Weeknight Cream Biscuits

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An earlier incarnation of the dinner I made tonight. I really need to work on my picture-taking skills.

This blog is titled Ky Cooks, but let’s be honest– I’m way more of a baker than a cook.  I loathe “throw whatever you want into this [soup, casserole, etc]” recipes.  I have no idea what spices go with what flavors, and I suck at cooking meat (I would probably be 90% vegetarian if I didn’t live with J).  But baking…baking I can do.  I’m a rule follower, and there are lots of rules in baking.  You have to measure, mix, and combine just so.  The order of ingredients actually matters!  And there’s just something way more fulfilling about pulling off a complicated pastry recipe than managing to make a soup that doesn’t look like it has fetuses in it (BTW, that actually happened.  There were no fetuses harmed in the making of said chicken crock pot concoction, but the final product somehow looked like it had miniature fetal-shaped pieces of meat in it.  And yet it was one of the blandest things I’ve ever eaten.  THIS IS WHY I DON’T COOK.).

In summation, I like the intricacy of baking.  But sometimes you come home from work and you need something to go along with the dinner you’re making (meatless, of course…this if you’re interested) and you feel like bread, and you don’t want to wait hours for yeast to rise. Enter the cream biscuit.  The Kitchn may be telling a slight fib, because these take 15 minutes to bake, and so they are not, in fact, made in “less than 15 minutes.”  But they are definitely made in 20 minutes or less.  I’ve made these several times now, and they always turn out, no matter how frantically I’m running around the kitchen trying to get things done.  They’re also very versatile; they have a slightly sweet flavor that makes them perfect with a jam for breakfast, but they’re not too sweet to serve with dinner.

I make these biscuits as written, with one quirky change.  I never have parchment paper (and I call myself a baker!), but I do have nonstick muffin pans with square tins instead of round tins.  I just slice the kneaded dough into squares that fit into the tins and bake them in the muffin pan.  I don’t even grease the tins, and I’ve never had a problem with the dough sticking.  So, maybe best practice would be to use parchment paper….but I never have and they’ve turned out fine.

The Kitchn has ideas for modifications (cheddar cheese!  chives!) but so far I’ve just stuck to the original.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Tuesday Morning Baking Urge

Blueberry boredom busters

I woke up this morning and my kitchen was still a mess from last night’s blackened chick-noa disaster.  Failure begets laziness, what can I say?  So what’s my first thought?  LET’S BAKE SOME COOKIES!  Obviously.  What is my life?

Since I had fresh blueberries, these Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies were a must.  The thing I like about baking is that I almost always have everything on hand without having to run to the store.  Which is perfect when you wake up on a Tuesday morning with a baking urge.

Anyway, I followed the recipe pretty much as stated.  I ran out of light brown sugar and had to sub in dark brown sugar for about 1/8 a cup.  Today I wasn’t doing laundry so sitting the stick of butter on the deck to bring it to room temperature did the trick.  The recipe didn’t state to mix the dry ingredients first or to cream the butter before adding the sugar, but I did both of those things since almost all other cookies I’ve made recently have called for that.  Couldn’t hurt.  You have to refrigerate the dough for half an hour, which was the perfect amount of time to clean up my disastrous kitchen.  Also, the cleaning was the perfect activity to distract me from wanting to grab the dough and plop it in the oven ASAP.  Two birds, ya know?

As I’ve said before, I like my cookies a little underdone, so I usually go for the lower end of the baking time.  This time I went for 10 minutes.  The cookies were browning on the bottom, so I decided to pull them out to see if they were done.  They were not.

But they were still delicious!

Back into the oven they went…for a couple of minutes, then I gave in and took them out.  I left the next batch in the oven for around 13-14 minutes, which was much better.  Still soft and moist, but not oozing dough from the center.

I really like these cookies.  I’m not sure that J would, which is why they’re not part of the Summer Cookie Project.  The brown sugar flavor is subtle, letting the blueberries really shine.  These are perfect for a breakfast cookie.  If you were going to eat a cookie for breakfast…I mean, who does that?  Not me.  Me.  I ended up with 12 cookies total, which was the perfect amount.  I will try to save at least one cookie for J to try when he gets home on Friday.  But I’m not promising anything.

Work What Ya Got

Hello, my lovelies

Today’s Summer Cookie Project (SCP) cookies were a spur-of-the-moment baking endeavor.  After making raspberry waffles (with Bisquick, so although they were delicious, they don’t deserve a post) and laying around in my snuggie for a couple of hours, I decided to clean up the kitchen.  Then after cleaning up the kitchen, I decided to mess it up again.  Duh.

I didn’t really plan ahead any particular cookie to make, but I happened to have some mini chocolate chips in the freezer, so that heavily influenced my decision.  I ended up making the famous Milk and Cookies chocolate chip cookies from, you guessed it, the Milk and Cookies cookbook.  Buying that book was a wise investment.  I decided to halve the recipe since J and I don’t need 30 cookies every week.

Anyway, luckily I had everything on hand.  Only two problems:  the butter needed to be room temperature, and I somehow needed to convert a Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar into chocolate shavings/curls.  What to do, what to do.  I didn’t want to microwave the butter because then it would be too melted, and I didn’t want to use a knife to make the curls because I would inevitably chop my hand off.  The clear solution was to put the butter on top of the clothes dryer (which was on) and to use a vegetable peeler to make the chocolate curls.  While holding the chocolate with a paper towel so it didn’t turn into a melty mess.  Obviously.  This week’s SCP cookies brought to you by laundry and a vegetable peeler.  Awesome.

