Lately, I've been reading Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio with a lot of interest.
See, I wish I could storm into a random apartment and shout "Hey! You would all be happier with a slice of cake!", and then start baking up a storm. Just like that.
More often than not, I turn to recipes. New or tried-and-true, they serve as a guide to make sure I know where I'm going. For some things like cookies, or quiche, I don't use recipes any longer, but that isn't the majority of my baking. Now, if I were to learn all the Ruhlman ratios by heart, I could finally live out my Extreme Makeover: Baking Edition of spontaneous cake production...right?
Let's start out with the basics: the 1-2-3 cookie. Ruhlman explains that by using the ratio of 1 part sugar to 2 parts fat and 3 parts flour, you get a pretty nice cookie. A crisp, buttery cookie: sounds nice, right?
However, as a person who used to wear three watches at once when she was four years old, I couldn't leave it at that. I wanted chocolate peppermint cookies, coated in chocolate. The "keep it simple" thing never really worked for me.
I did follow the Ruhlman ratio, though, but substituted a quarter of the flour for cocoa powder and added a few drops of peppermint extract. As much as I tried with my bare hands, I couldn't get the dough to come together. It was dry and didn't stick...not really an ideal cookie dough. I added two tablespoons of milk, and finally had what I wanted. After a quick chill and slice, I baked the cookies and coated them in melted chocolate mixed with a tablespoon of butter. I would have sprinkled the cookies with multicolored non-pareils (what a funny word, right?), but I'd already gone far enough with the customization.
Given the choice between a chewy chocolate chip cookie with eggs in the dough and this easy-peasy 1-2-3 cookie, I'll admit I might choose the chewy ones sometime. But these cookies are satisfying in their simplicity and clean, buttery taste. They're nice on their own, but can also be a great base for sandwich cookies.
Now that opens up another world of possibilities. I think I'm on the right track to successfully barging into strangers' homes to whip up an array of baked goods. Thanks, Michael! Plus, with my three watches, you can be sure I'll be right on time. They might not let the crazy in, though.
Chocolate-Peppermint 1-2-3 Cookie
Note: The best way to proceed with the Ratio recipes is to weigh your ingredients--a kitchen scale is always a great tool to have!
1 part granulated sugar
2 parts butter, softened
3 parts dry ingredients: 3/4 all-purpose flour, 1/4 cocoa powder
a few drops of peppermint extract
for each part butter, 1 TB milk
Cream butter and sugar. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. If needed, stir in milk to obtain a ball of dough.
Chill dough in a log.
When ready to use, preheat oven to 350°F / 185°C. Cut dough into slices and bake approximately ten minutes.
Coat with melted chocolate (with a little bit of butter), if desired. Place on parchment paper to cool and set.