Do you lie awake at night thinking up recipes? Sometimes I get so obsessed with food that I can't sleep. My current obsession is flavored milk. It reminds me of childhood and going for sweet treats with my Mom to the Peninsula Dairy Store in Palo Alto where they once bottled milk and ice cream for delivery. The little shop still remains, but sadly the milk plant does not.
My hometown has an interesting milk history with so many dairy farms close by, so it's practically impossible not to be a milk lover. It would be equivalent to trying to find a Frenchman that doesn't like cheese – or wine for that matter. In fact, Palo Alto still employs one of the last milkmen on earth. (And no, we do not all look the same!)
The other day at my neighborhood parisian cafe, I was so crazy with this flavored milk idea that I ordered lait parfumé à l'orgeat (milk with orgeat) and then another with lait parfumé à fraise (milk with strawberry). I'm sure the waiter thought I was either pregnant or crazy. And then it just hit me: tiny glasses of neopolitan milk with three types of warm cookies!
What could be cuter than that? Strawberry milk with orange-lime zest cookies, rich chocolate milk with cinnamon spice cookies, and cold plain milk with double-chocolate cookies!
Normally when I bake cookies I eat half the dough and then half the cookies when they come out of the oven. I'm worse with brownies. I was so sick from eating cookie dough yesterday I had to take a long nap to sleep off the excess calories. Sugar does that to me; just puts me straight into a sleep coma. I've taken an excerpt for the master cookie dough recipe from the cookbook The Secrets of Baking. (indispensable pastry cookbook if you don't already have it). You'll have to purchase the book though for all her neat variations!
The flavored milk is straightforward. For the strawberry milk make strawberry syrup: roughly chop a basket of strawberries and place them in a small pot with 1/4 cup of sugar on medium heat. Let them cook down without adding water or anything. Once you see medium sticky bubbles, strain it and reserve the syrup. Then add it to your milk once it's cooled (or to a glass of champagne – equally delicious!). For the chocolate milk I make hot chocolate with the richest cocoa powder I can find and then chill it.
This recipe was really fun for me, a nice change from the cuisine world. Hope it inspires that inner child!
Master Sugar Cookies
taken from Sherry Yard's Secrets of Baking Cookbook
Yields: About 3-dozen 3-inch rounds
Special Tools: Standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (optional), parchment paper
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
13/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1. Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and the paddle or beaters. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Cream on medium speed until it is smooth, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
2. Add the egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
3. On low speed, add teh flour. Beat until all of the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds, or until you have an even-textured dough.
4. Remove small handfuls of dough from the mixer and plop them down the middle of a sheet of parchment paper, creating a log about 1 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold the parchment over, creating a sausage. Chill for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough will keep nicely, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. (Thaw dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until you can slice it.)
5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. When the dough has chilled, remove it from teh parchment, our the remaining 1/4 cup sugar onto your work surface, and roll the log in the sugar. Using a chef's knife, slice 1/3-inch-thick rounds off the log. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
7. Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges, turning th bbaking sheet front to back halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven.