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Monday, October 11, 2010

Cookies - I Need Cookies

I messed around with my iGoogle page - and added the Martha Stewart gadget.  It has a Cookie of the Day link and boy has that been luring me in to the kitchen!

Today I am preparing to get to see my traveling hubby for the first time in a good while (in person instead of on Skype) and I thought - hey I'll make some cookies :-)  Friday's Martha offering was Apple-Currant Cookies.  The picture was very "Autumnal" with chunky looking cookies with an apple ring on top - just up my sweetie pie's alley.  He always likes stuff with oats and raisins and spices...I don't care for cooked raisin type things - so this was definitely for him!  Now, currants aren't really raisins.  They are a small berry that look like a tiny raisin when dried - and I have not been able to find them down here at HEB or Wal-mart.  What is generally sold in grocery stores - and called currants - are a small Greek grape dried into small raisins - the Zante Raisin.  Huh, who knew?  We apparently couldn't grow currant bushes in the United States until 2003 because of some disease the shrub carried which could cause a problem for our timber.  So, in the early 1900s it became popular to import these little Greek raisins and call them currants.  If you want to know more about currants - here's the link I found when I started wondering "hmmm, what exactly is the problem with finding currants?"   

While I was waiting for my oil change at Wal-mart I picked up the few things I needed for the recipe and noticed dried BLUEBERRIES that actually looked similar to currants.  The teen won't eat cooked raisins (it's genetic I guess) but loves blueberries so I thought this might make everyone happy.

A few thing I learned today ....
1.  the proper tools, as in all things, make life so much easier
2. it is important to know how much cookie dough is in a 1oz. scoop. 

The recipe called for plumping the currants with apple cider - no apple cider but lots of apple juice - eh, good enough.  The package of dried blueberries only came out to a little over 1/2 cup - eh, good enough.  I wasn't making homemade Apple Butter - Bama is good enough for me and seemed to be good enough for the recipe.  Plus, I added 1 tsp. of vanilla - because I like vanilla with my spice based baked goods.

So, here's MY rendition of Martha's cookies.  Here's the link for Martha's cookies in case you think you might rather go with the "professional" on this issue!

Apple-Blueberry Cookies

Ingredients (Makes about 3 dozen cookies if you use the proper scoop)

1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup dried blueberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter (unsalted was called for but I didn't have any) - room temperature
2 cups dark brown sugar - firmly packed
1 cup Bama Apple Butter
1 large egg - room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
3 Granny Smith apples (or any tart and crisp cooking apples)
Super fine granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional - but I used it)

Tools (Martha doesn't tell you this as a separate line item - I think it's important)
Stand Mixer with paddle attachment
Baking Sheet with Silpat (it will go faster if you have 3 or 4 of these)
Small saucepan
Small bowl for berries
Separate bowl for dry goods (one with a pour spout on the rim is a good plan)
Measuring spoons
Dry measuring cup
Wet measuring cup
Big Spoon
Strong Spatula
Box Grater
Microplane (for nutmeg)
Apple corer
Mandolin (or very sharp knife for slicing apple very thin)
Paring Knife or Peeler
1 oz cookie scoop (that would be a scoop that scoops 2 TBSP of dough - not 3 TBSP of dough or 1 TBSP of dough - but TWO TBSP of dough - this is important if you want your cookies to look like Martha's)

So - if I'd known all of that - I probably would not have gotten gung ho on these cookies - my mandolin is in my storage unit, I don't have a box grater any longer and my hand held grater seems to be hiding - couldn't find it anywhere.  I usually use the food processor but I recently purchased a bigger, better, badder food processor and I would have had to figure out how to use the grating apparatus and that just seemed like too much I used the microplane - big mistake - took FOREVER - and I grated my finger requiring paper towel and rubber band first aid (don't ask about the band-aids - it's another story).  I also have a large and a small cookie dough scoop but not a medium...and the medium is apparently 1 oz as called for in Martha's recipe.  Neither of my scoops are marked with the volume, by the way.  I had to go to Pampered Chef's website and look up the volume of the one I have (they have a large and a medium and I apparently own the large).  Then, I had to Google how many Tbsp were in an ounce.  Blah, blah, blah...I have a 1/2 ounce scoop and a one and a half ounce scoop - but no one ounce scoop.  Holy COW!  It took me FOREVER to make these cookies and it is a good thing they taste delicious because I am so freaking tired I just want to lay down now.  Anyway, back to the instructions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Line a baking sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat (I have 4 because it makes cookies go so much faster)

1.  Heat apple juice in a small saucepan to a simmer.  Place blueberries in a bowl and pour warm juice over them.  Let them plump at least 10 minutes.

2.  Sift together the four, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt and set aside in bowl.

3.  In the stand mixer bowl, with paddle attachment, cream together room temperature butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Scrape down sides of bowl, lower speed to slow, and add apple butter and beat until well blended.  Add egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until well blended.  The mixture will not be smooth - looks a little curdled - but that's okay.

4.  Add the bowl of dry ingredients, beating until just combined.

5.  Drain the plumped blueberries, discarding the juice.  Mix in berries and oats until just combined. 

6.  Peel one of the apples and using the largest holes on a box grater, shred the apple directly into the dough, rotating to avoid seeds and core.  Stir well to combine.

7.  Using a 1-ounce scoop (2 TBSP volume), scoop out six cookies evenly apart onto the prepared baking sheet. (really - don't put more than six - they really spread out)

8.  Peel and core the other 2 apples and slice thinly on a mandolin (I actually did one at a time so they didn't turn brown on me).  If you don't have a mandolin - very thinly slice with a sharp knife.  Place a thinly sliced apple ring on top of each cookie.  Sprinkle the top of each ring with a pinch of sugar if desired.

Bake in the pre-heated oven until dark brown.  18-20 minutes.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Now, I realized after 18 cookies that these cookies were just too big to handle (they were 2 handed cookies) so I used the rest of the batter and made small cookies with my 1/2 oz. scoop - since they were too small for an apple ring, I diced the remaining apple and sprinkled them on top of the dough.  The first batch of small ones I put 3 little pieces of apple on each and the 2nd and final batch I used a lot of smaller diced apple pieces - I liked them better!

So, folks, just another crazy day trying to act like Martha - and I am SO NOT!!!

NOTE:  I wrote this on Friday and thought it posted - got home Monday night and saw it had not.  Soooo, I am posting but with a footnote - these cookies, made my way, did not travel well.  The cookies I made and sampled on Friday were fabulous.  By Saturday, they had gotten really "moist" and by Saturday night I couldn't even pick them up, they were wet.  I think it was because of my faux pas with the apple grating - made it too juicy.  And, maybe even the blueberries - because when I found Zante Raisin "Currants" in Austin this week-end, they were REALLY tiny!!!  The blueberries plumped up to traditional raisin size and may have had too much moisture for the recipe.  Anyway.  Make them and eat them ... or use Martha's exact recipe - because hers say they last a long time.  Mine, not so much.
<sad face>  STILL, they tasted delicious - I will make them again and do a straight Martha method!

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