Basically: Sticky-Buns

Basically’s last week of baking projects ends with a multi-step complicated recipe that rivals Cinnabon. I kid you not. Just don’t over bake it and you can recreate Cinnabon’s huge confectionary. This week was Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns and I learned a couple of things that I will recreate next time, because the more you know…

The final recipe landed in my inbox on Saturday morning, because it is a two-day time investment. However, I think it could be done in a day, but more on that later. 

The first task was to soften the yeast at a temperature 98F. This was the first time I ever used a thermometer and actually test the liquid temperature. I microwaved the buttermilk to take the chill off, and it took about a minute in my microwave. I added the egg and yeast, let it sit for a bit, and I was ready to roll.

Problem number 1, I don’t have a food processor, but I do have a stand mixer and have made bread dough endlessly in it over the past few months. So into the mixer went the ingredients. I used the dough hook, but I didn’t knead the dough with the ook this time. Reading the recipe, it seemed important to get a feel for the dough, and after I went through this process, I 100% agree. 

There were strict instructions not to add flour as you knead it on the counter. This was counter-intuitive, but I followed the rules. I invested in a bench scraper finally, and all I can say is WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?? I was too cheap to spend $20, and I find a use for things every damn day. It is my new favourite kitchen tool. Anyway… I pushed and pulled the dough back and forth until it was soft and silky and a little bit tacky – not sticky. It was a beautiful feeling dough. 


Into the fridge, it went to sit overnight. Here is problem number 2, I assumed it would double in volume, it didn’t apparently it doesn’t or isn’t supposed to. I put it into my biggest bowl and popped a plate over the top. There was a bit of a skin on it the next morning. I watched the Instagram story about this and Sohlea puts it into a ziplock bag overnight. So I recommend a smaller bowl or container with a tight-fitting lid. 

Rolling out the dough and shaping it with the bench scraper made this task infinitely easier (WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?) It also has a hand ruler on it so I could measure and mark out the 8” I needed. It was so pretty it brought a tear to my eye. 

Problem number 3:

  1. I don’t have a food processor. 
  2. I also don’t have dates in my pantry. 
  3. I don’t have a cast iron pan

I know I promised to follow the recipe exactly but winging it has become second nature to me. Be flexible and resourceful. 

I melted butter and spread it on the dough, and then I spread(?) sprinkled(?) brown sugar over the top. I shook liberal amounts of cinnamon over the sugar.

Rolling these into a tight spiral was so easy with the bench scraper, I know you are tired of hearing me talk about it but seriously, THIS IS IS THE BEST THING EVER!

I divided the log into three and the three again so I ended up with nine equal-ish roles. 

I solved the pan part by using one of my saucepans with a tight-fitting lid. This was excellent for proving and baking but terrible for storage. 

I let it rise for one and a half hours until the poke test didn’t bounce back and everyone was snuggly fit together. 

Into the oven it went for 20 minutes, then I removed the lid and baked another 15 because I like a softer texture like Cinnabon and a light brown colour.

I made a glaze using buttermilk – as directed. This was the perfect balance of cream cheese tang without the heaviness.  I normally don’t glaze, but I was glad I did. I only used half – I wish I used all of it.

The texture was light and airy, soft and spongy all at the same time. We stored them in the pan, and the seal wasn’t very tight, so they began to dry out by day three. Happily, the glaze kept them moist. 

Next time I would transfer them to an airtight container or my cake dome. 

Would I make these again? Heck yeah! But I would do it in one day and let rise until double in size or put into a ziplock bag overnight. I would also use this dough for dinner rolls or add different fillings like pumpkin and cinnamon, or lemon poppy seed. The possibilities are endless with this dough. 

This series taught me so much about baking that I thought I already knew. 

  1. Tools are important.
  2. Room temperature eggs are a game-changer
  3. Following directions exactly makes things taste better
  4. Not all recipes are created equal (I have tried different websites and not everyone tests or explains things well, so experiment!)

So…. How did I do? This is theirs:

This is mine:

I nailed it. Thanks Basically, I will miss your weekly challenges and feel a little lost about what to try next. I have a green onion cake I will share because that was insanely reminiscent of the Fringe Festival Green Onion Cake Man and Disney has dropped some of their theme park favs so maybe you will see Dole Whips and Churros in my future. Meanwhile, drop me a note and tell me what you’d like to see me try. 

