No smell can be more heavenly than cookies baking, and I truly believe, for a long time now, that angels smell like cookies. It's comforting and friendly -- like an unseen presence telling you that everything will be okay. These days, it reminds me more of my Dad. He had a way of comforting me, of letting me know that everything will be okay. I miss my Dad very much, and it pains me so much that I can’t just pick up the phone to talk to him anymore. I wish he is sitting in my kitchen right now while I bake cookies, listening to my stupid rant, smiling, telling me I'm full of shit, but nonetheless, reassuring me everything will be alright. I will miss him everyday, for the rest of my life. He is my angel, and I bet, he smell like cookies.
So today I am baking two of my favorite cookies-– Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies. I have baked a lot of cookies the past 3 years, and these are the best ever. I am craving a cakey cookie, so I decided to make Italian Ricotta Cookies as well.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home
(makes about thirty 3-inch cookies)
Thomas Keller writes in the book: "This is our version of what is arguably the best cookie ever. I like to use different chocolates, one sweeter, one with a more complex bittersweet balance. After you chop the chocolate, sift it to remove any tiny fragments to give the cookies a cleaner look. If you like softer cookies, don’t underbake them, just mist them with water before baking."
2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55 percent chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
5 ounces 70 to 72 percent chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Sift flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.Put chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust” (small fragments). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary.
Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in chocolate.
Remove bowl from mixer and fold dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)
Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating pans halfway through baking.
Cool cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with second batch of cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)
Note: If your brown sugar has hardened, soften it in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds.
World Peace CookiesFrom Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 85% cacao), chopped (no pieces bigger than 1/3 inch)
Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn't come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Italian Ricotta Cookies
Recipe from Carly’s Kitchen
(makes about 45 cookies)
2 sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 c. sugar
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350.
In a med. bowl cream butter, sugar, eggs, ricotta, and vanilla. Add flour all at once and then pulse the mixture until it forms a workable dough. Scoop with small cookie or ice cream scoop onto an ungreased cooking sheet. Bake 10-12 min. until lightly browned.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
5 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla paste
2 tsp. almond extract
pinch of salt
about 4 cups powdered sugar
In a stand mixer, use whisk attachment and whip cream cheese and butter until really fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add salt and flavorings. Add powdered sugar and whip again. Can add more powdered sugar till consistency is how you like it.