December 22, 2010 § Leave a comment
When I think of Christmas cookies, of course I think of cutouts of gingerbread men and women and sugar cookies covered in royal icing and edible glitter, but my favorite cookies to make during the winter season are the white chocolate chip with cranberry cookies. I think the white and red make the cookies so naturally festive without added dyes or glitter. Besides the fact that I love white chocolate — even though it isn’t truly considered chocolate because there is no cocoa and only cocoa butter– and I actually like dried fruits, I delight in thinking of the white chocolate chips as snow balls along with the cranberries as the edible version of holly berries stuck in a little snow mountain made of dough.
A note about the way I wrote the recipe: When I was first learning to bake, I thought that recipes that only listed ingredients and a sparse description of the process to be lacking for me and I had a lot of questions as to “why do I need to do this” or “how do I do this”. I tried to write this recipe as thoroughly as possible so that a rookie baker who doesn’t even know why her baking sheet is also called a jellyroll pan will be able to recreate this recipe with relative ease. Unfortunately, this entry is an afterthought so I did not take pictures while I was creating the cookies to provide more reference. Whoops!
White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies
Ingredients (listed in order of addition):
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
12 ounce package white chocolate morsels
6 ounce package sweetened dried cranberries
Non-edible ingredients (listed in order of usage):
1 Set of measuring cups
1 Set of measuring spoons
2 Mixing bowls, preferably a large mixing bowl and small mixing bowl
1 Wire whisk or electric hand-mixer
1 Rubber spatula (Optional because just a regular tablespoon can be used, which is needed anyway)
2 Baking pans, preferably that are thick and heavy weight
Parchment paper (or aluminium foil that is lightly greased with cooking oil spray)
1 Regular tablespoon (for the record, the one you eat with)
1 Cooling rack (Optional; a substitute would be to clear a space on a table or counter for the cookies to cool while on the parchment paper)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl. These are the dry ingredients.
3. In a large mixing bowl, using a wire whisk, cream the butter and sugar before adding the two eggs. These are the wet ingredients.
4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
5. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries until fully incorporated.
6. Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and use a tablespoon to scoop out the dough into your hand. Roll the dough into balls and flatten a little into discs that are 1.5 inches in diameter. Place the cookie dough on the parchment paper about 2 inches to 2.5 inches apart.
7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes at 350F.
8. While the cookies bake, prepare the second baking sheet with parchment paper and balls of cookie dough so that when the first batch is taken out, this second batch can be placed into the oven. This step isn’t necessary but does speed up the time it takes to bake multiple batches.
9. Place the parchment paper with the cookies onto a cooling rack.
Makes about 22 3-inch cookies
Possible Questions Answered:
Why do you recommend thick and heavy weight baking sheets?
It could be that the oven in my apartment is old and does not distribute heat evenly, but whenever I place the baking pans I bought from the supermarket in the oven, a couple minutes later I hear a loud popping sound as the pans buckle and warp. This didn’t happen when I used them in newer ovens (1-2 years old ovens) though because they distribute heat evenly. The warping happens because of a combination of the heat being badly distributed and the pan being too thin. I recommend buying commercial quality, heavy-gauge baking pans if you like to bake a lot because, even though they are more expensive, they last a very long time, and you will never have the warping issue. I use Chicago Metallic Jellyroll pans.
If you don’t bake that often, I would recommend just using the disposable foil pans that are only a couple dollars and are found in the baking aisle. If you wash them, they can be used multiple times and stored away but because they are meant to be disposable, they aren’t very durable and won’t last very long. They are extremely convenient though.
Why use unsalted butter over salted butter? Why does it matter?
When it comes to baking sweet treats, using unsalted butter makes it easier to manage the amount of salt. If you only have salted butter, then, as a general rule, for every stick of salted butter, decrease the amount of salt by 1/4 tsp. So in this recipe, if you are using salted butter, just skip over adding the salt.