Both totally worked, and I was left with some pretty awesome chocolate chip cookies.  The chocolate curls melted throughout the cookies, like little delicious flecks of chocolate confetti.  I ended up cutting down on the baking time from 15 minutes to 13 minutes because the first batch came out a little crumbly.  I like my cookies a little underdone anyway (salmonella, shmalmonella).  Thirteen minutes ended up being perfect.  These are actually the only cookies I’ve ever had that taste better when they’ve had time to cool.  They were good right out of the oven, but the semisweet and dark chocolates meshed better once cooled.  After halving the recipe, I ended up with 15 cookies, which was perfect.  We ate three during the baking process, and I sent six off with J when he left for school, leaving me with six cookies for myself.  Of which I’ve already eaten two.  Let’s see how many more last through the night…

Butterscotch for the Win

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Half-eaten Scotchie

I like to think that this Summer Cookie Project (SCP) is an act of selflessness.  Not because I’m baking for J (because I like excuses to bake), but because I’ve been picking cookies with J’s taste in mind.  If it were up to me, I would have immediately baked something with as much peanut butter and as much chocolate as possible.  But I haven’t even touched a peanut butter recipe yet.  See?  Totally selfless : )

This monumental act of kindness is what led me to choose Scotchies as my first real cookie for the SCP.  J is a huge butterscotch fan, and his all-time favorite cookies (so far) are oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  A cookie that combines both butterscotch and oatmeal was the obvious choice.  Again, I turned to Milk and Cookies (mentioned in an earlier post) for the recipe.

I followed the recipe almost exactly, except that my bag of butterscotch chips was just shy of the two cups required.  Also, instead of stirring in the chips last, I added them in as I kneaded the dough.  I think either way would work, as this dough is less stiff than the sugar cookie dough.  Finally, after the first batch, I took a minute off of the baking time (14 minutes instead of 15) to make them a little chewier.

I have only three words:  Oh. My. Goodness.  I don’t even normally like butterscotch that much, but Scotchies are my new favorite cookie.  The cookies spread a bit, but to the amount that I would imagine they’re supposed to; they look like cookies you would get in a bakery.  And they are HUGE.  And they are chewy.  And they are delicious.  The perfect amount of butterscotch, combined with the oatmeal and a hint of cinnamon…these are to die for.  Even better, they go perfectly with coffee.  I could see myself eating these for breakfast (dangerous!).

J hasn’t tried these yet, but if he doesn’t like them, then, well, more for me!  Another win for Milk and Cookies.  These are going to be hard to top.

The Summer Cookie Project

I’m not very good at following through with projects.  I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.  When I was in elementary school, I started one of those embroidery samplers.  I got about halfway through before it got shoved into the back of my closet.  I think I found it about a year later and finally finished it.  And I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a mission to organize my closet/dresser/shoes and just ended up trying everything on and making a huge mess.  The organization eventually happened, though.  So maybe I’m just really slow at finishing projects.

Regardless, I like projects.  Especially ones that force me to cook (cough, this blog, cough).  Enter the Summer Cookie Project.  Since J will be at school this summer, I figured a nice thing to do would be to bake him cookies.  A lot of them.  Plus, I just bought that new recipe book I mentioned yesterday, and this will be a good way for me to try out a variety of recipes.  The plan is that every weekend I will bake a new batch of cookies (hopefully different ones each time).  Then J can take them to school if he wants (and he better– I don’t need a whole batch of cookies sitting around the house every week!).  And hopefully I’ll find some new favorite cookie recipes along the way!

A Cookie Request

Yum

A couple of weeks ago, I received a special request from J to make M&M cookies.  It just so happened that I had already ordered Milk and Cookies, which is a cookbook written by the pastry chef of the famous Milk and Cookies bakery in NYC.  It also just so happened that the book had a recipe for M&M cookies.  Score.

The neat thing about this cookbook is that the cookies are divided up by five different “base doughs.”  Then, you just tweak the recipes from there to make a variety of cookies.  The M&M cookies use the sugar cookie base dough.  The recipe was straight-forward, a lot like any other cookie recipe I’ve run across.  The unique thing is that you don’t mix the dough all the way; instead, you knead the dough in the final stage before adding any mix-ins (in this case, the M&Ms).

One thing is for sure, these cookies have A LOT of M&Ms.  In fact, I had several stray M&Ms after using up all the dough (that probably wouldn’t have happened if I had combined them better, but the book was adamant about not overworking the dough, so I erred on the side of caution).  I don’t think they were quite the M&M cookies of J’s dreams (“They’re not flat!,” he exclaimed when he saw them.), but they are very, very good.  The sugar cookie base is excellent, which is encouraging for future variations of that recipe.  The cookies are exceptionally soft for a sugar cookie, also a plus.  But a word of waring:  these are decadent.  I can usually eat an unlimited amount of chocolate chip cookies, but halfway through my third cookie of these I was done.  But hey, maybe that means I can exact some self control.

Maybe.

Late-night Baking Adventures

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Muffins fresh out of the oven!

Ah, finally a baking post!  This, my friends, is my forte.  Or more honestly, just where my interest lies.  Once again, I’m making baked goods for work, this time for an end of the year breakfast.  I didn’t actually sign up to bring anything (whoops), so I last minute decided to bake muffins (hence, the title…I didn’t start until after 10 pm).  I picked these raspberry and jam muffins since I had almost everything on hand, and they seemed pretty simple.

The recipe is straightforward, and it’s easy to assemble the dry ingredients while the butter is melting on the stove. The muffins turned out great.  Not too sweet, with a hint of tart from the fresh raspberry.  The only thing that really didn’t work out for me was the crumb topping– it just didn’t clump up like I expected it to.  So I only put a scant sprinkling on the muffins instead of piling it on like the picture.  I think the topping would really take it to the next level, so I will be adding more next time, regardless of consistency.  I might also up the amount of jam.  Either way, these are a great, easy fruit muffin recipe.  Added to my baking rotation!