Tag Archives: cookies

Cinnamon Cookies

Making dinner for the interview candidate and members of the department, I wanted something to go with my little custards in their old-fashioned pots. I had in mind a crisp cookie, strong on the cinnamon, a nice contrast to the creamy texture and quiet profile of the custard. Looking through cookbooks, I simply could not find what I wanted so this is what I made:

cinnamon-snaps

They were better than the custards. Hands kept returning to the bowl long after dessert was supposedly finished, to extract another and another and another. So here is the recipe.

R’s Cinnamon Crisps

1 cup butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

2 to 4 drops cinnamon oil depending on how you feel about cinnamon

2 cups flour

2 heaping teaspoons of psyllium husk, ground (optional)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

grated nutmeg to taste

——————————————————————

Cream butter and sugar, add and beat in egg and cinnamon oil. Add sifted combined dry ingredients remaining, about 1/4 cup at a go, until all is combined. Shape into 1/2″ high by about 2″ flattened logs, recangular in cross-section, about 10″ long. Wrap and chill about 3 hours, then slice 1/4″ thick and arrange on bakinf sheets. Bake in preheated oven (375 F) about ten minutes, but watch them because they burn quickly! Makes about 40 cookies to 50. If you like them un-crisp you can just barely bake them through. That works too.

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Cookie Press Instructions and Recipe

Like so many of the rest of us, I don’t remember year to year exactly how the Williams – Sonoma cookie press works. Thus, when I haul it out, I try twisting different parts to get it clean and ready to press cookies. My Williams and Sonoma model came without instructions (as apparently is the norm) and I have found none on line. I am also aware of the cries of frustration from other owners. So let me share some illustrations and pointers about how mine works, now that I have embarked upon the rediscovery of its aspects, and let me share with you also my version of a good Spritz cookie dough for the machine, one that is more tender and flavorful than the old recipe I found in a cookbook. Perhaps most importantly – it extrudes well!

boxes-of-ready-cookies

So as you will see I make boxes of cookies and then assemble many plates for giving to family and friends. Someone asked me last week if I participated in a cookie exchange. No, I’m sorry, I can imagine nothing that would better take the fun out of getting the chance to guiltlessly make every sort of cookie I feel like making! And I have a suite of favorite recipes. I think it’s a rare year that I make fewer than twelve types.

ws-cookie-press-disassembled1

So here is a photo of my press with all the parts that are supposed to disassemble, separated for cleaning. Next, a series showing how to put the item together.

detail-of-notches-in-holder

The ring at the application end has a series of notches that you must align with the protrusions on the metal barrel before you pull off the plastic base ring. Lefty-loosey, righty tighty.

depress-key-to-pull-out-serrated-plunger

You will want to depress the ‘key’ at the top of the barrel in order to release the plunger to withdraw it to the top of its settings. Now– pack the dough into the cylindrical barrel with your fingers. Use gloves — nitrile gloves are great for this purpose. When the cylinder is well-packed, select your metal pattern and set it on the dough.

assembling-better

Push the ring on to the barrel trapping the metal pattern in place against the dough and screw the ring a half turn on to secure it to the barrel..

When pressing the cookies onto the pan make sure the pan is cool, and not greasy. Either of these issues will make the cookie adhere more to the press than to the cookie sheet! Also, relax, pump the trigger once and wait for a count of three. The first cookie is likely not to be perfect, and you may find that more dough comes out at each pump as you go on, probably due to a slight warming of the cylinder in your hands. Remember that you can give a pump and a half, if you want a bit more dough but you don’t want as much as two pumps would give. It’s an art form!

placing-cookies-on-sheet

I like dusting these cookies with colored sparkling sugars before baking. Sometimes as many as three hues per cookie– this seems to give a very cheerful effect.

cookies-on-pan-and-rack

Here’s the recipe itself– modified substantially from the old one I used to follow, to give a shorter dough and a more tender and fragrant crumb. Makes about six dozen.

SPRITZ                                                                                                                                                              (all ingredients room temperature and oven at 375 Farenheit)

2 cups unsalted butter creamed with 1 1/3 cups sugar. Add one egg and beat until fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. First sift together, then add by the quarter cup, 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a 1/4 teaspoon salt.

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Cookies for Professor Norris

Gray morning, we may be starting the summer pattern here with the sea fog hanging high in the early part of the day, sometimes dissipating in the afternoon. Hard to concentrate, though you’d think my dark little study would echo the day and allow the best of focus. But I’m not there. I’m wandering about picking up things and putting them down, poking at ideas. I’ll be baking cookies for the memorial service for Professor Norris later today.

Maybe that’s what troubles me. Not the baking, that’s always good except for the days I get distracted and scorch a pan of cookies. Husband always says, ”you have a timer, don’t you?” and I stick out my tongue at him and say “having isn’t the same as using.” Because I can’t seem to bother with the timer. I always feel like I should grock the doneness of the cookies, and ever since I got these ovens from the Restore (Habitat for Humanity re-sale store in town) the insulation on them is so good I get no clues from the smell that the cookies are nearing perfection.

So what is it? Simply that I’m feeling losses today? Missing Professor Norris who was one of the first people to make us feel like we belonged here in California when we arrived over twenty five years ago? With his dry humor and disciplined manner, the twinkle in his eye and his bow ties? He had just retired, and my husband was taking his spot in the department. One bow tie saluted another.

Professor Norris’ passing last year left an empty place. I recall him taking swarms of students out into the field, old desert rat that he was, knowing every stretch of wind-blasted open, every stunted palos verde, every triumphant Joshua tree. Geology by day, tracing the history that brought these stones, these mountains into place and the forces that will in time to come, move them on. Stories in the flickering light of the campfire of the time one of his companions on an expedition to Mexico developed appendicitis and the desperate race to get him back to a doctor and surgery, a wheezing Ford rattling its way in the grim and lonely night.

But he was tired those last weeks, he hated the walker and the falls, missed the questions of the students, the freedoms of his desert territory. Missed tending his own garden. We owe him our garden. He and his wife decided when they heard their neighbors discussing selling their home that we would make good neighbors, and that’s how we ended up here in this rustic corner of land with rows of trees and the land and home that have so enriched our days.

And by the way, those second-hand ovens from the Restore? I had new electronic double ovens that cost me over $1200 but their brains started going. Got the brains replaced by a nice tech, a couple hundred dollars more, and as soon as that one year warranty ran out they started to think their own thoughts again. I used to flip the breaker before leaving the house because I’d caught these ovens turning themselves on to preheat.
I donated some items to the Restore and my eye noted that they had ovens for sale. Big heavy duty analogue control panel ovens. I admired the insulation, opened them– no one had bothered to clean them before donating. I checked the enamel, scraped at the old cheese. I figure these ovens, Kitchenaids, had only been used for pizza – in fact the pizza stone was still inside. Bought them for $29. No, I didn’t forget any zeroes. Installed for $150. Best baking ovens ever, and they never thought of thinking for themselves at all.
Time to bake cookies.

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