Stay healthy friends!

Basically: Bars

I made it through another recipe with almost all the ingredients! I am enjoying this project so much, I can’t even!! Every Sunday morning another recipe pops up in my inbox and I read the entire recipe first. Then I read it again thinking about the ingredients. This week was Tahini Billionaire Bars. First off, Tahini is a weird ingredient for me. I have used it in hummus but that is about it. It isn’t sweet so using it would tone down the sweetness in the butterscotch. Apparently, you can use any nut butter as long as it is unsweetened. Fair enough. After tasting this, I would substitute peanut butter but this is really good as is, just super sweet. Cut the bars smaller than they call for because it was just too much sugar. It tastes like you can eat the whole piece but then it gets to be too much and you lose interest about halfway. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not. I will let you decide.

The first step was making the shortbread. I didn’t have sesame seeds so I made it without. I have to confess, this layer was an ORDEAL. The dough kept sticking to my hands as I pressed it into the sides, it became too soft. I suppose I could have stuck it into the freezer to chill it but it was a Tuesday night and I didn’t want to be at this for hours. So I swore and smooshed. The recommendation was for a 9 x 9 pan but spreading was thin, the corner was overdone. You can’t tell with the other layers tho and my family eats anything.

The second layer was problematic too. I started it WAY BEFORE the bottom layer was cool and out of the oven. HA, so much for reading the instructions twice. I have made butterscotch before so I dived in with a lot of arrogance. (The difference between butterscotch and caramel is brown versus white sugar – the more you know!)

The butterscotch was perfect, I could have added all the cream from the one cup container, it could have taken it. Now I have a 1/4 cup of cream in my fridge and keep forgetting to use it in my coffee. I let the caramel cool slightly while I waited for the shortbread to come out of the over, reversed I know but too bad, so sad.

I added the butterscotch and put the two layers in the fridge for an hour. Too hot, I know but whatEVER, stop judging.

After an hour, everything was firm and cool to the touch. I kept it in the fridge while I melted the chocolate. I didn’t have the fancy bittersweet 60% blablabla… WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! So I used my standard chocolate chip use in cookies chocolate. It was fine. Good enough for snacks, good enough for this. Back into the fridge for 30 minutes and then I cut into them. That was the hard part (Other than the crust layer) These suckers need a firm hand and a sharp knife. Use a serrated knife and saw. I didn’t. I cut, I didn’t crush it like they said it would happen, but I didn’t use boujee chocolate so maybe that was the difference. I cut this into 16 squares, then after tasting, I cut into 32 rectangles. Trust me. I also didn’t sprinkle sesame seeds all over the top because WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! And I didn’t want to go to the bulk barn for just that. Hopefully, I have the stuff for the next recipe, I heard a rumour it has carrots and carrot juice. Where the heck will I find carrot juice??? Wish me luck. Meanwhile, I nailed it this week in spite of the problems. Judge for yourself and imagine tiny little sesame seeds all over the top.

Theirs vs Mine

They taste as good as they look. What are you making this week?

Basically: Biscuits

I think this may be my last week to bake something new from a recipe for a while. I couldn’t get all the ingredients for this week’s Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits. I had a 3/4 of a cup of greek yogurt. I needed 1 and 1/4 cups of sour cream. There wasn’t any at the store, nor was there plain yogurt. I did have milk and vinegar, so my plan was to supplement fake buttermilk. Molly Baz, the recipe creator did a few instagram stories talking about substitutions. Past experience told me I could use milk or yogurt, but there was a tang to sour cream that seemed important to this recipe, so I added a tablespoon of vinegar to 3/4 cup of milk. I ended up with slightly more dairy than the recipe called for but I did that because milk is obviously looser than yogurt.

I followed the rest of the recipe except I didn’t have 8 scallions, only 5. Life in the time of rations. This was fine, and maybe the next time I make this I will still use 5 scallions because it was more than enough. The batter came together very nicely. Using a light hand to not over beat makes a massive difference.

Everything came together quickly and I turned it out onto a cutting board for easy clean up. The next step was to fold or laminate into thirds using a bench scraper. I don’t have one. I thought about buy one because I have want one for a very long time. All things considering, it didn’t seem to be the time to spend needlessly on tools that could be substituted. So I used the back of my chefs knife. It works fine. The dough is sticky so flour up your hands and work quickly.

