Saturday, May 7, 2011

Black and White Cookies

I have never been as adept at baking as I am at cooking. Baking is so fickle! You are required to follow very precise measurements and instructions in a specific order. Try to rush the process of your bread rising and it will taste more like a brick than the fluffy goodness that you imagine (check).  Leave cookies in for a minute too long and suddenly they are burnt (check). Eat dry banana bread because you experiment with using apple sauce instead of oil (check). 

Even if you follow the recipe precisely, you may waste time, money and energy on a dessert that just turns out wrong. Alyssa can attest to the great cheesecake failure of 2010... Cheesecake, I am coming after you. You are now on my list of desserts to master.

Well, I decided to start baking more. A perfect idea as the temperature creeps up and running the oven for even a short time makes my small apartment feel like a sauna.

Step 1- Buy several essential fun supplies that were missing from my baking tools, as in cookie cutters and a icing decorating set (for future projects).

Step 2- Bake something you have made before in order to get warmed up: Black and White sugar cookies.

Black and White cookies 
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
16 Tbs (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix everything together with a wooden spoon. (I used whole wheat flour because I am trying to use it more than regular flour-this makes the white in the cookies slightly yellow).

2. Add the butter and mix until the flour mixture is moist.

3. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and continue mixing until the dough is created.

4. Split the dough in half. Pour the cocoa powder onto a clear surface and knead the cocoa powder into one half of the dough until the cocoa is incorporated.

5. Split the white dough into two pieces and the brown dough into two pieces.  Roll each piece until it is about 2 feet long and all four pieces are even. Press the sides of each piece against a flat surface until the dough is flat on each side and is in a rectangular shape.

6. Put the pieces on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least half an hour until the dough is chilled.

7.  Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix the other egg in a bowl. Arrange the four strips into a checker board pattern and use a pastry brush to brush the egg against each piece and press the pieces together.

8. Cut the entire block of dough into pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place each piece on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies feel firm when pressed lightly and the edges are just beginning to brown.



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