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Vanilla Toffee Cookies

Feb
20


Those look good, don’t they?

There was this time, years ago, that I made fun of Alton Brown for weighing cake batter (to make perfectly even cake layers).

Yeah.

So I admit that I weigh cake batter, cookie dough, bread dough, all kinds of things now. But I have an excuse! It’s because I started selling these items and when you promise, for example, a certain number of cookies and a certain weight, then you start going all Alton Brown about it. And I have to admit also that if everything you put in the oven together is the same size then everything bakes properly in the same amount of time.

I’m a weird combination of total perfectionism and very non-anal retentive, so there’s part of me that likes this and part of me that’s, like, how ridiculous. If I’m just baking for myself, I don’t even like to measure ingredients! I don’t like to give people a recipe (beforehand) when I’m teaching breadbaking. Me: “I want you to get a feel for the dough. Just pour some yeast into your hand, some sugar, start adding the flour, get to know how your dough should feel.” Though I always give them a recipe afterward.

Anyway! Here’s an ACTUAL recipe, with measurements, though you don’t really have to weigh the cookie dough, honest! (If you want to weigh them, an ounce is a good size. But you can forget I said that if you want.)

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How to make Vanilla Toffee Cookies:

1 cup butter (or margarine if you insist)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (or a dollop, you know)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
1 12-ounce package vanilla baking chips
1/2 cup toffee bit (Heath Bar bits)

Mix together butter and sugar; add the eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, then stir in the flour a cup at a time until you’ve got it all mixed well. Gently stir in the vanilla chips and toffee bits.

Chill the dough for at least an hour–it’s so much easier to work with cold. Shape dough into balls then roll in sugar. (Because. We always need more sugar. You can skip this step if you want.)

Chill again, at least one hour, more is better. If you’re in a hurry, put the cookie balls in the freezer for about half an hour. Cold dough holds shape better in the oven.

Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes about 3 dozen, depending on size.

This cookie is a uniquely different and delicious twist on the average chocolate chip cookie (it’s a chocolate chip cookie-based type dough), and all I can say is that these went FAST around here!

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.
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The Difference Between Scones and Biscuits

Dec
30

I love biscuits. Seriously. I love Southern-style biscuits made with butter and soft self-rising flour. I love Northern-style biscuits, the type of biscuits my mother with her English roots taught me to make when I was 9 years old. And I love scones, which are not biscuits, though they are often confused as an English-style biscuit. And I suppose you could get away with saying that, but really, they aren’t biscuits!

From the time I was a child, I was fascinated, nigh upon obsessed, with all things English, from medieval castles to kings to, yes, scones. The magical scones of all the English literature I inhaled through my teenage years and into my college degree in medieval British literature. Tea and scones. Try to find a figure in English literature that isn’t at some point sitting down to tea and scones. With jam. And clotted cream!!!! I was so obsessed with consuming this delightful treat myself that it was an absolute must when I visited England ten years ago. I was not leaving without sitting down to some genuine English tea and scones, not to mention the clotted cream.
scones
Here is the plate of tea and scones and jam and clotted cream I sat down to one day at a tea shop in the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset.
cerneabbas
What are scones? In America, we tend to think they’re biscuits. They look similar to biscuits, but they are NOT biscuits, especially not Southern Biscuits made with soft southern flour and heavy on the butter for the flaky texture. They’re closer to Northern Biscuits, made from hard northern flour with less butter and a more crumbly texture, due to the similarity in the type of wheat used in both scones and Northern Biscuits. But in the case of scones, while they also contain less butter than Southern Biscuits, they’re still rich, that richness coming out of the egg in the batter, setting them apart from any traditional American biscuit at all.
img_9706
The scones I make are just like the scones from the village in Cerne Abbas–rich, crumbly but soft, made with a hard northern flour, butter, baking powder, sugar, salt, milk, and egg. You can get ’em without going to Cerne Abbas–though I can’t help you with the clotted cream, sorry! (I have a cow, so I have clotted cream, heh.) Traditionally, they are most commonly made plain or with currants. Currants are not raisins, by the way, anymore than scones are biscuits! True currants are black currants, not the Zante currants commonly sold as currants. (Check the label!)

Here’s how I make ’em.
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How to make English-Style Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour (not a Southern brand)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
milk

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg, add to dry ingredients, gradually add milk until dough clings together, wet but not soppy! Roll out on a floured surface. Cut in triangles. Bake on a greased baking sheet at 450-degrees until browned, about 10 minutes. Call the cow for some clotted cream!

Ha.

You can also get ’em in my Etsy shop! I sell them plain, or with traditional currants, as well as in about two dozen out-of-the-box varieties from beer cheddar to pineapple coconut! Get ’em on Etsy here.

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