Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The best damn cookie you ever ate

i believe that. really.

the now annual berryhill bake-off took place a few weeks ago at school, and after having placed third in the competition two years ago with these yummy lemon-coconut-saffron beauties, i decided to enter this year.  not too long ago, i tested a recipe for cream cheese cookies, and when they came out tasting like a rainbow on my tongue, my mind ran wild with flavor combinations to enhance it.

apparently i’ve got a thing for lemon, too, cause that’s what i made.

first, you make a lemon-tinted cream cheese cookie dough. then plop them on a baking sheet. you’re not supposed to crowd, but sometimes these things can’t be helped.

Lemon Cookies with Basil White Choco - BTG-011
next, you bake them just the right amount. till the tips and the edges set in an ever so golden color, and the bottoms just begin to brown.

Lemon Cookies with Basil White Choco - BTG-012
after you've “tested one,” let the rest cool and get started on that basil white chocolate ganache. holy mouth pleaser.

Lemon Cookies with Basil White Choco - BTG-014
now dip your cookies. and try not to lick the drippings.

Lemon Cookies with Basil White Choco - BTG-013
then, if you’re catering to a crowd of judges, slice ‘n serve. feel free to eat ten first if you’d like.

Lemon Cookies with Basil White Choco - BTG-002
i know i said to forget about them, but i couldn’t let the ganache drippings go. guess where this went? answer: my belly.

Lemon Cookies with Basil White Choco - BTG-010
now get it in your belly too!

lemon cream cheese cookies (makes about 40 2-inch rounds)
adapted from merrill

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
6 oz plain cream cheese
2 cups white sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp lemon extract (optional, for super lemon flavor)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
  1. in a stand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy – this will take several minutes. this can be done with a hand mixer too, if you’re patient enough.
  2. whip in the zest and lemon extract towards the end.
  3. on low-medium speed, mix in the flour and salt until just incorporated. you may need to scrape down the sides a bit and stir it by hand, but DO NOT over-mix.
  4. using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop tablespoon-size balls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. bake at 350F for about 17 minutes or so – but keep an eye on them. the original recipe called for 12 minutes of baking, but mine were no where near done at that time. one of my previous batches baked for 22 minutes. you’ll know when they’re done when you see the the edges start to firm up and turn a light golden brown color. if you pull them out too early, they won’t set, but if you bake them too long, they won’t be as chewy and gooey in the middle.
  5. after removing from the oven, allow the cookies to cool for five minutes on the pan before moving them to a cooling rack. cool completely before frosting with ganache (below).
basil white chocolate ganache (makes plenty. enough for extra to use as bread. i mean… spread… for bread.)

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 oz basil leaves (about 1/2 bunch)
12 oz white chocolate chips
  1. over the stove on low heat, steep the basil leaves in the cream. you don't want this to come to a boil, just let it sit steeping for several minutes while it's nice and warm. 
  2. empty the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. pour the cream over the chocolate, straining the basil leaves in a sieve. let stand for a few minutes, then stir until all the chocolate is melted. allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  3. you can either drizzle or dip your cookies into your ganache – i find dipping to be easiest. turn your cookies face down and swirl them in your ganache. lift up, allow the excess to drip into your bowl, then place the cookies face up on a cooling rack set over your baking pan (this catches any extra drip. don’t want to waste!). allow to set.
ps: no, i didn't place this year. so many good entries, including a first prize winner that included tons of booze (talk about winning over stressed out med students). i got asked for this recipe at least half a dozen times though, so i'll take that as affirmation! 

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