Thursday, November 19, 2015

Spoonie Got Scoops - Exotic Spice Cookies

Flags at half-mast, downtown Kissimmee. Viva la France.

Once and for all we have to resolve the matter of scoops.  But first, Tai Chi.

When my son was just 11 years old, he started studying martial arts.  Not, as you might think, in taekwando, but in kung fu. His instructor, Sifu Tony Juron, started Cory on a path that contributed all sorts of positive things to his childhood (along with Senior Master Casco, his taekwando instructor and mentor) and helped make him the really fine adult he turned out to be.

Tonight, watching Cory finish teaching taekwando class at ATA Mass Defense in St. Cloud, I can only imagine that Sifu Tony felt some well-earned pride. Even though it has been years since Cory took formal classes with Tony, he says that Tony is still teaching him.

Why was Sifu Tony at the taekwando school? And why was I at the school, when I'd had to stop doing taekwando several years before because of fibromyalgia? (I have a black belt - hard to believe, I know. It only took me 12 years.)  Without going through a long and interesting (to me, anyway) story, Tony has come to an agreement with Mrs. Massey, the owner and chief instructor at ATA Mass Defense (and without whom I would not have made it as far as I did in taekwando; talk about having patience!) to teach tai chi. And tai chi is something I can do; there is no impact to jar my nerve endings. Tai chi is all about calmness, light movements, and positive energy, all the things I need in my life.

Walking in to my home dojo after so long, and being able to take lessons was a joy. Yesterday was the second class, and I enjoyed it and appreciated the underlying philosophy.  For the first time since the fibromyalgia changed my life, I think I am capable of regaining some degree of control over my body.  It felt good to be able to move with purpose and discipline, and Tony is (still) a marvelous instructor.  I just have to get into the habit of saving some spoons for my 7:00 PM classes on my tai chi days.

Spoonie Got Scoops

Scoops.  I mention them all the time in my recipes.  Scoops for meatballs, scoops for cookies, scoops for cupcakes and muffins.  Give me liberty or give me scoops. I don't know how I made meatballs or cookies before scoops; I did, I just don't know how.

I have 4 different size scoops; the ice cream scoop with the wooden handle belonged to my grandmother-who-raised-me.  Besides ice cream, I use it to portion those massive Italian meatballs, 2 scoops per meatball. I've used the second from the left to make Swedish meatballs, as well as certain cookies.  The third from the left is my go-to cookie scoop - it holds 2 tablespoons and is perfect for most cookies and for miniature muffins and cupcakes.  The last one is also used for certain tiny cookies.  Scoops are awesome helpers in the kitchen, and which scoop you use is entirely up to you.  The advantage to using scoops is the uniformity of size and ease of release. If the dough or meatball mixture doesn't release easily, give the scoop a shot of no-stick spray.  And that's all I have to say about scoops.  Use them. Love them. Embrace the scoop. Thank you.

Exotic Spice Cookies 

These are easy. Having said that, let me warn that they are not pretty when baked, and you will surely stare at the bowl and swear at The Great Goddess of Cookies (me) that there is not enough dough to cover the chips and nuts.  Trust me, there is but just barely. These take 12 to 13 minutes to bake, but you have to watch them like a hawk so the edges don't turn into carbon. The yield is 2 1/2 dozen, although the original recipe, using a 1/4 cup measure, makes only twelve.  I'm glad I made them smaller with the third scoop from the left, because my husband and a guest scarfed up a handful each before I could get them to the freezer. Neither one noticed the cookies were not pretty because they were too busy loving the taste. The recipe is my riff on another gem from Camilla Saulsbury. I used cashews instead of macadamia nuts, and went glazeless.

1 - 16.5 oz. roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup cashew halves and pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Break up the cookie dough into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well (I used a rubber spatula) until blended. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Now use a scoop to portion out the dough, and roll the cookie between your palms (like you roll a meatball). Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used the silpat) leaving 3 inches between the cookies.  Bakes for 13 to 17 minutes until edges are golden brown.  Cool for at least 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are sublime ...

The photo is a bit darker than the actual cookies

Into the freezer with the first batch

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