One of the reasons we picked the particular floor plan for our house was the kitchen. After living in apartments for many years, I was incredibly excited at the prospect of having more than enough kitchen cabinets and a fantastic pantry area with plenty of shelves. When we moved into the house, I had quite a bit of kitchen gear already, but was looking forward to actually having room for more. Well, eight years later, I've done a pretty good job of filling things up. =) In fact, my old cookbook shelf is now home to some of my more interesting to look at stuff (madeleine pans, tart pans, etc). And thanks to blogging--and especially being part of groups that challenge my skills and get me to bake new things)--these days my pantry is also filled to overflowing.
Bread baking alone has dramatically increased the variety of flours and grains that I keep on hand. All-purpose, bread, whole wheat, white whole wheat, rye, semolina, oats, cornmeal...the list goes on. And then there are the various sugars and other sweeteners. Don't even get me started on the chocolate! Then there's the category that really came in handy this week--I have quite a variety of dried fruit. I never would have guessed that I'd use it so much in baking all sorts of things, and the girls love to eat it, too. The reason the fruit was so good to have on hand is that this week's recipe (chosen by Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet) is Chockablock Cookies. As you might guess from the name, these cookies have all sorts of great stuff mixed in. No problem at all for someone with a well-stocked pantry. =)
I did make a few changes this week, both with the method and the ingredients. I took the easy route in making these cookies, and did the mixing by hand with a wooden spoon. That's my favorite method for mixing up cookies, especially drop cookies. As any long-time reader of my blog could predict, the first thing I ditched from the recipe was the coconut. It's not allowed in my house, except under extremely special circumstances. =) I also decided to leave the nuts out, since I knew Brianna and Gillian would be more likely to eat the cookies without them. I don't mind nuts in some things, but wasn't in the mood for them, either. I decided to go for a variety of dried fruit, thanks to the abundant supply in the pantry. I used half a cup each of chopped dried mango, dried cranberries, and chopped prunes. Yes, prunes. My kids love them (to the point where I really have to make sure they don't eat too many, as that would have unfortunate consequences), and thanks to Dorie, I've discovered that they're great with chocolate. I know a lot of people substituted for the molasses, but I like it, so I kept it, using the mild stuff. I also used all butter, rather than a mix of butter and shortening. After mixing up the dough, I used my #40 disher to portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I ended up with a total of 40 cookies, and baked them for 16 minutes.
The verdict? Pretty good. There are a few more things I'll change if I make these again, but they were good. I like molasses, but it seemed like these needed something more. I don't like cinnamon with chocolate, but I think I'll add some ground ginger next time, since it pairs well with the molasses. Along those same lines, I think some chopped crystallized ginger would be a good addition, too. B liked the cookies, but isn't a big fan of the cranberries, so I'll probably leave those out. The mango was great, and I like it with the chocolate. It was hard to detect the prunes, but I'd probably leave them in, especially since my kids are big fans. All in all, a fun cookie to play around with some more.
If you'd like to try these for yourself, I highly recommend getting your own copy of the book. For this particular recipe, you also find it over at Mary's blog. And be sure to check out what everyone else did this week, here.