Thursday, November 18, 2010

chai sugar cookies

So, obviously one type of cookie was not enough for our presentation.  I always feel that having only one thing to offer is alienating to people who might not like that particular flavour (even though people who don’t like chocolate are insane).  With two types of goodies, you stand a better chance of pleasing most people.
I wanted to do something along the same lines as the world peace cookies in terms of easiness, so I went with another Dorie recipe, Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies.  To mix things up a bit, I added a combination of chai spices and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar as they came out of the oven.  It occurred to me afterwards that I might be overdoing it with the chai flavour, but then I thought about when my sister worked as a barista and would complain about how many people ordered chai lattés.  Clearly, people like chai.

Things might be a bit quiet here for a few days.  Grad school apps are knocking on my door.  Trying to sound unique is the hardest task I've faced in a while!

Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
From the book Baking by Dorie Greenspan
Hosted by Culinate
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)

Chai Spice Mix
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 ts cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1.      Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder and chai spice mix together.
2.      Working with a stand mixer, preferably one fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated — because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy, and malleable.
3.      Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap it in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you — I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
4.      Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
5.      If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly.
6.      Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.)
7.      After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.
8.      If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches of space between the cookies.
9.      Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
10.     Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

You can stir zest into the dough or add chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or grated chocolate. And these cookies take nicely to icing.

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