Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cookies for Dad

Father's Day is this Sunday and I'm not going to be able to make it home.  I was hoping to just show up and surprise Dad, but a righteously annoying jury summons has prevented that from happening.  Thank you Jackson County.  While I've always said there isn't anything I wouldn't do for my dad, I don't think he would want me sitting in jail for contempt.

Instead of being there, I sent off a package of about eight dozen cookies and a couple of DVDs of old Philo Vance movies.  I hope he's surprised by the DVDs.  He had two of the Philo Vance mystery novels from back in the day and I went online and found the rest of them for him.  (Of course by time I accumulated them he had already read them since the ladies at the library will do anything for him.)  It's not much of a gift, but there really aren't a lot of things my dad wants (that he'll admit to, anyway) and what he does want, he usually gets instead of waiting for someone to buy it for him.  He's just like that.

Sticky dough in the piping bag.
It wasn't my intent to wait so last minute to send his gift, but I got a little too wrapped up in cupcakes.  Wanting the cookies to be as fresh as possible, I measured out all of my ingredients for molasses cookies last night and baked them this morning.  These are quick and easy to make but the dough for these cookies is so soft and sticky, I've actually found it's easier to pipe them than to scoop them. 

My first sheet is always inconsistent.  I don't keep up with my piping skills as much as I should so it takes me that first sheet to get a feel for pressure, amount, etc.  The last ones I pipe are always the best.  
No need to worry about the peaks.  They'll flatten.
And also usually the biggest.  Which is why I normally prefer using a cookie scoop.  Just not with these.  Using a scoop is not efficient when you have to scrape the dough out of the scoop every other cookie. 

I fully believe parchment paper (or a silicon baking mat) is a must for these cookies.  My mind can't conceive that putting these on an ungreased cookie sheet would have had a positive outcome unless your goal was to have a lot of smooshed and broken cookies.

The first sheet of various sized cookies.
What I forgot about making this recipe is that it makes a lot of cookies.  Two dozen fit on each of my half sheets and I baked four sheets full plus a dozen.  I managed to fit all but about four cookies into the box to ship to Dad.  I know that's a lot of cookies, but my brother's three kids are there a lot so this ensures that Dad will get at least some of them.

One more sheet to go.

Soft Molasses Cookies
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening (see note)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  (If using parchment paper, lightly spray the baking sheet with cooking spray to keep it in place.)

Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sugar on medium-high for 3 – 5 minutes, occasionally scraping the bowl and paddle.  Add the molasses and mix until combined.  Drizzle in the beaten egg and mix thoroughly.

Scrape the paddle and bowl.  Reduce the speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients.  Mix briefly and add the sour cream, followed by the remaining dry ingredients.  Mix just until combined. 

Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip with half of the dough (I used Wilton 1A but Ateco 806 would be fine as well).  You could also put the dough in a large plastic zipper bag and cut off a corner.  Pipe mounds of cookies about 1” wide and 1/2" high and 2” apart.  Bake 8 – 9 minutes.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet 1 – 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.   Let the cookie sheet cool, scrape off any crumbs from the parchment and repeat until all of the dough is used.  Makes approximately 9 dozen cookies, depending on size.

Note on shortening:
I’m not a fan of shortening, but occasionally use it along with butter in cookie recipes.  It helps the cookies maintain their shape and keeps them moister longer.  If you want to use all butter, you’ll just have thinner cookies. 

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