Finally...an update up to the first entry!
One Saturday night, Jon and I were driving around searching for Sopranos locations (P.S. They tore down Satriale's!), and we somehow came up with the brilliant idea of combining words describing sadness with the names of different foods. I think it started with "depretzel" and then just went on from there. The formula is to start with a word describing some sort of sadness and to end with a food. Here's what we have so far:
glum pudding (from reader Lorraine)
New: it's all in your head of lettuce (from OCG himself)
Anybody got an addition to the list?
Lavender's got a light, floral, and clean-tasting flavor that can go either savory or sweet. Lavender paired with citrus would make a great cookie. Drizzling that cookie with a light icing would make it even better.
Lavender combined with other Provençal herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, bay leaf, and marjoram would make an awesome base for a savory treat--perhaps even a "Provençal Fields" version of my Scarborough Fair Cookies.
Lavender is a pretty versatile ingredient. (And it doesn't hurt that it's really pretty.) Stay tuned...I'm sure I'll come up with something.
Here’s the most up-to-date list.
Good Ol’ Peanut Butter
Dark Earl Grey
Fourth of July
Dulce de Leche
Mulled Apple Cider
Lisa, a reader, emailed me this afternoon and asked the following questions:
Hi OCG! I have some questions....What’s your favorite cookie that you make? Are there any that you don’t like?
Hi, Lisa. Thanks for writing in! That's an interesting question. My most recent favorite is my Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies. I could throw them back one after the other. (That's why I shared them. I had to get them out of the house.)
My other favorites are my stuffed cookies. They're a little more work than my more traditional cookies, but they're really, really good. And those ice cream sandwiches I made for Mumma with my Lime in the Coconut Cookies were worthy of a pat on the back.
As for my least favorites...well, just take a look at the crossed-out items on the list. The Elvis Cookie, a peanut butter, banana, and Bacos creation, didn't do it for me. I haven't given up on the concept, though. And my Chocolate Malted cookies just didn't work. And I think the jury is still out on my Chocolate & Chipotle Cookies: some thought there wasn't enough heat, some thought the heat was just right, and some thought the heat was off the charts. (Maybe I should have stayed with 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, like I did in my Hot(ter) Chocolate Cookies.)
Here's the recipe for my Chocolate & Chipotle Cookies in process.
Grind the oatmeal and then the graham crackers.
Cream the creamables. This mixture is super tasty: butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. As Ina Garten would say, "How bad can that be?"
Combine the wet ingredients. Scrambling eggs with one hand and taking a picture with the other hand is harder than you might think.
Combine the dry ingredients. It's funny how such a small amount of chipotle can stand up to so much chocolate and cinnamon and still have a kick.
Add the dry ingredients to the combined creamables and wet ingredients. So chocolaty, so innocent...not!
Scoop, sugar, and bake the cookies. (I forgot to snap the sugaring step, but I think you get the picture.)
Don't just take my word for it. Check out this Google search. When it comes to dessert, basil is the new mint. I know...it sounds bonkers, but tastes really, really good.
Jon and I had a dessert called "Vacherin" at Eleven Madison earlier this month that paired little cubes of fresh strawberries with leaves of micro basil and basil, lemon, and strawberry sorbets. Neither Jon nor I knew what to expect, but when the plate landed on our table we dove right in. It was so light and refreshing--a perfect summertime dessert--that we could have eaten two more...apiece.
Don't worry: I don't foresee a basil-strawberry cookie in the future. (Hmm...or do I?) But if you're feeling adventurous, stop by the produce aisle, pick up some strawberries and basil, and taste for yourself.
The old cooking refrain that "hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick" may be true, but I have another bit to add: "plastic bowl, hot oil, food falls through bottom."
My first two attempts at making homemade microwave popcorn didn't go so well. The first time, Saran Wrap melted to the sides of the plastic bowl and wouldn't come off. The second time, the plastic bowl started melting, and when I took it out of the microwave, unpopped kernels started dropping through the bottom.
