Thursday, October 2, 2008

Operation Baking Gals: Round Three

Whew! I barely made the deadline to join bakers from around the country (maybe world) in thanking soldiers who are serving our country so selflessly and bravely. What better way to thank them than with a box plumb full of cookies!

Operation Baking Gals was started in July by Susan of She's Becoming DoughMESStic. It was a small group of bakers that first month, but the baking-gal ranks have grown to over 700 in three months! Holy Toledo, thatsalotta baked goods flying out of the US Postal Service's hands!

If you'd like to join up, head on over to Operation Baking Gals. Don't worry, it's easy. Susan has all of the important information regarding "what, where, when, and how" on the site.

I sent three types of cookies. Nothing fancy, but some old favorites.

There were chocolate chip cookies...


and sugar cookies, a bite-size version. (OK, this is how persnickety I am. I hated that they weren't color coordinated! What was I thinking, using Halloween sprinkles on one set and turquoise-y sanding sugar on another?!!? Well, the US militry can rest assured that there will be no color mixing snafu's the next time!)

May I say, to each and every soldier out there, and families of soldiers out there, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Words can't express my gratitude for what you do each and every day so that the rest of us can go on our merry way, worrying about unimportant things like what color of sprinkles to use on our cookies. As you eat cookies and baked goods from the Operation Baking Gals, know that they were made with thoughts and prayers for your safety and well-being.

one-pot chocolate chip cookies

I tried this recipe for the first time and it met all of my criteria for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. These cookies stay soft, don't flatten out in the oven, and they taste fantastic. As an added bonus, the recipe uses melted butter, so no waiting around for the butter to soften.

(Recipe reprinted with permission from The Weekend Baker (newly in paperback) by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Be sure to check out Abby's website!

8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup (113 grams) firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (71 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (57 grams) coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), optional

1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners (I like Silpat).
2. Put the butter in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Slide the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk until no lumps remain. Set aside to let cool, about 5 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until well blended. Once the butter mixture has cooled, add the egg and vanilla and whisk until blended. Pour in the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and the nuts, if using.
4. Using a small ice-cream scoop (about 1 2/3 inches (4.25 cm) in diameter) or tablespoons, drop scant 2-tablespoon mounds of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, arranging them about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) apart. (At this point, the loaded cookie sheets can be slipped into the freezer until the cookies are frozen, about 1 hour. Then transfer the cookies to heavy-duty freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, remove from the freezer, arrange on lined cookie sheets, and leave on the counter to thaw slightly while the oven heats.)
5. Bake 1 sheet at a time (make sure to use a cooled sheet for the second batch) until the cookies are light golden around the edges and puffed, about 12 minutes. If these cookies are over-baked, they won’t come out chewy. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.
Storage: Layer the baked and cooled cookies between parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You don’t even need to thaw them completely. They’re just as delicious cold.

Big Cookie Variation: Scoop up 1/4-cup portions of this cookie dough, arrange them about 3 inches (7.75 cm) apart on the prepared cookie sheets, and flatten the mounds slightly with lightly floured fingertips. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are light golden around the edges and puffed, about 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool as directed for the regular-sized cookies. Makes 10 cookies.


I got this recipe from the girlfriend of one of my classmates in college. This classmate and I were on a project team together and his girlfriend always sent the best cookies along with him to our project team get-togethers. Here's to college girlfriends everywhere!

3-3/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. butter, room temperature
2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1/4 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Either grease a cookie sheet, or line one with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

Beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add 2 C. sugar and beat until fluffy and lightened in color. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls in sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. If you like them soft, take them out earlier... they go from soft to crunchy quickly.

Sugar Cookies

This is my go-to sugar cookie recipe that I got from a friend and cookie-decorator extraordinaire. These cookies are soft and cakey with just a hint of salt. This recipe is perfect for cut-out cookies and can also be used for candy cane cookies at Christmas (color half of the dough red, roll pieces into ropes, then twist and bake), or as in this case, rolled into scant 1-inch balls and baked.

1 C. sugar
1 C. salted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 to 3 C self-rising flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add 2-1/2 C. flour. If dough is sticky to the touch keep adding flour until no longer sticky. I typically use about 2-3/4 cups flour.

Dough does not need to be chilled, but can be. If the kitchen is warm, I will chill my pan of cut out cookie shapes before baking to keep them from spreading in the oven.

For cut out cookies, roll to desired thickness, cut shapes with cookie cutters and lay on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-9 minutes. I like them just set with no brown edges. Watch the tops while baking, when they longer have a sheen, they're done. For balls, bake about 6-8 minutes... same thing, watch the tops for the sheen. When it's gone, they're done.

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