I also don’t have a kitchen ruler, but back in my quilting days, I measured different parts of my hand so I could do quick measurements in a store when buying fabric. I know from my thumb knuckle to the tip is one inch. The span of my hand from pinky to thumb when fully stretched is 8 inches. This recipe needed the dough to be 8″ x 4″ I was all over that. I folded three times. Then I cut it into eight pieces.

By leaving them squarish and not round, there are no scraps to rework and the less you work the dough, the less gluten you create therefore leaving everything tender. I used the knife to cut them away from the board, I should have lightly floured the surface but didn’t and it was still fine. You were supposed to use parchment because it prevents spreading but in the instagram story, Molly Baz used a silpat liner, so I used mine. I don’t like using single use things very often.

I basted them with melted butter and sprinkle a bit of sea salt over the top. I would skip the salt. It isn’t a secret that Molly Baz likes salt. These don’t need the extra. Plus Who can get flaky salt in Edmonton? Seriously – if you can, tell me where.

I put them in the oven for 22 minutes, I could smell them at 20 minutes and took them out. It was on the cusp of over browning. They were perfect at 20 minutes. Watch your closely. The recipe said between 18 – 22 minutes.

You can tell where I dripped butter. These things are the flakiest most tender biscuits I have ever had. The flavour reminds me of sour cream and onion chips. Happily I love those. The flavour is strong and fantastic. I will always make these agin once the stores get back to normal stock levels.

This is what Basically’s look like versus mine. In spite of the substitutions, I think I nailed it.

Basically: Brownies

Brownies are, without a doubt, my dad’s favourite chocolate treat. I didn’t share these with him. I will likely make him his own pan for Father’s Day or his birthday because these didn’t last long in my house.

The half-way recipe for Basically is Camouflage Chocolate Fudge Brownies. These are rich and fudgy and cheese cakey and easy. They are rated as a level two Basically recipe but that is because of the number of steps. More doesn’t mean hard.

I needed a win this week because the shortbread from last week was a fail. It tasted good, but the method and ugliness made it a flop.

I have entered into a habit of opening my email Sunday morning in bed to read Basically. I read through the recipe twice because squinty sleepy eyes miss stuff. I had everything but the cream cheese. I miss those carefree days of having everything I need in the pantry. I went to the store early and bought cream cheese, some bread, things for lunches…because as soon as you say “I am going to Sobeys”, the entire house wakes up as yells, “CAN YOU PICK UP SOME….” So much for a quick trip.

I got home, made lunch, cleaned the kitchen THEN I began at about 3:00 p.m. Sheesh…

I prepped the pan, then added cream cheese to the double boiler to soften. It didn’t soften well. I have better luck in the microwave, but the rule was to follow the instructions EXACTLY to see what new insights I learn. I learned that cream cheese softens better in the microwave about 25 seconds at a time.

I whisked together all the ingredients and divided it into two bowls, one plain and one with cocoa powder. This tasted just like cheesecake. That is a win! I love cheesecake but never have it.

The next part was weird. 10 Tablespoons of butter. Why can’t we just do grams or one half cup + (whatever the measurement is?). The other tricky part is butter comes in 454 gram bricks here, not sticks. WTF(udge) is a stick? Glad you asked, I asked Google.

Butter Measurements When looking at a standard stick of butter1 stick or 1/2 cup butter is equal to 4 ounces, or 113 grams.

Basically (see what I did there?) one pound of butter is 454 grams. How do you measure out 10 tablespoons? I also asked Google.

5/8 cup butter141.8 gram10 tbsp
Crimeny crickets. That is not easy so I pulled out my scale and weighed out 141.8 grams of butter. Into the double boiler that went.

The strange part was all the ingredients went in. I didn’t melt the butter first. I think it would have been easier to do it that way. But I followed the instructions and poured the sugar, cocoa, coffee and salt into the double boiler, stirred it up and it became awful then glossy, just like it said it would. Then I stuck my (CLEAN) finger in it to see if it would scaled it – still part of the directions. (Honestly, I learned this step from my mom. Stick you pinky in there to see if it’s hot enough, especially for tomato soup – weird tangent but here we are) Second time the charm and it was too hot, just like the recipe called for.

