When it comes to down to home baking I keep it simple. The occasional show stopping cake is always fun, of course, but my everyday repertoire is a steady turnout of cookies, brownies, pies and loaf cakes. I have a few basic base recipes I tweak here and there to come up with new variations on old favorites. In this cookie, for example, I took my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and added some cinnamon for warmth and oatmeal for texture. It instantly transformed them into a new variation on one of our all-time favorite treats.
One of the tricks I employed when baking these cookies was doubling the recipe and freezing half of the dough for a later time. Since it is a cookie I know we'll be adding to our lunchbox a lot this year, it made sense to make the dough now. It will save me valuable time later on this fall when I need a sweet treat and time is tight. To help you make your everyday baking a little more efficient, here are some of the ways to streamline your efforts to yield delicious results.
Large Batch Freezing: For occasions like parties or holidays when you want to produce large batches of fresh cookies all at once, it is advantageous to double or triple a recipe and freeze the dough up to three months in advance. This will save valuable cooking time the day of the event.
To freeze large amounts of dough, form the dough into a single tight ball and wrap it completely in two layers of plastic wrap. Then wrap it in an outer layer of aluminum foil. This will ensure not an ounce of oxygen or moisture will come in contact with the dough and cause freezer burn. Put a sticker on top and mark the dough so you know what it is when you are ready to bake it. Most cookie dough freezes well for up to three months. When you are ready to bake, let the dough come to room temperature before baking as instructed by the recipe.
Small Batch Freezing: Freezing dough in individual scoops is useful when you want to produce small batches of fresh cookies at a time. Place the individual scoops of dough on a small baking sheet or tray and slide it into your freezer. Let the dough freeze for about 1 hour, or until the balls are as hard as a rock. Then place them in a marked zip top freezer bag and return them to the freezer for up to 2 months. When you are ready to bake cookies, remove the number of dough balls you wish to bake and place them on a lined cookie sheet to thaw. Bake according to instructions once the dough is slightly chilled but able to be speared through with a knife without breaking.
Refrigeration: When you need to turn out a few small trays of fresh baked cookies over the course of a week, there is no need to freeze the dough. Instead, stuff it into an airtight container like a plastic or glass jar. Make sure the container has a wide mouth so you can scoop out the dough as needed. As long as the dough is kept in the closed container, it will stay fresh for up to 10 days which should be more than enough time to use it up. To bake the cookies simply scoop out what you want to bake and follow the recipe instructions.
RECIPE: Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
Yields 4 dozen
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup oatmeal (not instant)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl whisk the flour, soda, salt and cinnamon, and set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and eggs.
Scrape down the sides of the mixer. Turn it to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture mixing only until just combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips and oatmeal with a wooden spoon.
Use a cookie dough scoop to make tablespoon sized dough balls and drop them 2-inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are crispy and the centers are set. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.