Doh! Just Freeze the Darned Cookie Dough (??)
Thanks to everyone for the great cookie tips. I'm gonna try a lot of the recipes, and I'm sure lots of onlookers have been inspired to get baking as well (let's compare notes!).
But one comment especially caught my attention. At the bottom of one recipe, it was noted that batter can be frozen or refrigerated, and so fresh batches can be baked without having to undergo the full hassle every single time.
This sounds like The Answer to me. While I was looking for a no-sweat recipe ('cuz I'm pressed for time), I wouldn't mind tackling something much more ambitious and involved if it would provide enduring cookie enjoyment. Shoot, I'll make up a triple recipe's worth, and get through the whole winter...baking off three or four cookies at a time!
So...question: can I refrigerate or freeze bits of ANY of these recipes? Or are there certain ones where this strategy wouldn't work?
Also, I just realized...I'm looking for something simple, non froufrou, and the pure distilled essence of American cookieness. I'll go through John Thorne's books and see what he's got. Not sure why I didn't start that way; maybe because I'm so used to reading them as literature rather than as anything pragmatic for my life.
You should be able to refrig. any sugar or butter cookie dough or basic drop cookie dough for a few days, after which it will start drying out; you should be able to freeze it (double-wrapped) for a month without deterioration in quality. You asked for, and got, haimish recipes--in other words, these doughs are fairly sturdy, so they can withstand refrigeration or freezing better than very delicate ones.
Have had great success freezing drop cookie dough, as well as refrigerator- and rolled-cookie dough. My rugelach dough doesn't do so well when frozen for long periods of time though (even though chilling is part of the filling process). Sharon Herbst, the author of the fabulous -Food Lover's Tiptionary-, writes that most doughs can last for up to a year if wrapped airtight and thawed before baking.
Her suggestion for freezing cookie dough is to drop it onto a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer the dough drops to freezer-proof wrapping (whatever that is...I never use it, just put everything in Tupperware). Place frozen dough on cookie sheet, cover w/wax paper and thaw. Refrigerator logs require more time thawing before slicing. Frozen toll house cookie dough makes good cookies but is delicious raw and eaten straight from the freezer (standing up).
You can of course freeze already baked cookies for about 4-6 months if you have the willpower to wait and see if they get freezer burn instead.
If you like them with icing, frost them after freezing and defrosting dough, otherwise you have to freeze them individually on a pan, -then- store them together.
The Tiptionary is pretty nifty--she's got about 100 tips on mixing and forming dough; using the right baking sheets and pans; baking and cooling; storing; and giving or mailing.
Thanks, that's great Alison.
Herbst also wrote the Food Lover's Companion for Barron's, which is an essential work which we recommend on our Chowbooks page (link below).
if you don't mind, I'll throw your recco of the Tiptionary on that page, too, tonight
Jim, Here's my basic plain cookie offering. It's from a 1934 WKY radio cooking booklet of "Aunt Susan"'s. a compilation of her recipies called "Long Lost Recipies of Aunt Susan" is c. Patricia V. MacDonald, Hot Springs Ark. A few changes, but basically her recipe. Many people of my generation thought "Aunt Susan" was a long deceased family member before we learned it was someone with a column and radio show in the 30's - but our grandmother's all collected her recipies.
Aunt Susan's Foundation Cookies
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
1/4 C rich milk
2 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla OR 1 tsp fresh lemon & a little rind
mix as usual, chill overnight, roll, slice and bake 15 minutes at 400. Freezes (I freeze dough in cookie-sized balls in ziplock bags - that way you can just grab one or two and toss them in the toaster oven)
basic chocolate- add one square melted chocolate. For fudgier, add 2
Oatmeal: add 2 C rolled oats, 1 tsp mace, 1/2 C molasses
Butterscotch: substitute brown sugar