I added the chilled eggs and flour – this was stiff but came together lovely. I scooped out 1/2 of batter, forgot to leave it in a warm spot by the stove… Poured the rest into the prepared pan.

It was thick. I smoothed it out into the corners with my offset spatula. Then I dollopped the other two cream cheese mixtures on top in a random pattern. Finally adding the reserve brownie mixture which was stiff and cold by this time making the process laborious. But it worked out.

I baked it or 25 minutes in a preheated 325F oven. It was floppy but set. Do not expect it to be like cake, its not. It is more like fudge. The chocolate filled the house and it smelled so good! I let it set and cut it into 16 pieces. After tasting one later when it cooled I realised my error and should have cut it into one piece. One is all you need. But I shared it out and it lasted until Wednesday. Damn….it was really good.

This is Basically’s and the other is mine. I think it was a complete success!

Next week is Sour cream and onion biscuits. Oh…yeah….

Basically: Cookies

The Basically Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookie test went off without a hitch and boy, did I learn a few things. I am a decent baker and my family loves what I make. I (humbly) brag that baking is my superpower. But wow… way to make me feel like I am a rookie Basically… Let me tell you what happened.

But first, you can find this week’s recipe here.

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The very first thing the instructions say is to read through the recipe so there are no surprises. I learned that from my mom when I was 10 and starting out as a rookie. It is super important in this recipe because you need to chill the cookie dough for two hours. This isn’t a quickie.

The second thing I did wasn’t in the recipe but I have watched enough Bon Appétit to know that room temperature eggs are important. I have never ever EVER used room temp eggs until this recipe. I put 3 eggs in a bowl and covered them in hot tap water while I melted the butter. It took about 5 minutes. While it was melting, not browning, I weighed my flour.

I had a scale that I received as a gift from my ex. To weigh my food. This was the beginning of my eating disorder. I have used the scale for cooking but I know the scale was a cheap thing and worked well enough for Weight Watchers but it isn’t precise. I bought the scale the BA test kitchen recommended on Amazon and it arrived two days later in a snow storm. I also purchased an oven thermometer. This was eye-opening as well, but I will get to that later.

Where were we? Right, the scale. It has a tare feature which is essential. I put the bowl on the scale, set the tare (which means it cancels out the weight of the bowl and the other ingredients so you can precisely measure the next ingredient), filled and levelled 1 cup of flour like Martha Stewart taught me. I needed 125g of flour. My one-cup measure was 150g.  25g MORE THAN I NEEDED. Ohhhkaaay… scooped out the extra flour. until it read 125g. Set the tare and added the buckwheat flour along with the rest of the dry ingredients. Set this aside.

Normally I would mix the wet ingredients and then sift the dry overtop. But I followed the instructions exactly as written. That meant separate bowls for everything. I put a new clean bowl on the scale, tossed in my melted butter. set the tare, added the sugars and whisked. This was also new for me. I would normally pull out the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and over beat until light and fluffy. The instructions called for 30 seconds of whisking. I set the timer and began. at the 15 sec mark, I thought I was done. but the timer said otherwise, so I kept going. It made a huge difference. It went from combined to glossy. This is the point where I thought I had whisked enough – nope.

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I added one egg and mixed until combined, then added the yolks one at a time.

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Here is what I learned about room temperature eggs.

  1. They are easier to separate, the white breaks free almost instantly.
  2. They break up like a dream.
  3. They combine almost instantly without the extra fuss of smashing the yolk to break the membrane.

Room temperature eggs make a huge difference!

Then I folded in the flour and gently combined to minimize gluten production. The batter felt light and delicate, never have I ever had delicate cookie batter. I folded in the coarsely chopped chocolate (I never would have bought good bittersweet chocolate before either. WOW is the only adjective that fits.)

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The batter is still wet at this point but is said to chill for two hours. I put a plate over the top of the bowl (please stop using single-use plastic) and popped it into the fridge.

Two hours later…

I hung the oven thermometer in my oven and preheated it 350F. When the oven reached the temperature I checked the thermometer.

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Ummmm yikes. I did some more reading and the thermometer recommended I wait for two cycles of the oven before checking again. My oven clicks as the elements turn on and off. I waited…

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Hoorah! I don’t know what I would have done if it didn’t work. Notice the elements are off and not red.

