Monday, February 16, 2009

Brown Sugar Cookies

I am watching the Seattle public network television channel previously recorded on the DVR. Cooks Illustrated does a cooking show on Saturdays called America's Test Kitchen, I believe. The Food Network show seems to be losing so much naturalness. The original show portrayed chefs doing real cooking and watching the different techniques is what created the food experience for me. I learned while I watched "and" I could (still can) go to the Food Network website to find the recipe. Chefs like Gale Gand, the original Emeril Lagasse shows, the original Bobby Flay, the people that brought the cooking channel together made the shows addictive. Now, I feel like I am watching just another channel where the producers are trying to hard. Some of the chefs are still real but I get tired of the reality show programs. Public television keeps the cooking shows real and something that can intrigue me.

I am watching a brown roll of cookie dough being emersed in lump free brown sugar. The coating is solid and thick while the chef is explaining how the cookie will carry a carmel, brown sugar flavor with a crisp and chewy texture. I am definitely intrigued. One of my favorite flavors that makes staying true to not munching more then 2 cookies in a day "not" reality is a really good, homemade caramel. Add caramel goodness to a cookie form and I am in heaven. Small desserts easy to grab.

The directions say "not" to use a mixer for the ingredients but to use a large spatula and hand mix the flour into the dough without over-doing the process. If a person uses a mixer, the consistancy of the cookie will be altered. We can not have an altered consistency and why not make a cookie the way my Grandma use to?

I pull the ingredients out and start mad clicking with the camera, trying to get the right angles in a hurry. The problem is I always find a better shot the second or third try. I dread having an over abundance of pictures to sift through later on. The butter browns nicely after melting and I am clicking some more. Flour goes all over and now I have flour on the camera. . .not lovely. The dough goes together perfect and I am rolling little golf ball size dough balls in brown sugar when I realize I need more pictures. I am in a hurry - never good - and grab the camera without wiping my hands. Hubby is close by and has a major eye twitch. My Canon Rebel XT has a dusting of flour, a little dark brown sugar, and a minimal amount of cookie dough on the clicker. I have now been banned from the camera while he wisks the Canon into the living room, grumbling under his breath - but not to loudly because he likes cookies too. =)
NOTE: The cookies are delicious and a mainstay for my kitchen!
Brown Sugar Cookies
The most efficient way to bake these cookies is to portion and bake half of the dough. While the first batch is in the oven, the remaining dough can be prepared for baking. Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter. The dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is sufficiently browned. Use fresh brown sugar, as older (read: harder and drier) brown sugar will make the cookies too dry.
(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated March 2007 issue)

14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (about 1 3/4 ounces)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)

5. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone; see photo below), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.

6. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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