So take my advice: use a Pyrex casserole dish if you're going to make homemade microwave popcorn.
I did it! Today I completed my assignment to bake an El Paso-themed oatmeal cookie for Evelyn and her students at the University of Texas--El Paso.
Evelyn said her students "don’t want any old Texas recipe, they want an El Paso, TX, recipe, so that means put chili (long green, jalapeno, chipotle--any kind) in it somehow." So that's what I did.
I started with my Hot(ter) Chocolate recipe, which includes lots of chocolate and cinnamon and a healthy dash of cayenne pepper. (For those of you out there who haven't tasted the classic chocolate-and-chili pairing, you've really got to give a try.) I then swapped out the cayenne with a teaspoon of chipotle chili powder.
This cookie is super chocolaty and has both a pronounced cinnamon warmth and a peppery bite. Mmm...caliente! A roll in turbinado sugar before baking gives these cookies a nice crunch. And the ground-up graham crackers add that little something that will keep you coming back for more. Bring them in to your teacher, and you'll get an A!
(To see this recipe in process, check out Picturing Chocolate & Chipotle Cookies [Holy Mole!].)
2 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups finely ground oatmeal
1 cup finely ground graham crackers
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2.5 oz milk chocolate, microplaned
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, microplaned2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Linda, a new reader, left the following query on my Raspberry-Chocolate Fondue post:
“Hey...found you on the Melissa C Morris blog...and then found all these extra wonderful cookie recipes.....but what the heck is strawberry milk mix......and where would I find it...thanks for any help....I think I found a new favorite blog.”
Hi, Linda! Thanks for writing in. Strawberry milk mix is a pink powder that you add to milk to give it a sweet, strawberry-ish flavor. Essentially, it’s a pink, fruity version of chocolate milk mix.
I used a small amount of strawberry milk mix in my Raspberry-Chocolate Fondue cookie recipe because it provides a really nice balance to the rich chocolate flavor and also dials up the volume on the raspberries.
I used White Rose, a local New York brand, because it’s what my grocery store had, but Strawberry Quik is probably the most readily available brand of strawberry milk mix in the country. In your grocery store, look for strawberry milk mix near the chocolate milk mix and other instant beverages like Kool-Aid, Ovaltine, and Crystal Light. (I think I found it between the peanut butter and the taco shells at my grocery store, but that's another story entirely.)
Additionally, you'll need dehydrated raspberries, which you can buy online or at any Whole Foods store.
Thanks again, Linda. I hope this helps!
No Saturday night in with an old movie on TMC--The Bad and the Beautiful is tonight's "essential"--would be complete without popcorn. But after spending all day in the heat and sun (we walked up to the Central Park reservoir and back), the last thing either Jon or I wanted was something salty. So what's the solution? Make our own salt-free microwaveable popcorn from scratch, of course.
I remembered reading this post on homemade microwave popcorn on Mark Bittman's New York Times food blog and got to work. I opted for a bowl instead of the brown paper bag, and I also opted for olive oil over peanut oil.
I used 1/4 cup popcorn, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and about a dozen grinds of freshly cracked black pepper. We also made a variation with cayenne pepper, but you could try adding any spice you want: chipotle, cinnamon, or even curry powder. Make sure you use a glass--preferably Pyrex--bowl with a lid, not a plastic bowl and Saran Wrap. (Trust me on this! It wasn't until my third attempt that I switched to a Pyrex covered casserole dish.)
Stir the popcorn, oil, and pepper well to make sure each kernel is coated. Cover the bowl and microwave on high. One thing, though: Bittman claims that you should microwave the popcorn "until the kernels stop [popping], which is high heat for two minutes in many cases," but this is laughably inaccurate. Maybe it was the kind of popcorn I bought (well, more accurately, I sent Jon downstairs to the store), and maybe it was my microwave, but it took a whopping 4:30 for my popcorn to reach that magic place where the majority of the kernels have popped without burning and stinking you out of your house.
