Sometimes, You Just Have To Make Cookies….

Try as I might to be a good Mom, and feed wholesome, nutritous food to myself and my family, I have discovered that sometimes, you just have to make a batch of cookies.

Sometimes, that is just all that will do to quell the cravings of the teenager who comes home, hugs me and says, “Mom, can we bake cookies tonight?” ( I am also firmly of the belief that much of the pleasure in cookies rests in the making of them, particularly when this is a social, bonding sort of event between friends and family members.)

Do I really want cookies sitting around the house?

No.

But, on the other hand, neither do I want to turn cookies into a forbidden substance which are then made all the more alluring by virtue of them being frowned upon as an unallowable vice. (And, besides, I am grateful that my daughter wants to do stuff with me–that is not the case with all daughters and mothers.)

So, sometimes, cookies just want to be made, need to be made, and must be made.

But which cookies?

We discovered something last night.

When one is hungry, every cookie recipe in the cookbook looks and sounds like the best thing on earth. The only thing that would make them better is for them to grow effortlessly upon a tree in the front yard, with an endless fountain of milk alongside. Even cookies filled with ingredients that one does not care for, such as raisins, sweetened flaked coconut and carob, are made endlessly appealing through the simple application of hunger and good food photography.

Brownies were the first choice.

Specifically my Aztec Gold Brownies which are flavored with a great deal of dark chocolate, espresso powder, cinnamon and ground chipotle pepper.

However, I didn’t feel like making those, and no other brownies appealed to Morganna, because as she said, “I don’t really want something chocolately.”

When I pointed out the obvious contradiction of her position (“I want Aztec Gold Brownies, but I don’t want anything chocolatey”), she defended herself by saying that Aztec Gold Brownies were anything but “just chocolatey.” They are also bitter, sweet, spicy and hot, in addition to chocolately, with the chocolate somehow coming in last among all of the flavors, even though it is a dominant ingredients.

There is no logic when it comes to deciding on what cookie it is that will feed a craving, so I gave up on trying to understand my child’s taste. To me, the brownies are indeed chocolately, but with a complex series of flavors mixed into them, which adds depth and drama to what looks like a plain old brownie.

Back to the difficult decision on what cookies to make.

Snickerdoodles were rejected out of hand, because Morganna doesn’t much care for them, even if I haven’t blogged about them yet and they are an important bit of family history passed down from her great-great Grandma Fisher. She suggested the Aphrodite Cakes, but I refused on the grounds that by the time I had made them, cooled them and iced them, she would be long abed and asleep, and then Zak would eat them all before morning, and she would get none.

This was not pleasing to her. (I cannot imagine why.)

Then she said she wanted spice cookies, and I instantly thought oatmeal cookies with spices would be good, but no, she was not into that.

We looked in the cookbooks at our disposal (many), and Morganna came to the conclusion that too many things sounded good for her to make a decision.

There was nothing for it.

Only one cookie would do. Only one cookie could come to the rescue in this turbulent trying time:

Coyote Chip Cookies.

No, you don’t make them out of coyote droppings.

Nor is it necessary, when setting out to make a batch, for the cook to “catch a coyote, and put it through a chipper-shredder” in order to make “coyote chips.”

No, no, nothing like that. (Besides, chipper shredders are much better at making salads than cookies….)

The fanciful name came from a reader, who, when I described these cookies on an lj community, who said, “You have to call them, “Coyote Cookies,” because they are so chaotic and they have everything in them.” Coyote, of course, is a Trickster in many Native American cultures, and these cookies are tricksters, too. Are they chocolate chip cookies? Or spice cookies? (Or, if I had my way, are they oatmeal cookies?) What all do I taste in here?

A good thought, I decided, for indeed, there is some of everything in them, and the flavors swirl together in a complex dance of texture and taste on the tongue. There is chocolate, coffee, almonds, toffee, spices and other good things in there.

(There would be more of everything, but Morganna vetoed my desire to put rolled oats in for extra chew and nutritional value. I think I may sneak them in next time after all, because I think that the cookies could be improved with just a bit of extra chewiy-chompiness.)

The recipe is based on the good old, tried and true, Nestle Tollhouse Cookie recipe that is ubiquitous, but after the basic dough is constructed, my recipe diverges wildly on flavorings and add-ins, such that the cookies become a veritable chewy, crunchy, sweet, and spicy storm of little bites.

So, without further ado, here is a cookie recipe for those times when you just have to make cookies, but you aren’t sure what kind to make….

Coyote Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold from the fridge–not softened (This keeps them chewier and denser)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon double strength vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup cinnamon morsels
1/2 cup toffee chips
1/2 cup rolled oats (optional)
1 12 ounce package milk chocolate morsels

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating thoroughly between additions, until all flour is used.

Mix in almonds, cinnamon chips, toffee bits, oats and chocolate chips, either by hand or with the mixer, depending on how well your mixer tolerates very stiff doughs.

Scoop with a small cookie scoop onto cookie sheets lined with silpats, and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to sit on sheets for three minutes, then remove to racks to finish cooling.

