Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cookies for Care Packages

Sending home-baked goodies to troops in the Middle East is tricky right now because of the intense heat there. Our son-in-law, who is in the Air Force in Iraq, says not to send chocolate because it will melt. Of course, that was a challenge that I couldn't ignore.

Once when I was in the American Southwest desert, we were hiking and when we returned to the Jeep, we found that we had left a zippy bag full of white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies lying in the sun. To our delight, the white chocolate chips were soft but intact and the cookies had that just-out-of-the-oven taste and texture! Wow....the heat could actually be to my advantage because he would be getting cookies that would be as good as if he were in my kitchen!

The next consideration besides affects of heat is the texture itself. They have to stand up to being thrown around in transit; what I didn't want was for him to open a box to find nothing but crumbs. The cookies would have to be dense but still tender and a bit crisp but not too delicate. And I did want to use real dark chocolate because, well, there is just nothing like chocolate to give you that sense of well-being! Here is the recipe I came up with. I sent them yesterday packaged in disposable plastic bins in a box full of magazines, and I doubled the recipe so that he can share both the magazines and the cookies with his troops. I'll let you know what he says when they arrive.

Death by Chocolate Cookies

1 pkg. (8 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
1/2 – 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (start with 1/2 c. and add more as needed)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans, macadamias, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
1/2 c. dried cherries or cranberries

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a large microwavable bowl in microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  • Stir in the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and then stir in the white chocolate, fruit and nuts. (The batter will stiffen as it sits.)
  • Drop by spoonfuls (I use a one-ounce scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets or preheated baking stones (that's what I use).
  • Bake for 14 minutes or so until just firm on the edges but slightly soft on the top. These cookies are very dark so make sure you don't burn them.
  • Remove from oven and cool cookies on wire racks.
  • Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size spoon you use.

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