Special Valentine's Day Edition of Cookies with Mr. T: Chocolate Truffles

The title is a bit misleading this time, as instead of baking cookies I am making chocolate truffles for Valentine's Day. This recipe is easy and delicious, so enjoy!

Cookies with Mr. T: Brandy Snaps

Greetings, folks! I feel like it’s been a while, but I am back with some more cookies. Today we are finishing off the 1940s with a pretty short and simple recipe for Brandy Snaps. That being said, they didn’t turn out quite right for me, as you will see...

Cookies with Mr. T: Orange Drop Cookies

Happy holidays, fellow cookie aficionados. This week I am taking a break from the book routine for a special holiday edition of Cookies with Mr. T. When were last visiting family, Jess was telling her mother how much she loves the Pillsbury orange rolls (these bad boys), but that we cannot find them anywhere in Brooklyn. Her mother gave us a cookie recipe which she said replicates the flavor quite well. As we were hosting some friends for Thanksgiving last week, and the other 463572 things we were making weren’t enough, we decided (or was it that Jess decided for me?) to make these cookies as well. I must say, my mother-in-law was right; they do replicate that flavor pretty well.

Cookies with Mr. T: Jelly Centers

Hello readers! For 1948, Gourmet magazine provides us with a recipe for jelly centers. The book says that these cookies are “exactly what you want when you’re in the mood to pamper yourself.” Don’t get carried away here, book editor. The end result wasn’t bad, but they didn’t really seem all that decadent to me. I will say, though, that this was a pretty easy recipe and didn’t require as many ingredients as some of the other ones I’ve done. Let’s get down to it.

Cookies with Mr. T: Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies

Greetings, all! With the wedding over, I am back to baking cookies. We are now up to 1947, which brings us another Christmas cookie, one which Gourmet magazine referred to as the “pride of the thrifty housewife.” Wait, does this mean I’m a housewife? Anyway, this time I'm making old-fashioned Christmas butter cookies. Ingredients

Ok, here is what you’ll need. As usual, I’m providing the amounts given, although I only used 1/3 of the ingredients because I didn’t want to make the 12 dozen(!) cookies that the recipe apparently produces.

3 hard-cooked yolks 1 pound (2 cups) sweet butter 2 1/2 cups sugar 6 cups sifted flour 3 raw yolks Rind of 1/2 a lemon or 2 teaspoons brandy Egg white 1 cup blanched almonds or walnuts, coarsely chopped

Egg with "sieve" End result of egg

1. Put three hard-cooked yolks through a fine sieve. The editors provide some info on hard-cooking yolks, which is helpful because I had no idea how to do it. They say to put the yolks (do that whole transferring the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, or whatever method you prefer, to get rid of the rest of the egg) in a saucepan with cold water, partially cover it, and bring the water to a “rolling boil.” Then, reduce the heat to low and cook the egg yolks for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and, covering it, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then run them under cold water for about 5 minutes. Now we come to the sieve, which I do not have. According to some people on the internet, you can use a tea strainer, and so that’s what I did. However, I could not strain the yolk, as it was cooked through. My assumption is that the yolk is not supposed to be fully cooked, but who knows?

Mixing some ingredients

2. Cream the butter and gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar, mixing until light and fluffy. I wasn’t sure what sweet butter was, and so I looked it up online and found that it is merely unsalted butter. The editors point out that the butter should be softened, and so I took it out before I did all the business with the egg yolk, and so it was softened up by the time I got to this step. I just threw it in the stand mixer and slowly added the sugar. And, seriously, folks, go by a stand mixer if you want to bake. It makes things so much easier.

3. Add the strained yolks alternately with the sifted flour and raw yolks. Since I didn’t really have a strained yolk from step one, I just tossed in what I had, and then added some flour, a raw yolk, and the rest of the flour. I forgot to sift the flour, but it really didn’t matter. There must be some purpose to sifting one dry ingredient like flour, but I’m definitely too lazy to look it up right now. Do any of you know why?

adding an egg yolk dough ball

4. Now, you need to knead this mixture with your hands until you have a smooth and easy-to-handle dough. Probably due to that egg debacle I had back in step one, my mixture at this point was too dry and mealy. However, I just tossed in another egg yolk, mixed it all some more, and then ended up with something more like dough. It was still a bit mealy, but totally workable. At this point, add your lemon rind or brandy (I went with brandy, because we have basically a lifetime’s supply left over from the wedding) and knead it some more. Now, put this in the fridge to chill for a few hours. I just left it overnight.

rolling out the dough ready for the oven

 

5. Go ahead and preheat your over to 350. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible. If the dough is cold, you may need to work it with your hands for a bit to get it ready to roll out. With big balls of dough I often break or cut it into smaller pieces and work them individually. Once you’ve rolled it out, use a cookie cutter(s) to cut out shapes. Since these are Christmas cookies, I used a Christmas tree, which felt weird to be doing in October, no doubt. Next, slightly beat an egg white and brush each cookie evenly with it. I don’t have a brush, so I just spread it with the bottom of a spoon. Then, stir the rest of your sugar and your walnuts or almonds together (pro tip: I used walnuts, and you don’t need to blanch them. Many people on the Googles said that it actually kills many of the nutrients in the nuts to do so anyhow). Sprinkle some of this mixture on each cookie.

