Sunday, January 4, 2009


Cookies are my most favorite sweet....ok maybe tied for favorite with ice cream. I was reading a little discussion today among 3 well-known food writers about cookies and it got me thinking about my favorite compact sweet.

As a trained pastry professional I know how to create elaborate desserts using mousses, glazes and all manners of cakes and crusts. I really enjoy making them all, but in the end a simple little cookie makes me the happiest. I think it is just in the fact that it is a hand held yummy that I don't have to share. If they are small enough I feel like I can have more than one without feeling too bad about it. In that small size I can create all kinds of flavor and texture profiles. I can make batches of dough and bake just a few or the whole thing, reserving what's left in the freezer for another day.

I grew up the daughter of a chocoholic and so my earlier experience with cookies revolved around chocolate ones, homemade and store-bought (Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Mystic Mints -my personal fave- and of course Girl Scout thin mints). It wasn't until I was older that I discovered there were other cookies to try that weren't chocolate. What a revelation! Now, I am my mother's daughter, and chocolate is close to being my middle name, but I was delighted to have my cookie world blown wide open when I discovered some non-chocolate alternates. In school, under the tutelage of cookbook author and talented teacher Nick Malgieri, I discovered his amazing recipe for snowball cookies, which I like to call Russian Tea Cakes. Crumbly, buttery and fragrant from the toasted pecans, they just melt away in your mouth instantly. The other cookie I came to love were his cantuccini, a Tuscan biscotti that is really crunchy and wonderful. I made both of those when I had my pastry shop in Tustin, CA. Rosie's Bakery in Cambridge , MA introduced me to another wonderful cookie, a buttery, delicate dough I cut out into hearts usually and sandwich with raspberry jam and dust with powdered sugar. I always called them Raspberry Jewel Hearts. Unbelievable! In my first job out of school I learned about Rugelach. Oy vey! They are so good- those little flakey cream cheese pastries rolled around cinnamon-sugar and nuts (I'll admit I make a brownie filled version that is really my favorite...what can I say?). I've since gone on to discover other non-chocolate favorites like snickerdoodles ( I have a pumpkin variation that is to die for!), oatmeal scotchies, lemon sugar cookies, ginger crinkles, gingerbread (beats the heck out of sugar cookies for decorating and eating any day of the week...a shame it is seen only at Christmas!) and many more.

These days I do all of my baking at home for friends and family and it includes a lot of chocolate in the form of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, M&M chocolate Chip Cookies-a top seller at my last business- (love these last 2 straight from the freezer!), my own Glazed Maple Oatmeal Walnut cookies and a family favorite we call Cocoa Snaps, which aren't snappy at all but rather fudgy with a nice crackle on top.

Just this past Christmas I came up with a sandwich cookie variation using gingerbread that got rave reviews. I always use Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe for gingerbread. It is the best! I rolled out the dough, cut out 36 small 2" rounds and placed them on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Out of half of the rounds I cut out a 1" center making rings. I sprinkled the rings with turbinado sugar for sparkle, texture and crunch and baked those off. Once cooled, I made a lemon glaze with enough powdered sugar, fresh lemon juice and the zest from a lemon just to make it spoon-able but not too liquid-y. After stacking a ring cookie on a solid round, I filled the hole with the lemon glaze. Then let them set to firm up the glaze, about 1 hour. They are really pretty and the lemon ginger combination is a winner! Try it! Once I figure out how to add photos to the blog, I'll show you just how beautiful they are!

I can go on and on about cookies and I am sure this won't be my last word on the subject. I think I hear my mixer and chocolate chips calling me now!

1 comment:

  1. and i live so far away!!!! you are the best cookie maker ever! lets not even talk about the brownies!