For my first post of the new year, I am going to wrap up the remainder of business from the last: my Miso Awesome Cookies!
Come to think of it, this post should actually be called:
Dr. Daisy or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cookie
When I entered the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown last month, my first thought was to make a truly trashy cookie packed with milk chocolate chips and Fritos. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Then Dave C. suggested the combination of dark chocolate and nori. Suddenly, the vision of an Asian cookie coalesced in my mind. I was unable to get the idea of an umami-amped chocolate chip cookie out of my head.
I went to the Japanese market that weekend and got shredded nori and white miso. I added them to a chocolate chip cookie recipe for which I swapped out the walnuts for soy sauce-roasted almonds. Et voilà!
I made inedible choco-chip seaweed hockey pucks
That was my first attempt at baking cookies for the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown, one of nine.
Yes, dear Readers, it took me nine test batches to get the hang of this whole cookie business because I am really not a very good baker or cookie maker
Actually, before the Takedown, I always took a pass on baking cookies because I was so bad at it! Once, I made a delicious double-chocolate chip cookie by accident. Unfortunately, in my excitement, I didn’t take notes on what I did. That experience will sadly never be replicated.
These are some of the reasons why almost all my cookie efforts prior to the Takedown did not work out:
• I never let the butter soften. That meant that whenever I tried to properly cream it, I would end up with butter blobs on the wall, on my glasses, in my hair, and sugar all over the floor.
• I never sifted the dry ingredients together because I was too lazy. I also never learned how to properly measure flour.
• I chronically overbaked because I could never shake the feeling that cookies had to be nice and golden on top. It works for chicken, why not cookies?!
• I would just use one cookie sheet, which meant that I was baking forever. Furthermore, I never let the sheet cool down before I plunked more cookie dough on top of it.
How did I improve?
After test batch #5, I decided to finally do it right. I started by hitting the cookbooks.
Here’s what I learned:
• Suck it up and sift You don’t need to buy a fancy sifter, just a mesh strainer and a sheet of wax paper will do. You would never think it makes much of a difference, but it does.
• Instead of measuring flour by volume, weigh it. According to Cook’s Illustrated, one cup of all-purpose flour should weigh about 5 ounces.
• Cut cold, hard butter into small cubes. The butter will soften faster that way.
• Don’t overwork the butter. The longer you cream the butter and sugars together, the more air you beat into the fat. The more air that you have in your fat, the more your cookies will spread out while baking.
• Eggs blend better when they are at room temperature.
• Ideally, you should let your dough rest overnight in the refrigerator. Barring that, at least let the dough chill completely, about 3 hours. Properly chilled dough also helps ensure that your cookies don’t spread out too much.
• Do not overwork the flour. The longer you take combining the wet and the dry ingredients together, the tougher your cookies will be.
• Never arrange cookie dough on hot cookie sheets. The cookies will begin cooking on contact. Not. Good.
• Work with a minimum of 2 cookie sheets, that way you can have one cooling down while the other one is in the oven. To have four sheets is ideal because you can have two sheets cooling while two are baking in the oven.
• If you check the cookies and think that maybe you should leave them in a little longer, override your instinct and pull them out of the oven! They will continue to cook on their sheets for a few minutes more. (Thanks for the tip, Tomoko!)
• Like pancakes, be prepared to ruin the first batch as you adjust your baking times for your cookie size, cookie sheet material (light versus dark sheets), and oven (mine runs a little hot).
How I finally came up with my cookie recipe:
Now all this might sound elementary to you Awesome Cookie Bakers, but it was a revelation to me. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong from a technical standpoint, I made another batch of chocolate chip-nori cookies. You know what? They were disgusting! Now I know why there are no chocolate and roasted seaweed cookie recipes out there: they’re gross!
Back to the drawing board. Standing in the Japanese market again, I was trying to think about what else could go in a cookie. Wasabi peas? Why not! As wasabi is actually not a particularly strong taste, I swapped out the dark chocolate for white chocolate.
From the chocolate chip-nori hockey puck recipe, I kept the tamari almonds and the white miso paste.
From now on, I may always drop a dollop of white miso paste into my cookies. It doesn’t seem to add any noticeable miso flavor, but it definitely makes the taste of everything else in the cookie pop.
Even though this is the recipe for my not-award-winning cookies, I still feel like I won because I learned so much. I overcame my fear of baking, and I came up with something crazy that was also delicious!
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
2 sticks of butter (16 tablespoons), cut into cubes and at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of white granulated sugar
2/3 cup of light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of white miso paste
4 teaspoons of wasabi paste
8 ounces of white chocolate chips
8 ounces of tamari almonds, roughly chopped
8-9 ounces of wasabi peas
How to prepare:
1. Sift together the dry ingredients.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and the sugars together for no more than one minute.
3. Beat the eggs, one at a time, into the creamed butter-sugar mixture. Add the vanilla, the miso and wasabi pastes. Continue beating for another minute or two.
4. Using a stiff spatula, fold in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time.
5. Once all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, fold in the white chocolate chips, the chopped almonds, and the wasabi peas. Once the all the goodies are evenly distributed throughout the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you can.
6. If your heating element is on the bottom of your oven, move the oven racks to the top of it. Pre-heat the oven to 325°.
7. I used a melon baller to make smaller cookies for the competition, but if you want larger cookies, use a tablespoon or a small scoop. Drop the balls of dough about two inches apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
8. Bake the cookies for 4 minutes. Rotate the sheets 180°, moving the top cookie sheet to the lower rack, and the bottom cookie sheet to the upper rack. Bake the cookies for another 4 minutes. If your cookies are larger, you may need to bake them for a little longer. When the cookies are done, they should be just barely golden around the edges. The centers should be soft, but not raw. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them rest on the cookie sheet (they will continue to cook) for a minute or two before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.