Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cookie Tips, The First ...

The story for which I baked these cookies is entitled "Anatomy of a Cookie Plate." But beyond the recipes for the cookies, my editor wanted some tips that bakers could use to get a lot of visual punch out of just a few kinds of cookies. These are the tips I wrote for her.

Get into shapes
Create visual interest on the plate by including cookies of various shapes, like these long-and-lean biscotti and traditional shortbread wedges. Think beyond round, flat cookies to cookie balls that can be rolled in sugars, ground nuts, or crushed candies. And don’t forget cookie cutters.

Double (and triple) duty
When it comes to cookies, basic isn’t boring, it’s adaptable. Start with a simple recipe, then create a signature biscotti with the addition of nuts, dried fruit, or coconut. Or dress up your favorite butter cookie by rolling it in nuts and filling it with jewel-tone jam. Tired of oatmeal raisin? Try ruby-hued dried cranberries instead for a sweet-tart taste and bit of color.

Top this
Melt chocolate chips (or butterscotch chips or white chocolate chips) and drizzle it over cookies off the end of a fork, or use a zip-top plastic bag as a quick and easy pastry bag: cuff the top around a glass to hold it open, fill with melted chocolate, snip off the corner, and decorate! Make a powdered-sugar glaze more fun by using flavored coffee creamer instead of milk. (I really love this idea! I made it up! The oatmeal cookies have a hazelnut glaze on them.)

Break it up
There’s no law that says cookie plates have to flat as a pancake. Gather biscotti in a pretty glass and compose other cookies around it in piles to create levels.

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