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Friday, October 1, 2010

Toaster-Oven Cookies

On a day I would now very much like to forget, it was discovered that I do not know how to cook in English or in US customary units. This is of no particular concern to my mother, who believes that a very good reason for my learning how to cook is to avoid becoming American, but this does present some challenges to cooking and writing blog posts accessibly.

A challenge of cooking in general, furthermore, is not having all of the necessary materials. It is often said that all of the required ingredients should be assembled before starting on a recipe, but I have realized that it is equally important to have all of the listed equipment. I made cookies from scratch last night, and the recipe calls for a kitchen scale, food processor, rolling pin, and cookie cutters, none of which I own in my incomplete studio kitchen.

The recipe is as follows:
50g peanut powder
20g chopped peanuts
100g flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp milk or water
  1. (Optional) Roast peanuts in a toaster oven for several minutes to give the cookies a more savory taste.

    I actually didn't have peanuts, so I substituted with Unsalted & Dry Roasted Almonds (Sliced and Slivered) from Trader Joe's. Since they were already roasted, I skipped this step.
  2. Chop enough peanuts (almonds) in a food processor to obtain 50g of peanut powder. Also chop 20g of peanuts (almonds) for several seconds.

    Thankfully, the bag of almonds indicated that 30g was equal to 1/4 cup, which allowed me to get around the issue of not having a kitchen scale. In hindsight this method was not altogether accurate, since the bulk of unpowdered and powdered nuts are different and I didn't notice the gram-cup conversion until after I started chopping, but I don't think it matters all that much. As for the chopping itself, I did it by hand, which is not all that fun and results in a somewhat coarse powder.

    Just getting started.
  3. Mix the 50g of peanut (almond) powder, shaken (?) flour, sugar, butter, and milk/water in a bowl. After these ingredients have been kneaded together, add the 20g of peanuts (almonds) and mix. Let the dough sleep (sit?) for 30 minutes. If the dough is too dry or crumbly, add more milk/water.

    I used margarine instead of butter. I also actually added 4 tbsp of sugar here instead of 2 tbsp, because the recipe indicated that the cookies made with 2 tbsp would be barely sweet. The suggestions were to add marmalade (à la scones), honey, or extra sugar, and I went with the extra sugar because I do not have marmalade or honey. 4 tbsp, though, is still probably not sweet enough for most of you. For reference, 200 ml of flour is supposed to be equivalent to 105 g.
  4. Roll out the dough to about 7-8 mm in thickness, and cut with cookie cutters.

    I know that a simple alternative to a rolling pin is a glass, but remarkably I do not have a single one in this apartment. (I do drink things, it's just that I only have mugs.) And so I basically pounded out the dough with my palms to the right thickness, although this isn't particularly recommended because the coarse peanut/almond bits can be a little painful. A glass would also have been helpful as a makeshift cookie cutter, but in true Japanese fashion I replaced that with the bottom rim of a rice bowl. Harhar. This resulted in 38.5 small (~3 cm in diameter) cookies.

    In case you were wondering.
  5. Bake the cookies in a 300-watt toaster oven until the cookies become golden brown, then cool on a wire rack.

    This took about 15-20 minutes of baking, but my toaster oven was too small to accommodate all 38.5 cookies at once, so I had to split it into two rounds. Some of the cookies came out a little harder than the recipe suggested, which leads me to wonder whether the margarine-butter substitution was a bad idea, if I didn't have enough liquid, or what.

The last step was the reason I was initially drawn to this recipe--I do have an oven, but it's not very efficient to heat it for a small batch of cookies, and the baking tray I have is not oven-sized. A toaster oven is really easy to use and the cleanup is minimal.

By the way, this is the original recipe, even though in all likelihood it will not help you:

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