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I rolled the cookies as directed and added bonus chocolate to the cookie balls.  I didn’t use parchment because I am trying to reduce my use of single-use items. I put two sheets into the oven as directed and set the timer for 4 minutes. After four minutes passed, I switched the racks in the oven and checked the thermometer. Leaving the door open for a few short seconds dropped the temperature back down to 300F! Did everyone but me know oven temperatures were fickle? I pulled the cookies out at the 4-minute mark and decided they needed two more minutes because they were still wet looking.

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This was the point where you were supposed to sprinkle more salt. My kosher salt is not delicate nor do I have flaky salt. I live in Canada and don’t have the same brands the BA test kitchen suggested, Morton’s or Diamond salt, my salt would have been chunky so I omitted the extra salt. Good thing too. These cookies had enough salt/sweet contrast for me.

I had enough batter for two more cookies. So this time I baked them for eight minutes without opening the oven to achieve the soft chewie cookie. It worked! The cookie was much lighter in colour with two minutes less.

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But look at the oven temperature!

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When I bake my cookies I place one tray in at a time and keep the oven closed at all times. My first tray is 10 minutes, then I reduce the time, the last tray is 7 minutes. So I instinctively knew my oven was not consistent. It is 20 years old. After I replace my roof shingles, I think this is the next new purchase.

I learned so many new things! Not all sugar is created equal unlike what Chef Michael Smith said. Dark brown sugar will react differently to baking soda than light brown sugar. Plus it has a deeper molasses flavour. If that is what you want, do it! But the science of the dry ingredients changes, so be aware. Room temperature eggs are where it’s at and give your oven lots of time to preheat.

To recap, these are mine on the left and Basically on the right. The buckwheat gives an earthy nutty quality that is fine but not my favourite. I love the bittersweet chocolate more than I thought I would and the sweet/salty ratio is delicious! Would I make these again? Absolutely. These are not a snack cookie, its a one and done for dessert kind of cookie and the recipe only makes one dozen.

 

 

The recipe teaser for next week looks like some sort of quick bread. Perhaps banana bread. I am here for it! Let me know if you made this and how it turned out fo you.

 

Basically

I am a rabid fan of the BA Test Kitchen. Chris Morocco and Carla Lally Music are, in my opinion, WIZARDS. They are magic and I basically worship them. The kitchen has a myriad of other chefs and I watch ALL of their segments each week, but I get super excited when Carla does back to back or they blindfold Morocco and he has to figure out just by taste and touch what the hell is in the recipe and recreated. That man is a SUPER TASTER. I follow all of them individually on Instagram and have chatted with Morocco on occasion (I squeal like a teenager when he replies to me) I am a super fan.

I learned a lot about cooking from my mom and baking from my aunty Mary Poppins (not her real name but her cookies were the best thing EVER). When I had a young family, I learned the science of why things are done a certain way from Martha Stewart. Humblebrag – baking is my superpower. Pies and cookies and my strength. I understand the science and I have a feel for it. I also love to bake. It is fun, relaxing and very satisfying.

Last week Basically ( a section on Bon Appetite magazine that basically teaches new cooks how to do it) announced they are doing a 10-week baking series.

Excuse me?

Ten weeks/Ten recipes of basic baking recipes to teach someone how to do it plus start out easy and work your way to something complicated.

This intrigued me.

Bon Appétit usually cooks and bakes with ingredients that I don’t tend to have on hand in my pantry. Sometimes I will go and gather ingredients to give the recipe a try. I am never disappointed. I decided I wanted to try this baking series and see what I can learn and how complicated do they make things. For example, am I going to have to dirty every single bowl in the house to make a cake? Are there tools I don’t have that they recommend? Like yes to all the questions I have. I am not so sure following their instructions – even if there are videos – is going to be a snap. But I am willing to try because I think it will be fun plus I need to try new foods, stuff that is healthier with less sugar etc. I have decided to take you along with me for the ride.

