Magazine covers feature Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing, or some variation. But for the December issue, magazines often veer from the Christmas dinner. The covers of the three top national food magazines this December 2017 display desserts: Bon Appetit features chocolate-glazed chocolate biscuits; Food & Wine pictures a snowy day with puffy strawberry jam-filled doughnuts; and Food Network Magazine goes traditional with sugar cookies frosted with holiday red icing.
Of all the desserts, cookies are perhaps the most closely associated with Christmas and the holidays. Pies are for July 4th barbecues, with patriotic-hued blueberries and strawberries. Pies also grace Thanksgiving, brimming with creamy pumpkin or studded with pecans. Cupcakes are light with delicate white crumb and zesty lemon frosting, matching the spring flowers and brighter days of Easter. Chocolate is for Valentine’s and Halloween too. Cakes signal birthdays, weddings, dinner parties, afternoon gatherings, and even morning treats with cinnamon crumbles.
Cookies are for all year, every season, and even every day. Cookies reign especially this time of year. So, what is the attraction of cookies? What is their enduring and endearing quality?
To answer, we turn to Dorie Greenspan, author of Cookies and self-described baking evangelist. In an interview on the radio/podcast The Splendid Table, Dorie describes that “cookies are something we share. You never just make one cookie.”
We see this spirit of generosity especially with cookie swaps, or a gathering of friends that swap cookies. Simplify your own baking and host a cookie swap this year. Need tips to host a cookie swap? Check out Bon Appetit’s guide on how to throw a holiday cookie swap, Martha Stewart’s 8 steps to hosting a cookie swap, or even Food Network’s guide on hosting a holiday cookie swap party.
“Cookies are among the most generous of sweets,” Dorie claims.
In baking, you foster the generous and sweet spirit of cookies and give memories to others. In childhood, we started with cookies. Even if you didn’t grow up in a baking home, you probably had graham cracker cookies, vanilla wafers, or animal crackers, all mildly sweet cookies that cross into snack arena. Grocery stores tap into cookies’ association with a treat or even as a child pacifier with their free cookies. A rainbow-sprinkled soft sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie can reward a well-behaved child or soothe a screaming child and relieve parents.
So, if you do make a batch of cookies, here are tips from Dorie Greenspan to elevate your cookies baking game.
- Don’t overbeat the dough. A mistake is often overbeating the cookie dough. But as the cookies puff up in the oven, they collapse, exhaling and flattening. Instead, beat gently.
- Use cookie scoops. Use cookie scoops for uniform size cookies, so the cookies all bake evenly. A bonus with cookie scoops is it saves time. One scoop through the dough is faster and easier than using your hands to roll and form cookie dough balls.
- Preheat the oven and wait 15 minutes to make sure it is evenly hot. Cookies will bake perfectly with the slightly crisp exterior and soft chewy inside with the right temperature.
- Use a lined baking sheet. Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper helps cookies bake more evenly and can be easily thrown away afterwards. And, as Dorie says, “who wants to clean up after? It takes the fun out of cookies.”
Need a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe? Try our favorite, Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Rolled oats are ground, adding a natural sweetness and nutty texture. Grated milk chocolate ensures chocolate in every bite. Semi-sweet chocolate chunks add a chew (and even more chocolate!). Toss in toasted pecans for a salty, pleasing buttery crunch. Pour a glass of chilled milk and munch happily away.
Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies
|Yield: 50 cookies|
Enjoy this "secret" recipe from the world-famous cookie franchise. Ground oats give the cookies their distinctive nutty, slightly crumbly texture. Grated milk chocolate, semi-sweet chunks, and toasted pecans create for an interesting bite every time.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 2 ½ c rolled oats, ground
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chunks
- 4 ounces Hershey's milk chocolate bar (half of a bar), grated
- 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until just blended.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. If you haven't yet, blend the oats to a fine mill. Add to flour mixture.
- Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet, blending on low with the mixer or by hand.
- If you haven't yet, grate the Hershey milk chocolate bar. Fold in both chocolates and pecans.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or in the freezer for another time.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form golf-ball sized cookies and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are just set.
The original recipe doubles the ingredients and yields 100 cookies.
To make flatter cookies, flatten after 5 minutes, and then bake an additional 3 mins