We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cookie Recipe #52 - Cinnamon Animal Crackers

These are similar to the animal crackers you begged for in the grocery store when you were little-whether you really liked the cookies or you just wanted the box they came in. They almost taste like graham crackers with a slight, not over-powering cinnamon flavor. The recipe suggests you use 1-1 1/2 inch cookie cutters, but you can also use bigger ones, just bake a couple minutes longer.

Ingredients: 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, frozen, 3 tablespoons whole milk, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, raw sugar for sprinkling, assorted 1 -1 1/2 inch animal-shaped cookie cutters. (I didn't freeze my butter, but took it directly out of a cold refrigerator-worked fine; I also used 2% milk rather than whole.)

Instructions: Place the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (I used my hand mixer.) In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, honey and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and pulse until the dough begins to come together. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours (or up to 3 days). (I left my dough right in the bowl I mixed it in, covered it with plastic wrap and chilled-me and the dough!).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (not necessary for non-sticking ones). On lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough with a floured rolling pin to an 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies with flour-dipped cutters and arrange on baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining scraps of dough. Sprinkle cookies with raw sugar (or sprinkles) and pop into the oven. Bake about 5 minutes, longer for bigger cookies. Cookies should be slightly puffed and lightly browned and still soft. Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely; cookies harden as they cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes 6-7 dozen depending on size of cutters.

(The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2002)

Cookies Rule!!!

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