Friday, November 17, 2006

Gentlemen, Start Your Ovens ...

Yesterday, I bought 10 pounds of Land O' Lakes butter.

Cookie season is here.

Over the weekend, I composed the 2006 Cookie List. Some cookies are perennial cookies, and some are annual. The annual cookies vie for slots on the perennial cookie list. Adding new ones every year keeps the stash from being predictable, and it's fun for me to find new recipes to bake. And, I'm suspecting, it's fun for the recipients to find a new bundle to eat.

I stopped making chocolate chip cookies a couple years ago. Now, don't get me wrong: I love a good chocolate chip cookie. But they're rather pedestrian and ubiquitous. They lack a necessary holiday oomph.

So this year's list is thus:

1. Oatmeal Raisin
Talk about pedestrian, you say! But they're a favorite of almost everyone and their earthiness suits the winter season. Hearty cookies, these. And I use golden raisins, which makes them different. I don't want to brag (too loudly) but Bill Kurtis is in love with my oatmeal raisin cookies. They're literally tender with him. When I taught a class at Columbia, he was a guest speaker and as I walked him to the elevator after his chat, I told him I could get him $50 for his trouble (from the school) or make him oatmeal raisin cookies. "Cookies!" he said, in his sonorous voice. And so cookies it was. A ridiculous volume of cookies. The box had to weigh 10 pounds. Bill just gets these at Christmas now. He would riffle through the assortment to find these every year, so I've just cut out the cookie middlemen.

2. Russian Teacakes
You may know these as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Snowballs. I like Russian Teacakes. The name sounds so refined. These are dangerously tasty cookies, easy to make, bite-sized. Far too easy to pop 'em in your mouth, one after another. Dangerous, too, though, because if you inhale as you're taking a bite of a powdered-sugared cookie, the sugar catches in your throat and you start coughing. Very un-tealike behavior.

3. Chocolate Crinkles
Some people call them Brownie Drops, but Chocolate Crinkles is a much better name. They're indeed a brownie-like consistency, but you roll them in powdered sugar before baking, so as the cookies spread, the powdered sugar cracks, revealing the cookie inside. Very dramatic contrast. Dave digs these. I always go heavy on these for the assortment for his family.

4. Snickerdoodles
I love food with funny names. And I love simple flavors. And I love sugar and cinnamon. So these are a no-brainer.

5. Toffee Squares
A cookie that looks like a candy! Insanely rich, and when the pan of cookie comes out of the oven, you put Hershey bars on top and let them soften, then spread them into an even layer, top with chopped toasted walnuts and cut them into pieces. In my cookie world, neatness counts, so I always cut away the edges first, so all the pieces are perfectly even, and then I get to eat all the edges.

6. Peanut Butter Cookies
Yup, the kind with the criss-cross pattern made by smooshing the cookie balls with the back of a fork. These are my father's favorite, so they get made every year. Sadly, these are made with a part of shortening, evil hydrogenated vegetable oil. So I must find a new recipe. Next year.

7. Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints
I do not use my thumb. I use a tomato shark to make the imprint and I pipe the raspberry preserves into the center using a Ziploc bag as a makeshift piping device. Works like a dream. These chocolate cookies have mini chocolate chips mixed into the batter to boost the chocolate experience. These are mom's new favorite. We got the recipe from a cashier at Jewel. You never know where a great recipe will come from.

8. Mint Surprises
Not such a surprise, given the name. But the cookie is formed around a chocolate mint wafer (like the kind you melt down for candy making) and it's topped with a walnut half. Very pretty. A guy I once dated liked to down these with a cup of espresso.

9. Shortbread
You gotta love a cookie that's only three ingredients. I bake them in a circle with a pretty fluted edge and cut them into wedges. Very traditional. Gemma once asked why we don't just eat a stick of butter dipped in sugar. This year, a chocolate shortbread recipe has caught my eye. I might have to give that a whirl, but I believe tradition will win in the end.

10. Coconut Biscotti
I am a sucker for coconut. These are fab because the flavor is light, so that people who can't eat a lot of sugar have an option. Or you can doctor them up with drizzled chocolate, and I'm just thinking that I should add chopped toasted almonds and make the Almond Joy equivalent of a biscotti. Damn, I'm a genius!

11. Rosemary Cookies
Yup, rosemary. This will be one of the new cookie entries, and I'm diggin' the idea. Rosemary and lemon in a cookie. More like a biscuit, as the English would call them. A humble-yet-fancy friend for the Russian Teacakes. I bought a special cookie cutter just for these.

12. Gingerbread Drops
I like gingerbread men but I'm not big into decorating cookies. These seem like a good alternative and addition. Homespun holiday flavor with a sugar coating. Another new cookie which must prove its worth.

13. Peanut Butter Munchies
Another nod to my dad. These are chocolate cookies wrapped around a peanut butter center, kind of the cookie equivalent of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I'm thinking that there is no way that these cookies can miss, but we'll see if they make an encore appearance next year.

I haven't completely locked this list. There's room for substitution if anyone has a recipe that they believe deserves a shot at the glory. You know where to find me.


Anonymous Pat said...

You make oatmeal raisin cookies for the dude from "Investigative Reports"? I love that show, and I love oatmeal raisin. Good shit.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I do, indeed! Hey, e-mail me with your address and I'll ship some to you. Think of it as a little engagement present for you and Geeta.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Never underestimate the effectiveness of a well-made chocolate chip cookie. But, even better, what about a double chocolate chip concoction? Or, maybe, an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie - why does no one ever make those?

Verification word: xdosn

12:28 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

You know, Dave, no one's prohibiting you from making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which, incidentally, I do make, but with peanut butter, to cover all the bases.
Get in the kitchen, man! Cookies are easy!

12:31 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Yesterday, I bought 10 pounds of Land O' Lakes butter.
Um, sometimes you really scare me.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Would you be saying that if you were on the cookie recipient list? Cuz you could get added, but not if you're givin' me lip, mister!

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

To second, 1 package of butter = 1 lb. It goes quick when baking. Mar tears through about that much around the holiday baking time. She is using 4lbs of butter for t-giving dinner prep as it is.

11:48 AM  

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