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Back to basics

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

I was reminded this week by some readers that often the basic cookie recipes are overlooked as we writers strive to share the latest craze in cookie creation. I admit it was not a hardship to bake these cookies, which disappeared quite quickly!

Pam’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Pam Dankenbring, my sister

The pudding mix in this recipe makes these super soft cookies a favorite.

1 c. butter, softened 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar 1/4 c. granulated sugar 1 (3.5 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add dry pudding mix, eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.


Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I like to slightly hydrate my raisins before using them by soaking them in warm water for about 10 minutes, then draining and damp drying with a paper towel. Take caution in not overbaking these cookies.

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Remove to a wire rack and let cookies cool for 2 minutes before removing them to cool completely on wire rack.


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe works best with margarine, so I discourage substitutions.

2 sticks margarine, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar
1 c. creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. old fashioned oats
1 (12 oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the margarine, sugars and peanut butter until light and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and oatmeal; stir into creamed mixture until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.


Barb’s Super Sugar Cookies

Source: Barb Fenstermacher, my mom

You can use colored, granulated sugar for the tops as well. I’ve also mixed a bit of cinnamon with the sugar for the topping for something different.

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream butter, shortening and sugars together. Add slightly beaten egg and vanilla. In another bowl, sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture until well blended. Roll dough into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Before baking, dip a small flat-bottomed glass in granulated sugar and lightly flatten the cookie balls. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool.


10 tips for the perfect cookies

1. Unless otherwise specified, most recipes that call for an egg should be made with a “large” egg. Eggs from farm chickens vary in size so you may wish to measure 3.25 tablespoon.

2. When you place cookie dough onto the baking sheet, leave 2 to 3 inches between them to allow for hot oven air to circulate around each cookie for more even baking and to allow for the dough to spread.

3. If you’re cooking with margarine, be sure it contains at least 80 percent vegetable oil. If the content is below 80 percent, your cookies make be tough, stick to the pan and don’t brown well.

4. Choose shiny, heavy-gauge cookie sheets with very low sides or no sides. Avoid dark cookies or your cookies may overbrown. Parchment paper is worth the investment for baking and cleanup.

5. If a recipe calls for butter, select the unsalted variety. Same goes with nuts if your recipe calls for them.

6. Most recipes that call for flour actually mean all-purpose flour. To measure, gently spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level with a knife. Do not sift unless the recipe specifically calls for that.

7. Quality ingredients produce a quality cookie. When a recipe calls for vanilla or almond flavoring, be sure to use high-quality extract. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract is worth the investment.

8. Chilling the dough for at least 20 minutes before baking will produce a cookie that has a nice shape.

9. Allow your cookie baking pans to cool between batches—even if you’re in a hurry! Your cookies will spread from the slight heat in the pan before they have time to set. Your result will likely be a burnt, crunchy cookie.

10. Once completely cool, store cookies in an airtight container. Do not mix cookie types in a container. If you cookies lose their softness, toss in a slice of white bread overnight.

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