Friday, March 26, 2010

A contented bedtime treat


There's a restaurant in town that we used to frequent, way back before we had a baby again. Before the current recession set in. You know, the kind of place where you don't bring children and where you splurge on all the courses because you want to spend four hours looking across the table at your dining companion? For the most part, we like it because they serve up food that we can't manage to prepare at home. Gruyere custard served with handmade poppy seed crackers for starters, then confit of duck leg or bourbon pork tenderloin for an entree. They'd usually throw in a small bowl of butternut squash soup in the autumntime just because it's the perfect complement to any meal. We used to splurge on a bottle of wine since it was the only place we'd spend enough time dining to actually drink the whole bottle. It was always a good time.

For dessert, however, we always skipped their specialty of the house. They assured us it was made to order and delectable. We believed them. But the amazing dessert they urged us over and over to try was something we knew we could master just as well at home...and that we'd enjoy it far more at home. The masterpiece? A plate of freshly baked, warm cookies with two cups of warm milk.

Yes, baked cookies are a mainstay at our humble abode. Right now we have gingerbread men and triple chocolate chip cookies in stock. When I was younger, I was all for scarfing them down without discretion at any time of the day. It was my husband who taught me the fine art of savoring one or two along with a warm cup of milk before bedtime. It helps calm your body right before sleep and gives you a moment to be still and reflect.

Warm milk is easy; just put about 6 ounces in a coffee cup and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds on 20% power. For the cookies, I'll share a recipe. Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. This one is a bit labor more intensive than simple stuff, so try this when you want to enjoy time baking. The result is worth it! I didn't invent the recipe, though I can't remember where I found it. (I'm betting it's Martha Stewart for all the many, detailed steps.) If someone recognizes it and would like me to credit it, please let me know and I'll edit the post!

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Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

7 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (like chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. boiling water
2 tbsp. water
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1) Line baking sheet(s) with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4" chunks, set aside. (Or alternatively, use 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips and set aside.) In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa powder.

2) In a bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter until softened, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.

3) In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into batter mixture. Beat in baking soda-mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough firms. Mix in chocolate; turn out on a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1" thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

4) Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls; place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake about 12-13 minutes; take out of oven and press flat; bake 3 minutes longer; let cool 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Enjoy, and sleep tight.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I have never been to a restaurant like you describe. (I might be a redneck) Those places sort of scare me.