Sunday, December 9, 2012

Baking Cookies to Relax

Ugh.  Well today has not been the greatest day.  Dad is in the hospital with some sort of infection going on, and I got the job of staying home to keep the hounds from going crazy, and to make sure there is at least one family member who can sleep tonight and thus be in charge tomorrow.  So here I am, home alone and stressed, so I figured I might as well bake some cookies to try to take my mind of everything and relax.

I first did a recipe that was in my Food Network Magazine as one of their 25 Days of Cookies.  They are called oatmeal lace cookies, and in the pictures they really do look like lace with a light chocolate drizzle on top.  They don't have many ingredients: basically you melt butter and sugar together, then add oats, flour, a little salt, and egg whites.  You mush it on to parchment paper and spread it into a 3-inch circle.  In hindsight, I would recommend making the circles smaller.  The cookies end up really large (they are bigger than my hand!), and you only get 12 of them.  But just be prepared that they spread out a lot in the pan.  Anyway, they do form big lacy cookies that you then drizzle with melted chocolate.  I tried one, and they are really good.  Very buttery and sweet and delicate.  Too bad we are down to 11.

When the oatmean laces were done so quickly, I decided to make something else.  I ventured into Mom and Dad's orange recipe folders.  I found a cookie recipe that sounded great chocolate-sesame cookies.  They look similar to chocolate crinkles, but they are rolled in sesame seeds.  Plus they have tahini in them, which intrigued me since I love tahini in hummus but have never seen it in cookies.  The chocolate part of the cookie is melted semi-sweet chocolate mixed with butter and tahini (which is sesame paste, FYI).  Then separately, you mix the dry ingredients, and the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Then all three mixtures get combined, and the dough needs to be chilled.  I recommend freezing the dough, because it is a very soft, melty dough, probably because of the semisweet chocolate.  So you need it extra cold.  Then you roll the dough balls in sesame seeds.  I toasted a big batch of the seeds, but then needed more, so I just used them untoasted and they came out just fine.  I have eaten two of these already and I can already tell that people are really going to love them.  They are chocolately but at the same time have that soft sesame taste, from the tahini and the seeds on the outside.  Mom is going to be in for a treat after a very long night in the ER.  Fingers crossed that a bed opens up in the ICU soon :(


oatmeal lace cookies
from the December 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine

1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon beaten egg white (same as 1 egg white)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1)  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Melt the butter with sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens and the sugar is almost dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oats, flour, vanilla and salt.  Let cool 10 minutes, then stir in the egg white.

3)  Drop 6 rounded tablespoons of batter onto each prepared baking sheet, about 3 1/2 inches apart.  Spread each mound into a 3-inch circle.  Bake, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheets until firm, aboout 3 minutes.  Then use a thin metal spatula and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

4)  Put the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted.  Drizzle on the cookies and let set, about 30 minutes.

chocolate-sesame cookies
from the October 2011 issue of  Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

8 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons tahini
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted

1) In small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth.  Remove from heat; stir in tahini.  Set aside.

2) In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Add brown sugar and vanilla; beat until well-combined.  Beat in chocolate mixture. Beat in flour mixture just until combined.  Cover; chill dough about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sesame seeds to coat.  Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

4)  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and set on the bottoms.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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