Today (Sunday, February 9, 2020) Basically dropped the first recipe. Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It told me a needed a few tools that I didn’t have. I decided to buy a new scale (mine has been brought to the mudroom to weigh out Captian’s food), and an oven thermometer. My oven is 20 years old and this past holiday season was a struggle to get the cookies right – I knew I needed a thermometer. I suspect 350 is actually 325 and that just won’t do. I am heading to the Bulk Barn to buy buckwheat flour – definitely an ingredient I don’t have. I am also going to look at their kosher slat. Mine is course – I will see if there is finer salt or maybe flaky salt for the cookie tops post-bake. I have everything else.

When Basically announced this series was coming, they gave a few other recipes to try to tie over my excitement. It’s like they knew me. I landed on Lemon Pound Cake to test to see if I might find this a fun project.

I followed the instructions exactly.

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I brought my butter to room temperature by putting it under a warm bowl.

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I zested the lemons without getting any pith in the bowl.

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I used a HAND MIXER – this I didn’t love. I prefer my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. The motor is going on my hand mixer so it may die before the series is over.

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Mine

I made the glaze even though I normally wouldn’t have. I did everything the way they told me to and I think I recreated the cake perfectly.

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Basically’s

My peeler needs to be replaced, it wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be but seriously – they look pretty close to identical.

My family ate two pieces each – so it passed the taste test.

Catch up with me next Sunday to see how the cookies went. If you are doing this with me – comment below or over on Facebook. We can talk about problems and successes.

WE CAN DO THIS!

Peanut Butter

Who was the person that taught you to bake? I had many teachers. Mostly my mom was my teacher. Sundays were spent in a high volume extreme bake-off. We would make a list the previous week and then shop for all the ingredients. The list would include dinners for weeknights and several batches of tarts and cookies. You could easily find 20 things in the freezer before nightfall. Organization skills were my mom’s superpower. I take after her. I can knock off 150 cookies 4 dozen tarts and a pot of soup before noon.  Well, that was today. I drove home from a Red Deer work thing, called my mom and rolled up my sleeves to power bake. I was done by 1:00 pm and started at 11:00 am. 

Fast paced was not something that described my grandmother. She was slow and methodical. She did one thing at a time. Multi-tasking was not something she was interested in. Where my mom taught me how to knock off a lot of things to save time in the future, my grandmother taught me about relaxing as you do one thing. Both methods have a place in my life. I have to admit to following my mom’s method at work and at home the most. But every now and then a slowed relaxed baking session is delightful. 

My grandma made little step stools from mandarin orange boxes that were available at Christmas. We used them for sitting in front of the TV, standing to reach things in the pantry but I used it to raise me up at the counter so I could ‘help’ bake. 

My mom let me use tools like beaters, crack eggs and measure milk. Grandma never let me do those things, but she did let me watch. Mom let me lick the beaters or sample the batter. Grandma didn’t but I stole batter when she wasn’t looking. Mom let me open the oven door so she could put trays of cookies in the oven. Grandma made me stand back far from the hot oven. The experiences were polar opposite but there was one thing grandma let me do and that was to press cookies. 

Very carefully she rolled out peanut butter cookies on a baking sheet. they were all the exact same size and evenly spaced. It always looked as if she used a ruler to measure the distance for consistency. Once all the round balls were on the sheet, it was my turn. She had a set of glasses that my aunt thinks were duralux. Small juice glasses with a starburst pattern on the bottom. It was my job to dip the glass in flour and press the cookies evenly – not too hard and not too soft. When I made these cookies with my little gram, we used a fork dipped in flour. I pressed the fork into the dough, dip in flour and press again in a cross fashion. This was more fun than eating the cookies. I have been searching ebay and vintage glass sites forever trying to find that particular pattern. My aunt told me they shattered easily so maybe there are none left in existence? At any rate, in my mind’s eye, all peanut butter cookies ever made have that pattern.  I made some today using grandma’s recipe. Because I love you, I am sharing the recipe – and all the variations with you. This isn’t the Kraft Peanut Butter recipe that uses egg, sugar and peanut butter. My recipe has flour to make it a proper cookie with a subtle flavour of peanut butter because let’s get serious, too much peanut butter is too much is too much peanut butter and who needs that? 

