This week is cookie baking week at Soapsmith's. I gift homemade cookies to many friends, family and co workers each year at Christmas.
This tradition began decades ago. As a single Mom of 3 boys with limited income, I was blessed by a large group of benefactors who came to my aid that first Christmas until I was able to secure a strong financial status. During the holidays, I wanted to thank those who were so generous.
I used to bake cookies for weddings so I have a great spacious kitchen and professional equipment. I put that to good use returning the favor to my extended family, especially my fantastic in-laws, kind friends and employers with the gift of homemade goodies. Everyone enjoyed them so much it has become a long standing custom.
Now it would be much easier to purchase gifts, but the cookie giving is a strong tradition, it will go on for a long time. I would probably have a riot on my hands if I stopped now. My sons all continue this tradition with all of their employers so there is a new generation of giftees who wait for these delights.
For the holidays, I make:
Traditional Chocolate Chip (everyone's favorite)
Chocolate Crinkle (Brian's and Stephen's favorites)
Anise (for Tom)
Almond Spritz Trees and Wreaths
Maple Butternut (Pap Bartley loved these)
Pecan Tassies (Tom's favorite)
Polish Nut Rolls (lots of folks wait for these)
Peanutbutter (Rob's fav)
Peanut Blossom (with stars not kisses for Tom)
Sandtart Cut Out Cookies (my Mom loves these)
Thumbprint Cookies filled with my homemade jelly (for Mom in law)
Peanutbutter Fudge (always in demand, Brian's boss gets a box just for him)
Million Dollar Fudge
Peanutbutter Meltaway Fudge (Brian loves this, too)
And of course, I make handmade gourmet dog treats that I call Cocoa Cookies - they are "lab tested and approved". We gift these treats to all of Cocoa's friends - 2 Lucys, Spike, Drake, Woody, Remington, Cammie, Dale, Izzy and Max.
During the next week or so, I will be sharing my recipes and tips for making large batches of homemade cookies here on my blog. Be sure to check back if you would like to try some of the time tested goodies.
Tips for making large batch cookie recipes:
-If you have a large, powerful mixer you can double or triple recipes. Don't do this if your mixer cannot handle it.
-Start with a good grocery list. I do a spread sheet with all the ingredients and add each item in the quantity needed so everything is prepared and ready to go. I start with fresh baking powder and soda.
To each pound, there are about:
3 3/4 cups of flour
2 1/2 cups of sugar - 3 1/2 cups of brown sugar and 3 3 3/4 cups of powder sugar
1/2 cup of butter to each stick, 4 sticks to a pound
2 cups of shortening to a pound
2 3/4 cups of raisins, walnuts and pecans 4 cups to a pound,
This will help you determine how much to purchase.
-If you plan on doing this regularly it is a great idea to purchase mulitples of spatulas, measuring devices, extra bowls for your mixers, plenty of baking sheets. You can then work assembly line style by mixing up all the recipes, baking in groups etc.
- The bench scraper is my favorite tool, it is like a third hand. Counters are dry scraped to pick up all the flour, sugar, batter before wiping with a wet cloth. I clean as I go so I fill the sink with hot soapy water and as I finish with each tool it goes right into the sink. That water is handy to keep your hands impeccably clean.
By the time you are ready to load the dishwasher, the measuring and mixing utencils are cleaned off.
-I use parchment paper to bake almost all of my cookies. You can set up a staging table and lay out your cookies while others are baking, then just slide them on to the sheet to bake. The cookies bake much better on the parchment paper, it is non stick, eliminates cleanup and works great for roll out doughs including pie crusts.
You can reuse the paper if you plan carefully. Bake the cookies that are cleaner first, them wipe the paper with a clean towel and reuse it for the messier recipes before discarding it.
-I have a two dozen white bar mops that I keep just for baking. They can be easily washed and bleached and it is good to have them ready to grab for quick clean ups. I store them along with all of my equipment in one closet. Organization is the key for efficient baking.
-I only make cookies that freeze well. As each day's baking is complete, I package in treat and sandwich size zip lock baggies. Those are packed in large rubbermaid containers, labeled and placed into the freezer as soon as possible to retain freshness.
Once all the baking is complete, I spend an evening packing them into decorative tins ready for mailing and delivery. "Cookie Delivery Day" is an all day affair.
Today's recipe will be my Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is a slight adjustment to the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe:
Use room temperature butters and eggs
1 cup of butter
1 cup of shortening (the old time recipes called for lard, I don't use pure lard but I like the cookies with meat based shortening. You get a moister chewy cookie)
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup of light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Cream these together on high speed until it is smooth. Add 4 eggs one at a time beating well until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Blend in 2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla
Combine: 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of salt, 4 3/4 cups of flour, I use Robin Hood or "better for bread" flours, again this promotes a moist chewy cookie.
Blend at lowest speed just until well mixed. Don't overmix or you will get a tough textured cookie.
Add 2 bags of chocolate chunks, I prefer them to the chips but you can use either and 2 cups of chopped pecans.
Drop by teaspoons and bake on parchment paper lined air bake sheets. 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. I remove them slightly underdone and allow them to remain on the hot cookie sheet for several minutes before sliding the cookies and paper on to the counter to cool.
Air bake sheets encourage softer moister cookies. If you prefer crispy cookies use a dark color baking sheet and no parchment paper, then cool on racks.
Thanks for visiting,