Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chaos, Cookies and Creativity...

When life dishes up chaos I often procrastinate by piling another dish with cookies... and other culinary items all while crafting... perched on the floor of Kasa K.  

Top ways to tell when my plate runneth over... 
1- You find me sitting on the floor, a lot.  Often quite.  Old school Indian Style.  There is something grounding about this position.

2- I start inviting you over for dinner and gifting you baked items.  Almost daily.   (Now I see why I was writing so much in the blog circa 3 years ago.)

3- My best ideas revolve around paper products, beads or books that I want to write.

What is it about chaos that brings creativity (and often in my case, chicken)?  I read once that artist need to be in a depressed emotional state to create their best work so does my best work come from high levels of anxiety and stress?  So far this week, I made two entrees, one soup and two types of cookies.  Oh yes, and I made a pair of earrings, holiday cards, visited a knitting shop and I am signed first pottery class. (And am currently typing while sitting on my floor).  

In efforts for my creative outburst to be more productive (than adding to my calorie count), here are the recipes from this week's sweet items of procrastination:

Caught between two deadlines Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate

Makes 12-18  cookies, depending on how much dough is consumed in the process
(On December 8, 2010 there were 11 cookies created)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt or 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup  walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

Adjust the oven rack to the top third of the oven and preheat to 300F (150C). Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.
Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (5cm) balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Save the Work for Tomorrow Snickerdoodle Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400°, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine. At this point, I chilled the dough for an hour (or you can overnight) before scooping it, because I otherwise found it too difficult to scoop into balls and roll but the original recipe doesn’t find this step necessary.

Once dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small ice-cream scoop* to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after five minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about five minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. In theory, they can be stored in an airtight container up to one week, but I say good luck wtih that.

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