Of course, I am wondering how I can improve these cookies. What else can be added to the trickster-chaos? No one in the household likes sweetened flaked coconut, but I wonder if I could get away with plain old dehydrated coconut? What about some sort of fruit, or would that clash utterly with the chocolate? (Bananas, perhaps? Or apricots, for indeed, they are high in iron….)

Ooh–I know! Dried sour cherries! They go with chocolate! And almonds, coffee, spices and toffee!

The fun never ends.

19 Comments

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  1. The description of your Aztec Gold brownies produced simultaneous moans of desire from my housemates.

    Comment by tjewell — April 21, 2006 #

  2. When you say “espresso powder”, is that fresh finely ground coffee, or instant espresso (or something else)?

    My family’s favorite cookies (okay, I don’t have any kids, so it would be my husband’s favorite cookies with my additions) are based on the Quaker Oatmeal cookies which are his mother’s default. We found we like adding nutmeg in addition to the cinnamon, chocolate chips, and walnuts (or pecans). One batch we made seemed to have too much “stuff” for the cookies to flatten, but the next time I substituted all whole-wheat pastry flour for the AP, and they were flatter (and more wholesome…if cookies can be wholesome). I later read somewhere (Cook’s Illustrated?) that that is the effect that whole-wheat pastry flour has on cookies – less structure to hold them up.

    Comment by Kim — April 21, 2006 #

  3. TJ–My friends and family tell me I should never give the secret to the Aztec Gold Brownies away. I don’t know if they think I am going to open a bakery based on one recipe or start a mail-order business or what with them (though that mail order thing is a thought), but they have threatened me with all sorts of dire punishments if I were to give that recipe away.

    Oh, well.

    Perhaps in a cookbook….

    Kim–

    Espresso powder is instant espresso. I tried using ground up espresso beans and they are instanasty in cookies. They just leave a gritty feeling on the teeth and tongue and it is not appetizing. It took me a while to find instant espresso , but you can order it online and you can get it, at all places, at World Market in their food section.

    See–I don’t really like my cookies to flatten all the way. If you use softened butter in this recipe, they will be flatter–but if you use it cold, as I direct, they are a bit denser and chewier. Which I like.

    Comment by Barbara — April 21, 2006 #

  4. Fair enough. Thank you!

    Comment by tjewell — April 21, 2006 #

  5. hmmmm – (thinking of what would make a good bribe for aztec gold brownie recipe).

    When desperate I have ground coffee beans to the fine grind for Turkish coffee. All anyone noticed was the coffee flavor.

    I vote with you Barbara – oats would be great.

    Comment by Maureen — April 21, 2006 #

  6. Holy Toledo, I vote for adding oats and a cookie party swap. I’d like a dozen of each, please and the recipe for the aztec gold brownies! Still, the best, sweetest and most savory part about your post are about your time and relationship with your daughter. Savor them deeply! Beautiful!

    Comment by tanna — April 22, 2006 #

  7. Wow, both the aztec brownies and the coyote cookies sound yummy!

    Comment by Ilene — April 22, 2006 #

  8. So my mother has always used crisco in her cookies and I have always sworn that they taste better than cookies made with butter. Of course LARD will make anything (vegetable based or not) better right? Aside from the obvious health disadvantages of crisco over butter, what in your opinion would be the pros and cons of it? I do notice that her cookies, while heaven straight out of the oven, do become crispy once they cool. We always just nuke em in the microwave to solve that.

    Comment by Benjamin — April 23, 2006 #

  9. just noticed that you had cut your slipat into two. good idea! i am still wondering what to do with my huge one (a friend gave it to me). but won’t it tear at the sides?

    Comment by rokh — April 23, 2006 #

  10. Ben–no one in my family ever used Crisco in cookies. My mother used margerine, and my Gram used butter. When I was old enough to take over all cookie baking duties at home (about twelve), I insisted on butter, because Gram’s cookies always tasted better. The artificial butter flavor from the marjarine always hit in the back of my throat and I could taste it every time. The texture was crispier, too. (For some cookies, and for some people, crispy is fine–but I prefer chewy to crispy, unless I am eating tuiles or florentines or some such.)

    Now, my Mom’s mother, Grandma, used either margerine or real hog lard, and I could tell the difference there, too. The flavor of the lard added significantly to the flavor profile of the cookies–as real lard will do. The margarine–interestingly, she used tub margerine that was soft, and so you got chewier cookies, and in one particular cookie she made, the flavor was inobtrusive. Those were the cookies that she made with black walnuts–and frankly–I don’t think margerine could overpower the taste of black walnuts, they are so strong. They were among my favorite cookies–and she never, that we know of, wrote that recipe down.

    The scent of them, however, was heavenly. They were soft on the inside, and chewy-crispy on the edges, and redolent with the scent and flavor of the chopped black walnuts. Wonderful cookies.

    As for using Crisco–I would never have do it. I just don’t like the stuff.

