cookie time: butter cookies

I’m working my way through the multitude of cook books I received as gifts last December, and I’m dipping into Shirley O. Corriher’s Bakewise.  It’s a lighthearted volume that seeks, thankfully, to explain some of the ‘underlying’ dynamics behind baking.  I almost wish it was more scientific, actually, but it is very helpful to know why something comes out the way it does.  Eventually, I will study this book and make a real cake.  But I decided to start with some butter cookies, with jelly in the center.  They are technically called “buttery jelly-jeweled cookies.”

Buttery Jelly-Jeweled Cookies

Ingredient Weight (grams) Volume
Butter 227 1 CUP
Sugar 99 1/2 CUP
Salt 3 1/2 TSP
Almond Extract 1 1/4 TSP
Egg Yolks 37 2 yolks
AP Flour 281 2.25 CUPS
Jam as needed 1/2 CUP (as needed)

1. Beat butter, sugar, salt, and almond extract until light and creamy.

I was using a hand mixer here.  The key is too keep going until it’s really fluffy.  Like so:

2. Add yolks one at a time

3. Slowly stir in flour, pausing to scrape down the bowl as you go.  At this point you are supposed to divide the dough in four pieces, but I think you can just divide it into two.  It will be a little sticky to work with (did you seek how much butter went into these?).  Roll them up in plastic wrap and try to form a log of 1.5″ in diameter, or so.

4. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least two hours.

Shirley, as I like to call her, says the following: “flavorwise, standing time is a gold mine, allowing the dough’s flavors to meld.”  Then again, it is at points like these that I would prefer the book to be more scientific.  What does it mean for flavors to meld?  Why do they meld over time?  Anyway, more practically, you have to cool them before you can cut them cleanly.

5.  Preheat oven 375 and wait thirty minutes.

This is because oven temperatures will go above and below the desired temperature but over time slowly converge at a single point.  If you are putting something in the oven for several hours this might not matter, but for sensitive 14 minute cookies, I suppose it does.  See how much we’re learning!  And all this time I thought my oven was not calibrated correctly.

6. Take dough log and cut into 3/8 inch slices.  Arrange cookies on a cookie sheet lined with greased parchment paper, and press and indentation in center of cookie with thumb.

Ok – this step caused some problems for me for a couple reasons.  One, because 3/8 of an inch is quite specific.  I got out my ruler and everything:

Oh do you think I’m being to precise?  Well, yes, I am, BECAUSE I’M MAKING COOKIES ASSHOLE.  This isn’t some stir fry.  This is for real. z.

…and, then two, because Shir-shir says to “immediately” press an indentation into the cookie, leading to the following problem:

You see how they are cracking in the middle?  Well that’s what happened.  So by the third batch, I decided to cut the slices while cold, put them on the sheet and then wait for the dough to warm up somewhat before indenting.  This worked much better.  In fact for the first batch, while you are waiting, you can go ahead and

7. Heat up jam in saucepan over medium heat for 3-4 min, then strain.

These cookies have jam in them, if you forgot.  I used boysenberry, because I happened to have some (in fact because I wanted to make these cookies, which are similar but more complicated).  Anyway, heat this jam, and then strain it through a fine mesh colander, until you have a liquid that looks awesome, like this:

Anyway by this point your cookies are soft-ish, make an indentation, and pour this into it.  The jam is the main source of sweetness for the cookie, so don’t be shy.  It hardens as it cooks anyway, so the indentation ends up being not even that important (because it’s not going to go running all over your cookie sheet).

8. Sprinkle the top of the cookies with some extra sugar.

Might as well.

9. Bake one sheet at a time (in the middle row) until just starting to brown (about 14 minutes).

Like, exactly 14 min.  It’s weird.  Take them out, let them cool for two minutes, then transfer to a rack.  I got 45 with this recipe.  They are fucking addictive.  I was going to offer you some but they are all gone now.

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