Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ok yeah, so I took a break - I return bearing COOKIES! :)

Somehow life got busy, the CSA ended for the season, and I was forced to go to the grocery store to try and find SOMETHING that bears a resemblance to a tasty vegetable.  Even the organic wasn't the same.  My CSA has an "early bird" that goes from March - May, then we get only a week's break before the June - November one starts, so like Persephone, I have emerged from the Hades of GM seeds and CAFO meats, and come back into the light of organic and IPM...which has nothing to do with my blog post today, because it's all about cookies.  (must be my ADD kicking in)

YEARS ago "BK" (before kids) I lived in NJ in an apartment in Weehawken.  I was literally 2 minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel, which if driven through, will dump you downtown in NYC.  This was an easy escape route for us after the bars closed and a late night meal was warranted.  We'd head into Chinatown and hit up Wo Hop's, a  Chinatown icon.  Cheap food, surly waiters, family style dining (shared tables) downstairs.  Still the best and freshest chinese food I've ever had.  Afterwards we'd walk down Mott Street, where everything stays open to all hours of the night.

Sometimes we'd stop at one of the Chinese bakeries for dessert.  They had a whole bunch of stuff - moon cakes, bean cakes, and a couple of things I would usually alternate - a sort of rice krispie cake, but made with crispy noodles and honey and sesame...and a large golden, crumbly, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth cookie that I simply called a "dot" cookie.

For some reason a hankering for the said "dot" cookie reared its ugly head, so I decided to google a recipe - surely SOMEONE knows how to bake these gems?  Hrm...I did find something close in flavor and texture, but not color.  I guess I'll have to experiment a bit more and post my results *grins* difficult, I know, but someone has to do it.

These are pretty easy to make.  I took a recipe I found and altered it (since when have you known me to *ever* make a recipe exactly the way it's written?)  I used half shortening and half butter, because a) I couldn't stand the thought of all that Crisco going right to my butt which is ever expanding since I hit the big 5-0, and b) I wanted the butter flavor.  This was a wise decision :).  I also used equal parts of cake flour and whole wheat pastry flour, because I wanted the cookies to have that tender, melt in your mouth texture.  If you are wondering about the differences between all these flours (who knew there were so many?) here is a good LINK that will make you a more informed baker.

I don't usually bake.  My mom loves to bake.  To me it's more of a chore than "fun".  I haven't yet learned all the nuances of baking, which is definitely more of an art form than simply cooking a meal.  Perhaps "art" isn't a good descriptive term - "scientific"  might be more appropriate.  If everything is not in the correct proportions, you could have disastrous results.  Feel like leaving out the egg in that cake batter? don't try it.  Want to omit baking powder and use baking soda instead? better not sub it out teaspoon for teaspoon or you may wind up with matzoh instead of sheet cake.  That being said, let me present my version of these yummy cookies...I didn't mess with the dangerous stuff :)
I had enough cake flour to use in this recipe, but I thought the Whole Wheat pastry flour would give an added texture (crumbly, tender) that I was looking for.  I think it did.  Please forgive the lack of pictures, but this recipe really is pretty straightforward.  The hard part is keeping them around.  I had to ration myself to one a day and put the container out of sight in the dining room.

So I give you the recipe, printable as always,  HERE:

Chinese Dot Cookies - Yields about 24
inspired by Vicki's recipe on

3/4 cup Crisco (please do not omit this - needed for texture - I know the thought of putting pure lard in your cookies grosses you out, but sometimes it's a good thing - trust me)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups of cake flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground walnuts
can of fudge frosting (freeze the leftovers)


1.  Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Don't be afraid to beat it a few minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla, beating again til' well combined and fluffy.

2.  Add the flours, baking soda, salt and stir into creamed mixture.  The dough will be a bit sticky, you can add a bit more flour, but not too much.  Best is to coat your hands, lift the dough out of the bowl, and gently form into a log about 15 inches long.  Put a piece of saran wrap on the counter the length of the log plus a few inches.  Sprinkle the walnuts on the wrap, and roll the log around until coated, then roll up in saran wrap and place in fridge for an hour. (or more if you have stuff to do)

3.  Preheat oven to 350 and lay some parchment paper down on your cookie sheets.

4.  Unwrap the dough, slice about 1/2" thick, place 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.  They should be slightly golden around the edges and appear dry, not wet.  Allow to cool for a minute or two before removing to cooling rack.

5.  When cool, place a dollop of icing in the center of each cookie.  I didn't melt the icing, but next time I think I will to see if I can get a smoother texture rather than the hand made swirls on mine.  Just be sure to allow them to dry.  Store covered at room temperature.

The original recipe stated serves 12, but these cookies are large, and I got two trays which is closed to 30+ cookies.

The cookies are absolutely yummy.  Crumbly, tender, yet with a chewy bite - hint of butter, not too sweet, and fudgy goodness in the center.  What more could you ask for? :)

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