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The Joy of Little Cookies

July 17, 2002|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Here are cookies you can eat without feeling too guilty. That's because they're small--not to mention irresistible. They pair wonderfully with summer fruit, as well as sorbets and ice creams.

Start with the "Peanutters" and Coconut Toffee Crisps, light, delicate cookies. Then bake a batch of your favorite brownies and cut them into small bites. Group all three on a platter for a nice and easy presentation.

You can also pack them up for picnics or potlucks, or give them as gifts, attractively packaged in cellophane bags, tied at the top with raffia.

Each recipe makes enough cookies, too, to compensate for those who won't be able to eat just one or two.

And if small is not for you, you can always make the crisps and peanut cookies bigger and cut the brownies larger. No one will ever know.

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'Peanutters'

Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

Lightly salted roasted peanut halves, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Use a mixer to cream the granulated and brown sugars and butter. Add the egg white and vanilla; mix well. Add the peanut butter; mix until smooth. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour, baking soda and salt; mix just until the flour disappears. Do not overmix.

Use a pastry bag fitted with a 1/3-inch wide tip to pipe out 1-inch diameter rounds, spacing them 2 inches apart, on the baking sheets. Alternately, use 1 teaspoon of batter for each cookie. Top each with a peanut half.

Bake until set and just slightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Let the cookies rest 3 minutes, then use a metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for several days at room temperature or freeze up to 1 month, wrapped airtight.

50 cookies. Each cookie: 44 calories; 29 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.22 gram fiber.

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Coconut Toffee Crisps

Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup dark corn syrup

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Use a mixer to cream the butter, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Add the syrup, rum and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the cake flour, coconut and salt.

Use 1/2 teaspoon of batter for each cookie and drop onto the parchment paper, spacing 3 inches apart. Use your palm or the back of a spoon to slightly flatten.

Bake the cookies until lightly browned, about 17 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer them onto paper towels to cool completely. Once cooled, store up to 5 days in an airtight container, at room temperature.

To serve, press a light sprinkling of powdered sugar through a fine sieve evenly over the surface of the cookies.

About 60 (1 1/2-inch) crisps. Each crisp: 42 calories; 9 mg sodium; 4 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.10 gram fiber.

Variation: Make "cigarette-shaped" cookies by rolling them as soon as they come out of the oven. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time. As soon as the sheet is out of the oven, use a small offset spatula to roll each warm cookie over the handle of a wooden spoon. If some cookies harden before you roll them, return them to the oven for several seconds until pliable.

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