alice medrich, cherry almond bars, cookies and brownies, cranberry zucchini carrot bread, gilt taste, gingersnaps, holiday baking, momofuku milk bar, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, snappy gingersnaps, snickerdoodle, sono baking company cookbook, sugar cookie cutouts, sur la table paper loaf mold
Although I generally incorporate some baking into every holiday season, the volume of baking varies from year to year. This year, since I was going to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my cousins on my mom’s side of the family, I decided to go all-in on the baking.
Cookies are always a big hit and make pretty presents. This year, I decided to try two new recipes posted on Gilt Taste from the staff at Momofuku Milk Bar— the snappy gingersnaps and sugar cutout cookies. These supplemented my stand-by recipes for snickerdoodles and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. For those who get a toothache from all the sugar, I also made cherry almond bars (not pictured) and cranberry, zucchini, and carrot bread from the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook.
I normally keep a pretty good supply of baking staples at home — butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and chocolate. However, to execute my planned bake-a-thon, I supplemented my supplies with an additional five pounds of flour, four pounds of butter, a dozen and a half eggs, and six pounds of sugar(!).
My Momofuku cookies were +/- in the end. . . the gingersnaps weren’t quite as “snappy” or spicy as I’d like, but I fault my own ingredients rather than the recipe. I probably should have gotten new and better quality molasses and ground ginger instead of using what I dug out of my pantry. I also did not have cardamom and substituted with nutmeg? Forming the perfect shaped log for the slice-and-bake method proved more difficult than I thought and resulted in some pretty irregularly shaped cookies. But all and all, they are a nice relief from the other supersweet cookies in this year’s cookie batch.
The sugar cutout recipe turned out really well. I’ve tried several different sugar cookie cutout recipes in the past but have never been in love with any of them. In the end, the basic three-ingredient recipe from Milk Bar’s pastry sou chefs is definitely my favorite. All you need is butter, sugar, and flour! Instead of the traditional sugar cookie icing, I wanted cookie *frosting* similar to those deliciously bad store-bought frosted sugar cookies. I Googled, and ended up using a simple recipe that included shortening. Admittedly, shortening frightens me a bit, and I’ve never used it, but since these are not cookies I make (or eat) often, I thought it’d be ok for a little indulgence this holiday season :). To “compensate” for the shortening, I stayed away from the food coloring and topped the frosting with clear and gold sanding sugar.
I received the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook as a gift from my cousin, and I have yielded consistently great results. Because my parents, aunts, and uncles are less enamored with sugar-heavy cookies, I converted the cranberry, zucchini, carrot muffin recipe into a loaf recipe. Each batch yielded two 8″ loaves that were instantly gift-ready in Sur La Table’s paper loaf molds. The burst of bright red cranberries were extra festive for the holidays!
Years ago, my cousin made snickerdoodles for Thanksgiving, and since then, her recipe from from Cookie and Brownies by Alice Medrich has become a staple in my baking repertoire. Although I am not always this lucky, this particular batch turned out quite well, as far as texture, shape, and crackle go:
And last but not least, I made an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that I actually got from a friend in high school! For over 6 or 7 years, had the list of measured ingredients and oven temperature (375*) written on a square Post-It note. At one point, I upgraded it onto a larger piece of paper, but the method for combining and incorporating the ingredients and purely based on the standard method for baking, cookies especially, over the years which basically boils down to five steps:
- Measure and wisk together dry (flour, baking soda/powder, salt) ingredients in medium bowl.
- Cream sugar and butter together until smooth but not fluffy.
- Add eggs and vanilla to sugar and butter.
- Incorporate dry ingredients.
- Fold in mix-ins (i.e., oatmeal or chocolate chips).
Works every time. For this batch, I also drew inspiration from Teaism’s salty oat cookie and lightly rolled each cookie in kosher salt before baking.
At the end of the (2.5) day(s), I made over 190 cookies, 6 loaves of cran-zucchini-carrot bread, and 16 cherry almond bars. Hands down my biggest bake-a-thon to date. . . and a very, merry Christmas to all!