However, you might want to park yourself close to your microwave to keep both an ear and a nose out to catch the popcorn as the popping slows down and before it starts to burn.
Summer Fridays in New York are nice and quiet and empty--perfect for going on a marathon-log walk and exploring the city. While we did make it from Chelsea in Manhattan to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, we didn't quite take as long a walk as we did last Friday because we cheated and took the train home. The sun really took the pep out of me. Maybe I should have had a second doughnut...
...from Doughnut Plant! Jon had the yeast vanilla bean (top left), and I had the yeast coconut glazed (top right). The breakfast of champions.
We stopped by 1 Centre Street again to see if we'd catch the Law and Order people filming like last week, when we saw Kathryn Erbe. (I was hoping to snag a pic of Chris Noth or Sam Waterston for Mumma.) When I saw Judith Light (top left), I thought we hit SVU paydirt. But then I recognized Rebecca Romijn (in sunglasses, top left) and saw the cast chairs (top right): Ugly Betty.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. This time, I was the jerk holding up traffic by taking pictures.
As seen on the streets of Brooklyn: the Bed Bug Club in Boerum Hill and a white tiger in Park Slope. (Where were Sigfried and Roy?)
Lunch at Moutarde in Park Slope. Nicoise salad sans anchovies (top left) and a warm goat cheese salad (top right). The whole time I had Mumma's voice echoing in my head: "Ugh...goat cheese!"
Prospect Park. So empty, so wonderful! Jon and I spent the afternoon and early evening on the grass under a tree planning this week's cookies and daydreaming about Brooklyn brownstones. Scratch-ticket millionaires?
Jon told her about my Chocolate & Salted-Caramel Cookies (right), which are so good it's scary, but Princess Ariele doesn't want chocolate and salted caramel. She wants chocolate topped with salt. No ifs, ands, or buts! (She doesn't call herself "princess" for nothing.)
Lorraine, a reader and real-life cookie taster, emailed me to say:
“The cookies you brought here last Sat. (Blueberry Muffin Top and chocolate chip) where sooo delicious and plentiful that I decided to freeze them in the hopes of not overeating. They froze so well that when I took one out and microwaved it for a few seconds, it tasted like a freshly baked cookie. It's good to know how well they held up to the freezing process, but I ended up eating way too many anyway!”
Thanks, Lorraine! But don't worry about eating too many of my cookies, especially the Blueberry Muffin Tops. They're loaded with oatmeal (fiber) and blueberries (antioxidants), and they don't have any eggs, so they're practically health food.
But this is a really good tip for cookie bakers out there. Freeze your extras so that you can have fresh-baked cookies on hand "on demand."
Oh, yeah! Cookies are in the lead...by a lot...in my Cookies vs. Cupcakes poll. Take that, cupcakes!
I guess I tipped my hand. In case you couldn't tell, I'm a cookie man, not a cupcake man.
Voting still remains open, so feel free to weigh in.
Here’s the most up-to-date list.
Good Ol’ Peanut Butter
Dark Earl Grey
Fourth of July
Dulce de Leche
Mulled Apple Cider
Mikey, a reader and lover of coconut, left the following query on my White Chocolate Macaroon post.
"These cookies look awesome... I really, really like macaroons. How did you toast the coconut? Can you buy toasted coconut? Where?"
Thanks for writing in, Mikey. I don't think I've ever seen (already) toasted coconut for sale in the grocery store. (Has anybody out there?) I toast my own coconut in the oven. Depending on how much I need, I use either a half-sheet pan (for about 2 cups) or an oven-safe frying pan (for fewer than 2 cups). Spread out the coconut (I use Baker's brand "angle flake" sweetened coconut) in an even layer, put the pan in the oven, and bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes, stirring the flakes every couple minutes with a wooden spoon. Don't let the flakes get too dark while they're in the oven because they'll continue to toast as they cool. (Carry-over cooking and all...) It's best to pull the coconut out just as the flakes become golden brown and still look kind of shiny. Pour the coconut in a bowl and let it cool. (You'll get burned coconut if you leave it in the still-hot pan.)
