Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

For the week of January 11th, I made a Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookie. A recipe I found in the Martha Stewart Cookies book. I was looking for something simple and when I flipped to this recipe, it called for 1 ripe banana, which I just happened to have. In fact just minuted before finding the recipe, I was thinking the banana looked like it was getting a little too ripe and I needed to find something to do with it - so this seemed like a perfect match.

The cookies only call for 1 banana in about 3 dozen cookies, so it didn't seem like there would be much banana flavor, but boy was I wrong! These cookies were amazing. I made them at 1pm in the afternoon and they didn't last through the evening. They definitely didn't make it to work or any remote taste testers.

Unfortunately, with the quick disappearance of the cookies, I didn't get any photos. So a few days later, I decided to make another batch to take to work. Once again these cookies were very popular at the office.

I would definitely suggest this recipe. It has a surprising amount of banana flavor, it's an oatmeal based cookie (even though you can barely tell there is oatmeal inside) and it calls for chocolate chunks. However, if your store is like mine, they don't always keep the chunks in stock, so I just substituted regular chocolate chips. The baking time is wrong in the recipe (at least for my oven) which produced a few overcooked ones in the first batch. Even the overcooked ones were delicious, as they had a little bit of a crunchy outside.

The cookies are cakelike and soft. I am more of a chewy cookie girl, but honestly, I couldn't stop eating these. The recipe says they're only good to store for 3 days, but they won't last that long - so make extra!

With all the busy holidays, my light box is still not complete. I wanted to get pictures of these, but there was a very small window before they were all gone. Maybe I will make them a third time and post up some photos for you to see.

Christmas Time Cookies - Cherry Cheesecake

Ok, I didn't post in a timely manner. I'm catching up now. I will admit that for the week of December 21st, I did not bake anything for this blog. The reason being, my website had a ton of Christmas orders and I literally spent the entire week prior to Christmas mixing, baking and packaging every night. I could have never gotten it all done without the help of my sweetie, Keith, who learned how to use the sealer and packaged over 15 dozen cookies for me in one sitting.

Other than Christmas cookies, I have been trying to formulate a new recipe for Cherry Cheesecake cookies, which hasn't been going so well. I have made about 5 attempts over the last several weeks and they have nearly all come out either too gooey or too sweet (tasting more like a sugar cookie than cheesecake). I have a great recipe for a lemony cheesecake cookie, which is a slice cookie and comes out with a shortbread texture. The taste is good, but I was looking to create a drop cookie with a hint of some kind of fruit topping.

For my first idea, I thought I would use cherry pie filling, which I had pureed in the blender as my fruit topping. I wanted to make a cookie dough, which just had ribbons of fruit topping mixed in. I made up my dough and gently folded in about 1/4C of the pureed fruit just a couple of times. Here's what the cookies looked like when they were baked:

Although they had the look of a cookie with a ribbon of cherry filling running throughout, the consistency was very moist and not at all cookie like. So I went back to the drawing board, trying to work out the moisture issues with the recipe. The first problem is that cream cheese, which is essential to making a cheesecake tasting cookie has more water than butter. Second problem is a little of the moisture from the cherry puree was also getting into the cookies - all this equals too much moisture and not good cookies.

So I adjusted my recipe, tweaking the amount of butter and cream cheese to try to get a desirable moisture level. I also decided to try making them in to thumbprint cookies, so the cherry puree wouldn't actually be added to dough mixture.

Although these cookies came out less moist. They had lost the cheesecake flavor from reducing the amount of cream cheese. The cherry puree thumbprint idea worked well. I may use this in my next attempt. Alas, after several tries, we grew tired of eating bad cherry cheesecake cookies, so I decided to put these on the back burner and move on to something else.

There will be more cherry cheesecake posts to come.

No, I haven't been cheating on my plan...

Okay, so I haven't posted in more than a month. I know, I'm a slacker. The holidays were busy and I was sick for a while. I did do some baking, I have just failed to write about it here.

So here goes:

For the week of December 14th, I prepared Rolled Sugar Cookies from the Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine (circa something like 2003). I've had this magazine around for years and this has been my go to sugar cookie recipe, when I have the time to mix and chill and roll and chill and cut and chill, does take a tremendous amount of time to prepare these cookies. However, if you carefully follow the steps outlined in Martha's recipe, you will prepare a perfect sugar cookie in any shape you desire.

For all the years I have prepared these cookies, I have been told they were the best sugar cookies ever. For a few years I put them into Christmas cookie baskets that were given away to friends and family. One year, I asked my dad if he enjoyed the snowflake shape sugar cookies from his basket and he said he hadn't seen any cookies like that. Turns out my step mom ate them all before he got home from work. I've also had people tell me they hate sugar cookies, try these and change their tune.

This year, I decide to bake these cookies not only for the purpose of blogging about them, but also as a activity for Keith and his kids. So, I spent an evening preparing and chilling and baking cookies in various holiday shapes.

As you can see, the shapes came out great! That's all thanks to Martha's tip of rolling the dough out flat and putting it in the freezer before hitting it with the cookie cutters. The colder the dough is when you put it on the sheet, the better the shape will hold.

Well, Keith and the kids came over and we outfitted several bags of colored icing. Everyone had fun learning how to ice cookies. Unfortunately, I beat the icing a little too much and it was a little stiff. The kids had a little trouble squeezing the bag hard enough to get the icing out at first, but once we got them started they were having a great time.

Everyone made their own little pile of decorated cookies to enjoy. Here is my finished product.