12.11.2013

Christmas Cookies with Johnny Iuzzini and Macy's Culinary Council

this post isn't paper-related, but it's still about something really cool...and who doesn't need some christmas cookies in their life?! (i'm a member of the Everywhere Society, and Everywhere compensated me for this post about Macy's Culinary Council.)


Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini is one cool guy. I mean, he spends his days creating desserts -- one of my favorite topics -- so of course I would like him right away. I met Johnny at a recent Culinary Council event at the Macy's here in Seattle and got to learn a few new tips and tricks for making the perfect Christmas cookie. Maybe these tips will help you in the kitchen over the next few weeks -- and, you can try out one of his famous recipes too.


Some of the clever Christmas cookie tips I learned from Johnny:
  • Once you use a cookie cutter to cut out most of your sugar cookie dough, don't roll up the leftover pieces! Instead, just piece the remainders back together and press them back together with your fingers. Rolling it back out will warm it up and change the dough consistency.
  • For drop cookies, use a mini ice cream scoop to scoop out cookie dough and put it on the baking sheet for uniform-sized cookies (I've seen this a million times, but never bought one for myself -- I am totally converted now, they make it so easy!)
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness in the kitchen -- Johnny recommends keeping a clean work area to be more efficient, faster and better at baking.
  • Cube butter before putting it into the mixer to reduce strain on your machine.
  • Don't ever let cookies finish baking on the cookie sheet -- transfer them to a room-temperature surface ASAP. That's why baking with a silpat liner is so great -- they're sturdy and you can transfer the whole thing right off the cookie sheet onto the counter.

I loved learning a few tips from Johnny. The Macy's Culinary Council is pretty cool -- it's an exclusive council of expert chefs from around the country who share recipes and cooking tips. They've got some awesome chefs in the mix, including Tom Douglas, Todd English and Wolfgang Puck -- and you can meet them at events around the country. Find a Culinary Council event at your local Macy's by clicking here.



SALTED FUDGE COOKIES
Recipe courtesy Johnny Iuzzini
Ingredients:
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 oz. unsweeted chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • fleur de sel or other flaked sea salt, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Fill a small saucepan with water 1/3 full and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Put the semi sweet and unsweetened chocolate and butter into a heatproof bown and set it over the water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Turn off the heat and leave the mixture over the pan to keep hot.

Meanwhile, in a standing mixer with the whisk, whip the eggs, sugar, espresso powder and vanilla until very thick, about 10 minutes. Gently fold the warm chocolate mixture into the eggs and transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Put the flour, baking powder, and salt into a fine strainer and sift about 1/3 of it over the chocolate mixture. Gently fold until nearly combined. Sift another 1/3 of the dry ingredients over the bowl and fold; sift the remaining flour over the batter and fold until streaky; add the chocolate chips and fold gently until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Transfer the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe golf-ball sized rounds of batter about 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined sheets. Sprinkle some fleur de sel over each cookie.

Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until just set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Yields about 4 dozen.

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