Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Bad Case of BC

Yes, I am Baking Challenged. I hate the exactness of baking -- 1/4 teas., 1/8 teas! Why don't they just say "pinch" and leave it at that? Measuring out a cup of flour and then having to level it off with a knife blade. Maddening. But more than anything else, I cannot stand the feel of flour on my hands which is pretty much a career ender right there.

So it was a happy surprise to come across two cookie recipes that even a dullard like myself could make fairly easily (or so I think without actuallly having tried to do it.)

Damon Lee Fowler (previously covered,) writing in Bon Appetit, has shared these with us. Fowler is a Southern food writer of great distinction -- he once wrote an entire book on fried chicken which strikes me as "Southern eccentricity" to the max, but what does a Damned Yankee know?

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teas. salt (pinch, dammit!)
2 teas. finely grated orange peel
3 large eggs
24 oz. (about 6 cups, firmly packed) sweetened, flaked coconut
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted to garnish

Turn the oven on to 325, plan to use the center rack. Line three, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the butter until smooth, add the sugar, salt and blend. Beat in the orange peel, then the eggs -- one at a time. Mix in the coconut and drop the batter on the cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 in. apart.

Bake them, one sheet at a time, for about 25 -30 minutes. You want them golden brown on the bottom and browned in spots on top. Let them cool and then drizzle them with the melted chocolate.

Dough: 1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, room temperature
1 3-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1 T sugar
1/4 teas. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt. Stir in the flour -- the dough will be soft and sticky. Shape the dough in a disc, cover it and chill it for at least two hours. Then form the dough into 24 1-in balls, press them into a mini-muffin pan, forming them into a shell shape. Chill for another 15 minutes or so.

Filling: 3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1 large egg
2 T amaretto
2 T (1/4 stick) sweet butter, melted and cooled
1/8 teas. salt (tedious - why not just say "5 grains of salt")
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels.

Pre-heat the oven to 350, then whisk the sugar, egg, amaretto, butter and salt together. Stir in the almonds and chocolate morsels and spoon this filling into the shells.

Bake until the crusts are golden and the filling is set -- 23 to 25 minutes. Let them stand until you can pry the shells out of the muffin pan and store them.

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