightly lemony



Lemon Sugar Drops*

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Colored sugar for decorating (I used yellow and pale green)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer, combine sugar and butter. Beat at low speed (use paddle attachment on standing mixer) until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon zest, and egg. Gradually add flour and baking soda, scraping down the sides of the bowl while mixing.

Use a medium cookie scoop to drop portions of dough about 2 inches apart on paper-lined baking sheet. One at a time, roll tops and sides (but not bottoms) of dough balls in colored sugar, pressing lightly to coat with sugar. If desired, flatten dough balls by gently pressing with the bottom of a measuring cup or the heel of your hand. [Recipe note: I patted mine down a bit but didn't really flatten them.]

Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges just start to turn golden brown. Leave on baking sheet for one minute and then remove to rack to cool completely.

This makes about 21/2 dozen cookies.

*Recipe adapted from "To Roll or Not to Roll" Sugar Cookies, by Gold Medal Flour
~ * ~

Chewy Coconut Butter Cookies

~buttery, sweet, chewy . . . delicious



Chewy Coconut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and coconut extracts and continue beating. Scrape down sides of mixer, and spoon in flour mixture, beating till combined. Add coconut and mix.

Transfer dough to a smaller bowl and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a medium-size cookie scoop to drop dough about 3 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the centers are golden brown. Let sit on pan for 1 minute, then remove to rack to cool completely.

~ * ~

Cranberry-Walnut Granola Bars

~sweet and chewy, perfect for an energy boost; made with honey, walnuts, rolled oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries



For the Cranberry-Walnut Granola Bar recipe, please click here. Just replace the almonds in the recipe with walnuts for this version. Or use both, if you'd like!

5 comments:

  1. Wow, they're going to be so happy to receive these! Those coconut butter cookies look the best to me!!

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  2. This is such a great project! I bet the guys and gals overseas I going to be thrilled!

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  3. the butter cookies look awesome! like they'll melt in the mouth:)

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  4. I think I'm going to have to borrow your lemon cookie recipe. They look yummalicious!

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  5. ~RecipeGirl: I hope so . . . I haven't shipped much in the way of edibles before. The coconut cookies are really easy to make and come out so well.

    ~Kristen: It is a great project - really fun and easy to take part in!

    ~Mansi: Thank you! I was thinking of drizzling them with a bit of chocolate, but they're really good on their own, so I didn't.

    ~Michelle: Please do . . . these lemon cookies are so good! Versatile, too. You can replace the lemon extract with almond - delicious.

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