Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This week I did something I have long wanted to do: I joined Tuesdays with Dorie. Over the past few months, I've watched fellow food bloggers post pictures of their goodies, and I felt a little left out. It sounded like such fun, such camaraderie, a weekly event of baking and blogging, two of my favorite hobbies. I wanted to jump in, I really did.
I even took a copy of the requisite book, Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, out of the library, to see what was involved in the recipes. Of course I fell in love with it and ended up buying my own copy. But still, I held off joining the weekly baking group, not sure I was ready for this type of commitment.
Two things occurred that would change my mind. First, my husband bought me a Kitchen Aid Artisan Series stand mixer for my birthday this summer. It is metallic chrome and it is beautiful. To me, an avid bread baker who makes a yeast dough of some sort as least once every week, my gleaming Kitchen Aid is more beautiful than a diamond bracelet. (You cannot knead bread dough with a diamond bracelet. You can't even wear a diamond bracelet while kneading bread dough. A diamond bracelet is afraid of bread dough. But not my Kitchen Aid!)
The second thing was the Operation Baking Gals event, which sent me poring over cookbooks, looking for cookie recipes that would travel well. (More on Operation Baking Gals later; in the meantime, check out my post on Justbaking.net, if you'd like.) Between the use my new stand mixer was getting and the cookie recipes that were stacking up on my counter, I started to consider just how much time I spend baking every week anyway. The answer: a lot.
I love to bake - it's fun, therapeutic, a fantastic creative outlet, and it makes the house smell good. I make homemade pizza dough every weekend for our family dinner-and-a-movie night; I bake much of our bread; I am a firm believer in giving home-baked gifts of oven-love. Why on earth was I fearing a weekly commitment? I adore baking! It's not as if I was joining a clean-your-closets club or making a weekly date to scrub grout (shudder). Suddenly, I couldn't come up with any reasons not to join TWD, so I did.
I present my first offering as a member of TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters. These cookies are seriously good. I was excited by the oats (I used organic rolled oats), which contribute a wonderful chewiness to the cookie. I used creamy peanut butter, because that's what I had more off. And to keep things interesting, I used two different types of chocolate chips: Hershey's semisweet and Ghirardelli's 60% cocoa, which are huge and delicious.
My kitchen was about 85 degrees the day I made the dough, so the softened butter and peanut butter whipped up very quickly and the resulting dough was super soft. Had I baked these directly from the mixer without chilling them first, the cookies would have looked like Florentines, no doubt, spreading out like lace all over the baking sheet. Instead, I put dough in the fridge overnight and baked it off the next afternoon. Perfect! The texture of the chilled dough was a little stiff but manageable. It wasn't crumbly or overly hard, perhaps because I'd incorporated enough air into it during the beating phase. [Note: This recipe calls for a relatively long beat time; I used my Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment for this.]
To form the cookies, I used a medium cookie scoop and then flattened each cookie to about 1/2 inch with the heel of my hand. This was ideal because all the cookies were of uniform size, and I got 60 or so cookies out of the dough, just as the recipe suggested I would.
I baked them on a sheet of parchment paper at 350 degrees F for about 13 or 14 minutes, and although the cookies expanded and spread a little bit, they still held up to be a fairly thick cookie. I let them cool on the pan for 1 minute before removing to a rack. When cool, they were soft and chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside: absolutely delicious.
The next time I make these - and oh, there will be a next time! - I'll reduce the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon. I found that it overpowered the peanut butter flavor, which is quite subtle. I might also replace some of the butter with peanut butter, and replace half of the chocolate chips with peanut butter chips. Finally, I would replace 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
This is a terrific recipe - I'm terribly glad I jumped on the bandwagon when I did! As I was scooping dough out onto the baking sheet, my husband meandered into the kitchen. "You're baking cookies?" he asked in the same tone one might say, I won a vacation for four to Hawaii? "Yup," I said, dropping another row of cookies into place on the sheet. "Cookies - for me?" "Yes, dear, you get to eat these." (Okay, so, I have to give away most of what I bake or we'd all be 600 pounds. They don't call it tough love because it's easy!) His brows drew together. "Why? What's up?" "Well, these are for that baking group I told you about. Remember? Tuesdays with Dorie?" He eyed the little mounds of dough polka-dotted with dime-sized chocolate chips and said, "I like Dorie."
Thanks for choosing these, Stefany!