It's really simple, but you've just got to keep an eye--and a nose--on the oven because coconut can burn easily. (I have an "Oops!" or two to share on that topic.) I hope this helps!
Last Friday, I baked a batch of my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for Jon's cousin Rachael, who's away at music camp. Rachael left a thank-you message as soon as she received the cookies. And I got this email from Lorraine a few days ago:
"Just spoke to [Uncle] Warren, and he said that [Cousin] Rachael allowed him and [Aunt] Melissa one cookie each when they went to visit yesterday. Everyone loved them!! Warren said you must have done an amazing job packing and shipping them because they tasted like perfectly freshly baked cookies. We're still enjoying your cookies here!"
Woohoo! Mission accomplished.
Sad news, guys. Estelle Getty--Sophia from The Golden Girls--passed away this morning.
Jon and I loved this show. We watched it so often that we'd use the shorthand "Double G's" instead of the full title. They don't make shows like the Double G's anymore...
Jon and I used to love watching The Two Fat Ladies. The way they mooshed ingredients together with their hands was something to behold. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Jennifer--the fat lady with the ruby-red nail polish--died a few years ago. Must have been all the streaky bacon...and cigarettes.
Here's the recipe for my White Chocolate Macaroons in process. I realized after I had taken all the pictures and baked all the cookies that there was a buttery fingerprint on the camera's lens. If you look carefully, you'll see a gauzy, hazy cast on the pictures...kind of like glamour shots from a mall photo studio.
Cream the creamables. I use dark brown sugar and white sugar in this recipe. The white sugar gives these very coconutty, soft cookies some firmness and structure.
I put the cream of coconut and the white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds to get everything nice and melty. Let the melted cream of coconut and white chocolate chips cool before you add the egg and extracts. Scramble everything to get all the flavors acquainted.
Mix the creamables and wet ingredients.
Assemble the dry ingredients. Mmmm...coconut!
Add the dry ingredients to the combined creamables and wet ingredients.
Scoop the dough into balls. For plump, chewy cookies, bake the dough balls as they are. For thin, crispy cookies, press the dough balls down a little with your hand before baking.
I know you're probably thinking I'm crazy. Putting chili in a cookie is just strange, goofy, and...well...just plain wrong! You might have a point. Putting chili in an oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookie is just plain wrong. But putting it in a chocolate-based cookie is just plain genius. Chocolate and chili is a perfect pairing.
My Hot(ter) Chocolate cookie is rich and chocolaty and has two layers of heat. The first layer comes from lots of cinnamon, which imparts both flavor and a pleasant warmth. The second layer comes from a dash of cayenne pepper, which adds a really nice kick of heat.
For my El Paso-themed cookie, I think I'm going to recycle my Hot(ter) Chocolate recipe and replace the cayenne pepper with chipotle. Stay tuned!
I've gotten a lot of really positive feedback on my two recipe-in-progress photo series, so I started a new category: Picturing.
Going forward, I'll add two posts for each of my cookies. One post will have the cookie recipe as well as the story behind the cookie. The second post will have the pics of the recipe in progress.
This is a tweaked version of one my earliest recipes. I made the first version as an engagement present for my brother and his fiancée. That cookie had white chocolate drizzled on top, but this time around, I decided to put the white chocolate inside the cookie.
I use white chocolate chips and melted white chocolate. I also use four kinds of coconut in this cookie: sweetened coconut, toasted sweetened coconut, cream of coconut, and coconut extract. It's the perfect cookie for all you coconut freaks.