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup salted butter (does anyone use unsalted?)
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth because my son always thought the crunchy part was bees – save the bees people!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar – I use dark, not golden. 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together in a bowl; beat in eggs. (I use a mixer to get the right texture. Mix until it looks fluffy and is lighter in colour than when you started. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture. Put dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (I sift directly into the butter mixture. I don’t usually refrigerate unless the dough is too soft and I can’t roll into a ball,)
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. (I use an ice cream scoop and don’t roll) Flatten each ball with a fork (dipped in flour to prevent sticking), making a crisscross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. (Forget the brown part – 10 minutes or until you can smell them.) One sheet at a time please!

This recipe makes 110 cookies. So I like to mix it up. The first tray of 35 is traditional with fork pressed method. The second tray I roll the balls in sugar then flatten with a flat-bottomed mug or cup. The third tray I add chocolate chips and drop without flattening. 

Pirate Cookies were a favourite of mine, to recreate those, mix 1/2 cup peanut butter and 2 cups icing sugar for a buttercream frosting and thin as needed with milk. Sandwich the cookies with the frosting in the middle. So sweet but extra decadent. Serve with milk and a splash of tea unless you are an adult, then its tea with a splash of milk. 

No gifts for you

Last week I talked about the shift and how I have changed because of my meditation practice. Something else has happened too. My need or desire for things has vanished. I lived a long time wanting things or needing money so I could acquire things. Part of that was being married to someone who controlled all the money that came and went from the bank account. I never had money and I never was allowed to spend it. I was dressed pretty much in rags and my mom took pity on me. She would buy me new clothes. I had to lie about them. If he wasn’t letting me buy clothes, no one else could either. It was just a long line of experiences I went through. In my new life when I had money, I wanted to buy things I never had before. I bought jewelry I liked, not jewelry that I was told to like or should like or was even allowed to have, I bought Tiffany. Eventually, money was spent on experiences. I travelled more and bought less crap. Now I hardly buy anything. My dishwasher burst into flames in the spring and I still haven’t replaced it. It doesn’t matter to me.

My point is, I feel different. I don’t want things. I just get what I need. I was told this would happen when you practiced meditation regularly. So now I know.

I also don’t want to buy things for other people. We aren’t exchanging Christmas gifts this year. I don’t want anyone to buy me anything because this feels different.

But…

I like doing things for people and will do that as gifts. My friend’s birthday is coming up and we were chatting about their new goal of cooking more and eating out less. So they were making an effort to learn to cook. Their favourite cookie is chocolate chip, so I was inspired to build a cookie kit with my tried and true cookie recipe and mail it to them.

I filled a cookie jar with 3 bags of premeasured ingredients ( flour mixture, sugar mixture and chocolate chips) and a small container of pure vanilla. I added a whisk and small spatula in case they didn’t have one. All they needed was a cookie sheet, butter and eggs.

From the photos they sent, it seems they turned out great. They had never made cookies from scratch and it was so much easier than they thought it would be. Now I think they will bake more often. Since I shared my recipe with them, I thought I would share it with you because Sharing is Caring.

This is a variation of the Nestle Toll House Cookie. I changed it to reflect the texture I like. It took me a year of experimenting with the ingredients but I settled on this one. It is my son’s favourite cookie of all time. Baking for him makes me happy. Mostly because he walks into the kitchen, sees the cookies and says “oooooooooooooooh” and immediately steals cookie dough and a baked cookie.

Edmonton Tourist’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature and salted, not that unsalted stuff. The flavour of the salt contrasts with the sweet and makes it AMAZING
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar – dark brown gives a deeper flavour but light brown will work!
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of PURE vanilla extract ( the Barefoot Contessa is correct –  use the good stuff. The best you can buy or make your own using vodka and vanilla bean.)
  • large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet but go to town on your favourite – broken chocolate bars are great too)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift or whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl ( I sift over the sugar mixture and only use one bowl) beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

(I use a cookie scoop that measures 1 tablespoon and parchment paper.)

BAKE 375° F a for 9 to 11 minutes (9 minutes for a soft chewie cookie, 11 minutes for a crisper texture I always bake for 9 minutes). Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes ( this is important! Leave the cookie too long on the hot sheet and it overcooks); remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Pro-Tip: Freeze dough in tablespoon portions and bake one or two for freshly baked cookies whenever you want them. My kids eat the cookie dough before they get into the oven so this is a wasted step for me. I will freeze baked cookies but they also go missing when I look for them.

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These don’t double well but they go great with milk. Best gift ever.