What if the butter isn’t softened?
Since the butter needs to be beat and mixed with the sugar — and while you could trying beating just-out-of-the-refrigerator butter with sugar, it is more difficult–, the butter should be soft so that creaming the butter with sugar is easy. I tend to assemble all the ingredients together for the cookies right before I want to start making the dough so I sometimes forget to put out the butter hours before to let the butter soft. I cheat by placing the butter in a bowl and heating the butter in the microwave for 10-13 seconds. Then I use a spoon to mush and mix the butter into a creamy consistency. Another method that most people seem to use is placing the butter between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and then pounding it and rolling it with a rolling pin.
What if the eggs aren’t at room temperature?
Only sometimes do I have the foresight to put out eggs several hours before I start baking. Whenever I forget, I cheat and place the eggs in warm water for 3 to 5 minutes or longer until the eggs no longer feel cold.
Why do I have to mix the dry ingredients separately?
This is basically the poor man’s sifter to fully blend all the ingredients so that there won’t be high concentrations of baking powder, baking soda, or salt in some cookies but not other cookies. It should be done before adding to the wet ingredients because the wet ingredients makes it harder to incorporate all the dry ingredients evenly and throughout.
Why do you use parchment paper? What are some substitutes?
To cover a baking pan when baking, there are three options: parchment paper, wax paper, and aluminum foil. Parchment paper is best for baking because it is non-stick and can withstand the high temperatures of the oven. Wax paper should not be used for baking cookies because the exposed wax paper that is not covered by cookie dough will smoke in the oven. Only use wax paper if it will be completely covered by batter, such as lining a cake pan. Aluminum foil can be used as a substitute if greased with cooking oil spray or butter because even though the foil is nonstick to the baking sheet, there is a possibility that the un-greased foil will stick to the cookies.
December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
I have always loved Spanish food since my foodie friend in LA asked me to dinner and eat tapas with her– she hated the culture and people in LA and comforted herself with good food so she always knew the best places to go; she now happily resides in Wisconsin and is attending medical school. I especially love the bright, saturated colors of the dishes and that the flavors are complex and bold. The food tastes as richly comforting as home cooking to a homesick college student subsisting on cafeteria food and late night drive-throughs. For my 24th birthday, Wayne took me to Bodega in Georgetown to celebrate with bacon-wrapped fried dates, garlicky shrimp, mussels, and squid ink seafood paella, paired with a pitcher of sangria.
December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
On moving for love:
Jenny: For the sake of our relationship, please refrain from looking into jobs that are located in Southeast Asia–exception of Singapore–, Alaska, Iceland, Ireland, ALL of Africa, ALL of South America, ALL of the Middle East, and Russia. I mean, I’ll move there but you definitely owe me an orange cat then.
Wayne: Hahahaha. Don’t worry.
Jenny: Not like Garfield-ugly. A cute orange one. That purrs.
Wayne: All cats purr!
Jenny: …Purrs more! Noticeable purring! Like “Dude what is that buzzing noise? Is the neighbor mowing his lawn at THIS hour? …Oh. It’s the cat” noticeable purring.
I’m sure all the places that I’ve listed as places I don’t want to live are actually quite lovely– I really don’t doubt that–, but the area’s climate is a HUGE factor in whether or not I want to live in a place permanently or just visit. Obviously, I don’t always get my way– especially since I’m only happy between the temperatures of 70F to 80F with low humidity and few clouds–, so people of the rest of the world, I’m sorry that your part of the world is either too cold or too hot for me; I will visit with a parka or bikini. Though, Iraq, I’ll see you in …maybe twenty, thirty years? No offense.
Since fifth grade, I’ve always wanted an orange tabby cat that I could name Copernicus, because I always thought it would be fitting to name an orange cat after the father of the heliocentric model of our solar system. I was kind of a nerd back then. Now I’m just a geek who is torn over which Doctor Who I should like.