Sunday, November 20, 2011

Remedies for a Flat Cookie

Cookies and I used to have problems communicating.  I would follow the recipe, and then they would do whatever the heck they wanted.  Then I would scream and cry and slam doors.  Actually I never screamed or cried, but I probably did slam a door or two.  No matter what I did I always got flat cookies.  Sometimes I got PANCAKES.   I did everything I could think of without any result and finally decided I was just a horrible cookie-maker.  I could no longer be Mrs. Clause when I got old.  It was a rough time for me.

Luckily, one day I discovered a trick that changed my life. 


A few of us have been having a conversation about this through comments on the S'more Chocolate Chip Cookies post and I wrote this post mainly because I really felt that I needed to share it with *all* of you.  The jist is that flour weights are SO variable.  How much you are actually using depends a lot on the brand of flour, how you measure it, etc.  Usually this discrepancy may not be a big deal, but when it comes to cookies, even a little bit can throw you off. 

The easy solution is just to weigh the flour. The tricky part is that there are lots of answers for how much 1 cup of All-Purpose flour should actually weigh, (all from reputable sources).  The average seems to be about 4.5 ounces, but  I've found 5 ounces to work perfectly for me so that is what I do.

To demonstrate this whole flour craziness, I conducted a little experiment for you this week.  I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. My recipe called for 2 1/2 cups of flour, so I measured that out using  my usual method, scooping flour into my measuring cups and leveling them out.  I then weighed my total flour.

Can you read that? 10.5 ounces of flour. 

We decided each cup should have 5 ounces.  So I'm missing 2 ounces of flour here.  That doesn't seem like a lot, but lets add in flour until we get to 12.5 and see how much that is.

Finally reached the correct amount of flour weight-wise.  And... *drumroll please* ...  I added nearly an extra half CUP of flour.

It's pretty easy to see why I was getting flat cookies if I was only putting in 2 cups of flour where 2 1/2 is called for.

I now measure my flour every time I bake cookies (funnily enough it doesn't seem to affect my cakes and other baked goods so I leave those be), and they all turn out great.   If you are having problems with your cookies I highly recommend doing this.  If this trick still doesn't do it for you, feel free to try some of the other remedies below:

-When a cookie recipe calls for butter, replace half of that with stick shortening (Crisco).  If you want really fluffy cookies you can replace all the butter with shortening, but you will sacrifice some of the flavor.

-Try refrigerating you dough for 20 minutes or so before baking.  Always keep your dough in the refrigerator in between baking sessions  (ie: While one cookie sheet is baking, keep the unscooped dough in the fridge until ready to bake).

-Allow your cookie sheet to cool in between baking sessions.  Once you've removed hot cookies from it, place it in the freezer for a few minutes until room temperature or slightly cool, before using again.

-Check that your baking soda isn't expired.

-Do not melt your butter before using!  This means if you forget to bring it to room temperature, do NOT put it in the microwave to speed the process  (Totally guilty as charged here)

I hope this has helped, and I wish you many a fluffy cookies and the chance to fulfill all your childhood dreams (but being Mrs. Claus when you grow up is already taken, so back off.)
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Fancy Caramel Apples

If you have been annoyed that this picture on my sidebar has no post to it, great news... now it does!  I have been meaning to blog these  (Say this in a Sandlot voice)

Mostly I was stalled because I wanted to give you some pictures to go along with this post.  Well, hard to believe, but it's kind of hard to take a picture AND dip a caramel apple at the same time.  So I waited for a day when my hubs was home and could take some pictures while I dipped.

Speaking of the hubs, these apples were inspired by the ones at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  Men- you should know- there is nothing you can't be forgiven for if one of those apples is included in the apology.  Seriously.  

Reese's is my favorite.  Oreo and Butterfinger are fun, but I always go back to Reeses.  This is a great way to use up leftover Halloween candy at your house (and add more sugary sweets to your household). 
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Julia's Pumpkin Pie (The best pumpkin pie!)

Vegetables and I are not friends.  When I was a kid I used to sit across the dinner table from my little brother.  I didn't get dessert unless I ate all my vegetables, so, naturally, I used to sneak them down to my lap and throw them under the table to land under his chair.  My parents thought he was a REALLY messy eater.  (Don't worry. He was kinda spoiled so he probably still got dessert anyways.)

I think the only vegetables I ever consumed as a child were in the form of pumpkin pie.  My favorite thing about Thanksgiving was that my mom ALWAYS let me have pumpkin pie for breakfast in the days that followed. I could have easily consumed a whole pie if she had let me. The thought of eating it warm or at room temperature completely grosses me out, but an ice cold slice of pie with whipped cream and milk? Mmhmm.  Best breakfast of the year.

This pie is based off of the Libby's label.  If you like that, you will love this.  If you don't like pumpkin pie at all you probably won't like this either.  We can still be friends.  I'd be happy to have your piece.  My mom has been making this recipe for years.  Doubling the spices really gives it great flavor!

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving this week. 

Safe Travels!

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Easy Flaky Pie Crust

You should know first of all that I have no luck with pastry. Particularly pie crust.  Mine rarely turn out pretty and almost always shrink (You'd think I'd just invest in some pie weights but apparently I'm too stubborn for that).  If you want to ask someone questions about pastry I am not your girl.  But ugly or not, sometimes I think it is worth making your own pie crust  just for flakiness and deliciousness factor.  And since it's almost Thanksgiving, I really thought I should give you my recipe for an easy flaky pie crust.  The secret ingredient is vinegar, and it makes a huge difference.

If you're a pie connoisseur, props to you.  I'd like to hire you for Thanksgiving next year.  I can pay you in cookies.  Or secret recipes.  Your choice.
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Gingerbread Hot-Chocolate Stirring Sticks

So I found this package of Gingerbread Men marshmallows at Target last week. 


I had no idea what to do with them but I couldn't resist buying them cause they were stinkin' cute (and like $1.25).  I ended up making these little hot chocolate stirring sticks for my kids.  The best part is even little ones can help skewer the marshmallows.  They taste alright but are nothing special.  They are coated in a sugary mixture so that's why they look a little powdery.

Anyway- easy peasy, and great for a snow day.
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Stabilized Whipped Cream. A boring post, but full of tips and tricks.

This is a picture of an unfinished pie.  But I wanted you to see the piped whipped cream around the edges.  I  love flavored whipped cream on cupcakes in particular. I think it gives them such a light touch in place of the heaviness of frosting.  The problem with whipped cream is it tends to melt into a big mess when out of the fridge.  The solution is to stabilize your whipped cream.

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Cherry Watermelon Jolly Rancher Soda or... Cherry Watermelon Granita

In case you  haven't noticed yet, my maturity level is a little closer to a tweens than a mature adults'.  I buy Lipsmackers on a regular basis and have chip sandwiches for lunch about 4 days a week.  Sometimes I watch One Tree Hill.  So after the Jolly Rancher cupcakes, the soda was pretty much inevitable.  If you are a mature adult you probably aren't even reading this because it sounded nasty.  It's not.  It's delicious.  Make it for your kids.  They will love you for it.

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