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GOOD COOKING

The Joy of Cookies

April 22, 1993|ABBY MANDEL

My favorite cookies are light, crisp and on the small side--the sort of cookies that are best eaten with fruit or sorbet or ice cream. Two good recipes from this school of cookie baking are Lacy Maple-Oatmeal Crisps and Light Lemon-Butter Wafers.

Chilled Chocolate Chip-Walnut-Caramel Bars, however, are rich, sweet and candy-like--they are at their best with nothing more than a cold glass of milk.

All three recipes are easy to handle timewise. The wafers and crisps can be baked in stages since the dough holds well overnight in the refrigerator. For the bar cookies, the topping is spread right on the unbaked crust, and they bake together.

One practical tip for cookies that stick to the baking sheet: Sprinkle the greased baking sheet with water, then shake off the excess. This moisture helps release the baked cookies without making them the least bit soggy. This works much better than foil, and it's more straightforward than bothering with parchment paper.

LACY MAPLE-OATMEAL CRISPS 2/3 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon maple extract 1 1/4 cups oatmeal (not quick cooking) 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Sift flour, baking soda and salt onto piece of wax paper.

Cream butter with granulated and brown sugars. Add egg and vanilla and maple extract and mix until smooth. Add sifted flour mixture. Stir in oatmeal and pecans.

Lightly grease baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with water, shaking off excess. Use slightly rounded teaspoon of dough for each cookie, spacing 2 inches apart (they spread as they bake) on prepared sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Reverse sheets as necessary to even out baking. Use wide spatula to transfer cookies to cooling racks. Can be stored in airtight container at room temperature several days. Makes 60 (2 3/4-inch diameter) cookies.

Each cookie contains about: 57 calories; 12 mg sodium; 10 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 grams protein; 0.04 grams fiber.

These cookies spread out as they cook, so a small amount of dough goes farther than you might think. The recipe doubles easily. The processor is preferable over the mixer in making these cookies because when the zest is minced with the sugar, the cookies are more lemony.

LIGHT LEMON-BUTTER WAFERS Zest of 1 large lemon 1/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract 1 large egg 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, sifted Dash salt

Mince zest with sugar. Add butter and mix until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add lemon extract and egg. Mix until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Spoon flour and salt over mixture and mix just to combine.

Grease baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with water, shaking off excess. Use rounded teaspoon of dough for each cookie, spacing 3 inches apart on prepared sheets. With wet finger, shape dough neatly into thick coins so they will bake into rounds.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned on edges, about 6 to 8 minutes. Reverse sheets as necessary to even out baking. Use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to cooling racks. Can be stored several days in airtight container at room temperature. Makes 32 (2 1/2-inch diameter) cookies.

Each cookie contains about: 43 calories; 10 mg sodium; 14 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams protein; 0 grams fiber.

I prefer these cookies chilled because they tend to stay crisper.

CHILLED CHOCOLATE CHIP-WALNUT-CARAMEL BARS 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 large egg Dash salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 3/4 cup walnut pieces

Cream 1/2 cup brown sugar with butter. Add flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt and mix until crumbly. Transfer crumbs to lightly greased 9x9-inch pan, spreading evenly. Working with hand through piece of plastic, press crumbs into solid crust.

Put remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, egg, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and vanilla into small bowl. Use wooden spoon to mix until smooth. Stir in chips and walnuts. Spoon mixture onto crust, using edge of spoon to gently spread chips and nuts evenly over crust. (Mixture will not cover crust completely. There will be spaces.)

Bake at 350 degrees until medium brown, about 28 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes before cutting into 16 squares with sharp knife. Chill until completely cool. Once bars are chilled and chocolate is firm, remove from pan and store in airtight container. Makes 16 squares.

Each square contains about: 163 calories; 43 mg sodium; 25 mg cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 18 grams carbohydrates; 1 grams protein; 0.08 grams fiber.

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