    The textural difference is key in the use of Crisco or lard–these are pure fats, while butter has milk solids and water in it. To get a cookie that is more similar in texture to Crisco or lard, use a European style higher-fat content butter like Plugra for baking, and you will see a difference.

    I would use lard, for the flavor, but only in certain cookies. Chinese almond cookies, for example, must be made of lard. They become flaky, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth good–remember, lard melts at body temperature. Besides the lard flavor goes great with almonds.

    But I think that my prejudices against Crisco–for its health problems and its lack of inherent flavor (which may be why you liked it–there was no flavor to the fat so the inherent flavors of the other ingredients shone through) would prevent me from trying it.

    Besides, I like the buttery taste–and can detect “fake butter” taste everytime, thanks to my early schooling in the flavor of butter by Gram. ;-)

    Rokh–I had to cut mine, because my ovens in the new stove are narrow, requiring narrow half sheet pans. I only had full sheet pan sized silpats, and wanted to use them, so, I used scissors to cut one in half.

    So far, six months since I did that, there has been no fraying. This is probably because the silicone fully permeates the fabric insert that gives the silpat a coherent structure.

    Comment by Barbara — April 23, 2006 #

  11. Well this article couldn’t come at a better time. I was asked (begged) to make sinfull cookies yesterday and I was hesitating about the recipe to use. Problem solved! And I have espresso powder burried somewhere in the “odd ingredients” basket.
    Some people will thank you very soon.
    Maybe I’m wicked, but you are definetly the most deliciously wicked ;-))

    Comment by Zoubida — April 24, 2006 #

  12. [...] Tigers & Strawberries » Sometimes, You Just Have To Make Cookies…. Coyote Chip cookie recipe. Chocolate chips, nuts, rolled oats, cloves? What’s not to love? (tags: baking cookies slashfood recipes) [...]

    Pingback by Erin S. O’Connor » Blog Archive » links for 2006-04-24 — April 24, 2006 #

  13. I don’t chime in very often anymore, as I don’t consider myself an incredibly educated or discriminating palate, (there IS a difference between discriminating, and just downright “picky,” which suits me much better.) But I can chime in on this:

    Our reasoning behind you not wanting to share the Aztec Gold recipe is that once you’ve had Aztec Gold, all other brownies pale in comparison.

    I’ve had brownies since the Aztec Gold ones, and they’re OK, but it’s just not the same. It’s like the dissapointment you get when watching a movie at home on a 14″ TV that just blew you away in the theater…

    So, if you try the recipe, prepare to savor them. and then give up on ever being pleased with anything you get from a bake sale ever again, (save for the warm feeling you get by helping out whatever charity the proceeds are going to.) ;-)

    And the Coyote Cookies are quite good too. Cinnamon and chocolate chips blend so well in this recipe, creating a similar spice/sweetness combination to the Aztec Gold brownies, (though on a much smaller scale.) I was fortunate enough to be present during the later stages of cookie-making between Barbara and Morganna, and watching the two of them in the kitchen together is something special, (regardless if it’s cookies, or stir-fry, or just mac and cheese!) and it comes through it the flavor of the cooking.

    All the best,

    -Dan

    Comment by Dan — April 26, 2006 #

  14. YUM! They look really good.

    Comment by Barbara (Biscuit Girl) — April 26, 2006 #

  15. Zoubida–you compliment me. I am touched. Thank you.

    Dan–you are likely right. It would not be right of me to ruin all other brownies in the world for everyone. Only for a handful of people.

    I am glad you liked the Coyote Chip Cookies–they are terribly fun to make, and simple. You should stop by and help us finish off the Raspberry Rose Crumb Bars, too. ;-)

    Barbara! The other Barbara–the incomparable Biscuit Girl! I am glad you think they sound tasty. You should give them a shot sometime–they are super easy and much more fun than regular chocolate chip cookies….

    Comment by Barbara — April 26, 2006 #

  16. They are mighty tasty! I used espresso beans ground for my espresso machine and that worked perfectly, since espresso is a super fine grind size anyway.

    I left out the cinnamon morsels, though, because I get weirded out by the artificiality of those things and butterscotch morsels. Since I left them out, I should have doubled the toffee bits, though.

    With Penzey’s super duper cinnamon and fresh ground cloves, these cookies are awesome and tasty. Next time I’ll throw in the oats and maybe add dried cranberries for acidity.

    Comment by Mark — April 27, 2006 #

  17. King Arthur Flour seem to have reorganized their website – the link in the recipe to the cinnamon chips is broken. This is the new link to the Cinnamon Mini Baking Chips: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/detail.jsp?select=C78&byCategory=C124&id=1604

    Comment by Lexica — January 21, 2008 #

  18. [...] we bake cookies tonight? tigersandstrawberries.com [...]

    Pingback by How To Bake Cookies | Pafos Photos — July 4, 2011 #

  19. [...] we bake cookies tonight? tigersandstrawberries.com [...]

    Pingback by How To Make Cookies | Pafos Photos — July 4, 2011 #

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