Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Monday, February 22, 2010

Death By Cookie

In my previous blog I mentioned a certain fondness for desserts, so I think it’s only fair if I give out some of my favorite recipes. This first one was passed along to me by my mother-in-law, Teddie Hogan, the best cook I know.

Teddie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ¾ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ cup ( 1 stick) softened butter

½ cup shortening

(you can use 1 cup butter or 1 cup shortening if you prefer – I like to mix them in order to get the best flavor/texture ratio)

¾ cup light brown sugar

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs (they work best at room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla

(I also add 1 tsp orange flavor)

½ tsp water (I live in a dry climate – I use up to 2 tsp water)

1 bag semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

(I often add ½ cup walnuts and ½ cup dried cherries)

(NOTE: This recipe can be doubled)

I use a KitchenAid power mixer, because I am a lazy bum. I think my mother-in-law uses her Cuisinart up until the point when she adds the chocolate chips. (She also makes her pie-crust dough using her Cuisinart, which I think is totally cool.) If you use a hand-held mixer, you’ll have to stir in most of the flour by hand. Likewise the chocolate chips and nuts. The directions below apply to the power mixer.

I like to make my cookies big, so this recipe usually makes 2 dozen biggies. If you like your cookies smaller, bake them at 375° instead of 400°. If you like them crunchier instead of chewier, bake them a little longer. Otherwise, you can follow the instructions below pretty closely.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Line two large baking sheets with foil, parchment paper, or wax paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Blend butter, shortening, and sugars together with the power mixer. Add eggs and flavorings until just blended. Add flour a little at a time, keeping the mixer running. Add water and keep blending until you have a smooth dough. I also use my power mixer to add the chocolate chips, the nuts, and the dried cherries, but you can mix them in by hand if you prefer.

I use an ice cream scoop to spoon the dough onto the sheets – about ¼ cup for each cookie. If you have leftover dough after scooping 2 dozen cookies, you’re not making them quite big enough (I just glom the remaining dough into the blobs on the sheet).

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes (unless you like them crunchier, like my brother does). I have a wonky old oven, so I usually check mine at 13 minutes. If I bake them for 15 minutes without checking at 13, they get a little burned. Sometimes they’re ready to come out at 13 minutes, sometimes I let them go a couple of extra minutes (opening the oven cools it down a little, so they don’t get fried).

Two of these cookies at breakfast will take you all the way to lunch (or beyond). I store mine in a ziplock bag. If you store them in a cookie jar, they’ll probably dry out a bit, but if you like to dunk them in your coffee, that works out pretty well. They’re great if you’re going to be hiking all day, and to take on long car trips if you need snacks.

This second recipe is for lovers of strong peanut-butter flavor – it uses old-fashioned peanut butter instead of the homogenous blends. Some people hate the old-fashioned stuff because you have to stir it to blend the peanut oil back into the peanut butter, but it has a much better flavor than the peanut butter that has shortening already blended into it. Stir the peanut butter thoroughly just before you make this recipe.

Em’s Big, Evil Peanut Butter Cookies

(WARNING: if you eat these more than a few times a year, you may drop dead with clogged arteries. On the other hand, maybe the peanut oil is good for you . . .)

1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks softened butter

¾ of an 18 oz jar of old-fashioned peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

this recipe can be doubled

Once again, the directions below apply to the power mixer. And I like to make my peanut butter cookies as big as my chocolate chippers, so this recipe makes about 2 dozen biggies.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Line two large baking sheets with foil, parchment paper, or wax paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Blend butter, peanut butter, and sugars together with the power mixer. Add egg and vanilla until just blended. Add flour a little at a time, keeping the mixer running, until you have a smooth dough. Add chopped walnuts if you want them – their mild flavor contrasts nicely with the peanut butter.

I use the ice cream scoop to spoon the dough onto the baking sheets, and then I use a fork to make the cross-hatch patterns everyone likes on peanut-butter cookies. But you can also make smaller balls with the dough, moosh them slightly, bake them, and then stick Hershey’s kisses into them when they’re cooling. I like to use the kisses with the almonds in them.

If you’re making the big cookies, bake them 13 to 15 minutes. If you’re making the smaller balls that you want to stick the kisses in (stick those kisses in AFTER the cookies come out of the oven), start checking them at 10 minutes or so.

The big (un-Kissed) cookies are also good for breakfast or to take in your hiking pack.


Em’s Excessive Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup (slightly heaping) Dutch Process cocoa

about 16 oz powdered sugar (more or less may be necessary, depending on what consistency you want – you can cool the frosting to firm it up a bit, if you want to use less sugar.)

1 tsp vanilla

(you can also use a little orange, coffee, or rum flavorings)

Place the butter, heavy cream, and cocoa in a saucepan over medium heat (stirring occasionally) until the butter is melted and the mixture is just starting to boil. Don’t worry if the cocoa isn’t perfectly blended, but take the mixture off the heat as soon as it starts to bubble. If you overheat it a little, don’t worry, this recipe is actually fairly forgiving if you goof.

Pour the mixture into the mixing bowl of your power mixer or hand mixer and blend in 1 or 2 cups of powdered sugar. You can cool the mixture a little at this point if you want to use less sugar, then blend in some more powdered sugar. Blend in the powdered sugar until you have the consistency you want.

This frosting seems to work best on cupcakes and sheet cakes. If you’re going to use it on cakes or cupcakes you made with a packaged mix, you might want to make it less firm – the cocoa adds density to the mixture, and it might tear tender cakes to pieces if you try to spread it.

If you decide to spread it on either of the cookie recipes listed above, I truly fear for your sanity. Though I do sort of understand where you’re coming from.

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