Here's a tip: Quite a few of my recipes call for cream of coconut. I open a can of the cream of coconut, use what I need, put the remainder in a Zip-Loc bag, and then put it in the freezer. That way, I always have cream of coconut on hand, and I don't waste anything. The cream of coconut can keep in the freezer for a month or so, which is plenty of time for you to use it up in such awesome cookies as Lime in the Coconut and The Girl Scouts Are Gonna Be Jealous.
These cookies have the perfect crispy exterior/chewy interior texture. So good! For a crisper cookie, flatten the dough balls a little bit with your hand before baking. (That's what I did with this batch.)
A while ago, Al, another author from my days as an English textbook editor, emailed me this New York Times article about macaroons and the private clubs that gobble them up. Maybe I could be the macaroon supplier for these clubs. Who knows...
Makes about 4 dozen delicious cookies. To add a layer of decadence, try drizzling some melted milk chocolate on top. (To see this recipe in process, check out Picturing White Chocolate Macaroons.)
2 sticks butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cream of coconut
1 tablespoon coconut extract
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal|
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cups toasted coconut
1 cup flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Now you can reach the Oatmeal CookieBlog at www.oatmealcookie.typepad.com and at www.oatmealcookieguy.com. Thanks, Lorraine and David. Talking about URLs yesterday inspired me to carve out my own slice of internet real estate.
As promised, here's my recipe for Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies in process.
Cook the blueberries until they break down, release their color, and thicken to the consistency of jelly. Set aside to cool.
Grind the Nilla Wafers. (Shhh! They're my secret ingredient.)
Add the vanilla to the cooled blueberry mixture and whisk to combine. I wait until now to add the vanilla because I don't want it to evaporate over the heat of the stove. That's right: There are no eggs in the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the creamables. Take everything for a spin.
Add the dry ingredients. Remember to refrigerate the finished dough for about an hour. This will allow the dough to firm up, which is essential for avoiding a too-cakey texture. I also keep the dough in the fridge when I'm not scooping out dough balls.
Scoop out the dough balls and give them a roll in turbinado sugar. Bake. Try not to eat the whole batch! PS: These will leave your house smelling incredible.
I made this batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies this morning and sent it off this afternoon to Jon's cousin Rachael, who's away at music camp. (Playing the piano can be tiring. I hope these cookies give Rachael a nice pick-me-up before she performs.) Here, with my best imitation of the photography over at Smitten Kitchen, is a visual process analysis of making cookies.
Grind the oats and assemble the dry ingredients. When it comes to the chocolate, I advocate the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Hershey's milk chocolate and Nestle semisweet chips are perfect.
Cream together the creamables: the butter and dark brown sugar.
Combine the wet ingredients: the eggs, vanilla, and milk. I like to scramble everything together to ensure that all the wet ingredients are evenly distributed before I add them to the creamables.
Add the wet ingredients to the creamables. Give everything a whirl in the mixer.
Add the dry ingredients to the combined wet ingredients and creamables. (Mmm...smells good.)
By a 2-1 margin, care-uh-mel beats out car-mel in my caramel pronunciation poll. (I'm with the care-uh-mel camp.)
So far, it looks like folks around the edges of the U.S map say care-uh-mel, and folks in the middle of the map say car-mel.
Voting still remains open, so feel free to weigh in. Thanks!
Based on the results of my cookie texture poll, most people--myself included--prefer chewy cookies over crispy cookies.
But if you really want to bake some crispy cookies, check out my earlier post on getting the mouthfeel that's right for you. Or, for more info and suggestions on how to achieve the texture you desire, check out this page from the Quamut guide to baking cookies.
While I do prefer chewy cookies over crispy cookies, I think the perfect texture is a mixture of both: a crispy exterior and a chewy interior.
I've found that the best way to achieve this texture balance is to roll the dough balls in turbinado sugar before baking. For example, I used this technique with my Better Than Grandma's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (pictured here), and they turned out perfect!