We mentioned yesterday that we generally don’t make cookies as treats for other people, unless they’re special and unusual in some way (the cookies, not the people). As with today’s cookie post. Have you ever heard of cookies with caraway seeds? Well, you might have, but they’re news to us. Naturally, with the desire to make treats for our fellow volunteers this past Monday, they were immediately on the short list.
This is another recipe from Baking with the Brass Sisters, by Marilyn Brass and Shelia Brass, and it seemed so unusual that we had to try it. Now, we didn’t change the recipe any, but we did alter the technique for making the cookies, and we think, humbly, that it’s for the better. Don’t worry, here at Scratchin’ It, we’ll let you know our changes.
Butter, as always for baking (and cooking), should be unsalted. Why would you let a factory decide how salty your food is? They aren’t going to eat it, so they shouldn’t be “helping” by adding salt. For the caraway seeds: we know that grocery store spices can be expen$ive, so we recommend buying them either at an ethnic market, or, if you have one close by or don’t mind mail order, Penzey’s Spices. We only say that because that’s where we get our spices and think they have great deals.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or baking parchment.
Mix dry ingredients. This is another recipe where the dry ingredients will be barely mixed in towards the end. That means you want to distribute all the dry ingredients throughout the flour. Nobody likes to hit a cookie that has a clump of baking soda in the middle, right? So, place the flour, baking soda, salt, and caraway seeds in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. We used a spoon this time, but we often use a whisk.
Cream butter. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium until glossy and smooth. If your butter is properly warmed, it’ll take about a minute, or even less. If it takes longer, let the butter warm for about 30 minutes more and try again.
Add sugar. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar. We like to add it about as fast as it gets incorporated. With granulated sugar, there’s less chance of the Vesuvius effect, but why take the risk? Once the sugar is incorporated, beat the mixture until it’s light and fluffy, and pale in color, about 5 minutes.
Add dry ingredients and milk. Add the flour mixture and milk the same way you would for a cake: half the dry ingredients, barely mix in, half the milk, barely mix in, remaining dry ingredients, barely mix, and remaining milk, and barely mix to finish the dough. After adding an ingredient, it should only take about 15 seconds of mixing to incorporate, and, of course, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Transfer to piping bag. This was our idea and we think it made the cookies easier to shape. The original recipe said to drop the dough by rounded teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets, but this dough seemed too soft to be able to do so cleanly and accurately, so we figured, let’s pipe it. We transferred all the dough to an 18-inch disposable bag fitted with a 3/8-inch star tip, and we were set. If you don’t have a piping bag (you can use a Ziploc-type bag with a corner cut off), you can try the teaspoon method. We used a star tip in the hopes that some of the fluting would be visible on the finished cookies.
Pipe. Now simply pipe about a teaspoon of dough onto the prepared sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between the cookies. They will spread considerably, so the space is really needed.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake until the cookies are golden brown all over, rotating top to bottom and front to back halfway through, about 20-22 minutes. You’ll be tempted to take the cookies out when the edges start browning, but don’t. We did, so we know that those cookies will not be crisp and will seem as if they’re stale. So, let them brown completely for nice crisp cookies.
Cool. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
We loved these cookies! Make sure to bake them until they’re golden brown all across the surface. When they cool, they’ll crisp up nicely and taste great. We had some come out too light, and they turned a bit soft; we didn’t care for that. We just popped them back into the oven for a few minutes more and they were perfect. The flavor is great. You can taste the caraway flavor, but it’s not overwhelming; instead, it’s more like a flavor that you can’t quite place. You think, perhaps anise, perhaps something else, but you never expect caraway in cookies, which, to us, makes for a great treat. Five lightly-browned stars.