6. Now, either flour a cookie sheet (which is what the original recipe calls for, but they also spell cookie as cooky, so who wants to listen to them?) or use parchment paper (which is what the editors suggest), put the cookies on there, and toss (and by toss I mean place carefully) it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. I think I cooked them for about 13-15 minutes. The directions say to remove them when they become “delicately brown,” whatever that means. When they started browning and didn’t look all doughy I took them out.

yum yum yum

These cookies were great. One trend I’ve noticed with these recipes so far is that none of the cookies are incredibly sweet or flavorful, and these are no exception. However, both Jess and I like them, they’re pretty easy to make and don’t involve a lot of ingredients, and would go great with a cup of tea or coffee.

 

Cookies with Mr. T: Moravian Christmas Cookies

Welcome back, folks! Today, we’re in December, 1946. Did you know that December of 1946 marked the release of It’s a Wonderful Life in theaters? I didn’t either, until I went to Wikipedia and typed in 1946. As this is a Christmas cookie, you can eat it while you watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Just ignore the fact that it’s 80 degrees outside.

Cookies with Mr. T: Cinnamon Sugar Crisps

Hey cookie lovers! I’m back for another installment of Cookies with Mr. T. Apologies for the lack of posts lately; a month in the Midwest followed by a busy teaching schedule in July kept me pretty busy. But, I am back and ready to take you on another baking adventure. Today we are in 1944, and we are baking Cinnamon Sugar Crisps. This baking experience was one of those rare occasions where the end product turns out nothing like the recipe indicates, but you still end up with something delicious nonetheless.  

Here are the ingredients (I am giving you the amounts provided, but I cut everything in half to make a smaller batch):

1/2 cup butter or margarine 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 2/3 cup dark molasses 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 2 1/2 cups pastry flour (as usual, cake flour is fine) 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt

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1. Cream together the butter or margarine (the editors suggest real butter) with the sugar until the mixture is light and lemon colored. My soon-to-be mother-in-law got me an awesome stand mixer for my birthday, so I put that to good use here. Although it doesn’t say, I’d recommend softening the butter. I didn’t, and it did not mix easily.

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2. Once you’ve creamed that, beat the egg (I just did it with a fork) and mix it in. Then, mix the almond and vanilla extracts into the molasses and mix that in. Now, I didn’t have dark molasses, but apparently you can substitute different kinds of molasses for each other. The flavors can be a bit different, but it’s fine. I had unsulphured molasses, and so I used that.

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3. In a separate bowl, sift together the pastry flour (again, I used cake flour), baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. The recipe called for a “generous” two teaspoons of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon salt, so I just didn’t level off the measuring spoon. In lieu of sifting (I don’t have a sifter), I just used a whisk.

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4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and molasses. I turned on the stand mixer, let it do its thing, and slowly poured in the flour mixture while it was going. In general with the stand mixer, ingredients can get pushed out beyond the reach of the mixers, even as the bowl is rotating, so I just push ingredients back into position with a spatula while it’s mixing.

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5. At this point, according to the original recipe, you should have a cookie dough that can be rolled out. I had nothing even close. What I ended up was more like cupcake batter than cookie dough. Fortunately, the friendly editors know about this, and tell you to put the batter/dough in the fridge for at least three hours. I thought that meant I was on the right track and happily bagged up the mixture and put it in the fridge. When I took it out five or so hours later, it was still a battery, sticky mess. There was no way I was going to roll this out. However, the batter/dough/whatever it is was tasty, so I decided to just proceed as I could. I tried to take some out by hand (and then by spoon) and drop it on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, but that proved difficult as well. Jess suggested I cut the corner of the bag and squeeze the cookie substance out like it was a pastry bag, so that is what I did.

6. The directions say that at this point you could moisten the cookies with milk, water, or fruit juice and then sprinkle them with mixed sugar and cinnamon. The gooiness of what I had meant I didn’t need to wet them, but I did sprinkle some sugar on them.

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7. Put the cookies into an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. The directions say 10-12 minutes, but since what I had was very different, I just kept an eye on them and took them out when they looked done. I didn’t time it exactly, but it actually was around 10-12 minutes.

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8. As you can see, what came out of the oven was pretty sad and deformed looking. I let them cool a bit, and then Jess and I dug in.

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Turns out, they were actually pretty tasty. The accompanying picture in the recipe book showed small, flat, crispy cookies, but the cookies I ended up with were big and soft. The smaller ones ended with varying degrees of burnt on the bottoms, but the bigger ones were fine. I ended up throwing out two of the smaller ones for just this reason, and then Jess and I may or may not have finished the remaining ones immediately. So, if a recipe ever doesn't turn out as planned, don't freak out, because you may still end up with something pretty delicious.

 

Cookies with Mr. T: Scotch Oat Crunchies

Welcome back to another edition of Cookies with Mr. T! In today’s post we’ll be making the best cookie recipe from Gourmet Magazine for 1943, scotch oat crunchies. Given WWII, recipes abounded for using oats, and this cookie recipe is no exception. I think this one turned out much better than those honey refrigerator cookies from 1942.

Cookies with Mr. T: Honey Refrigerator Cookies

Hello, Last Call readers! I’m back with another cookie recipe. This time we're going back to 1942. The top cookie recipe of that year from Gourmet Magazine was for honey refrigerator cookies and, let me tell you, they are about as exciting as they sound. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The “honey” part of the recipe is noteworthy, as in 1942 WWII was in full swing and sugar was being rationed.

Cookies with Mr. T: Cajun Macaroons

I’ve found baking is my jam. I like cooking, don’t get me wrong. But, as someone who wasn’t quite comfortable with recipes that required me to determine amounts of things on my own, I found baking and its reliance on exact amounts to be comforting. Jess bought me a book with the best cookies recipe from Gourmet magazine from each year of the publication’s run, 1941-2009. So we decided to go year by year and bake each recipe. First up, 1941 (Cajun Macaroons).