Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baking: Turning Quick Bread Mix into Chewy Cookies

Baking experiment

As the holidays approach, all sorts of festively flavored quick bread mixes have started gracing the supermarket shelves. Pumpkin, gingerbread spice, cranberry-walnut, chocolate peppermint... the list goes on and on. The problem is, I don't want a loaf of bread, I want fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies. 

As I've mentioned before, baking is not this Slacker Gourmet's forte. I love some homemade sweet treats as much as the next person, but I have very little patience for measuring out and sifting dry ingredients. Boxed cookie mixes don't come in the most exciting flavors, however, all of the yummy seasonal varieties of quick breads sound like they'd make excellent cookies. But how can we convert the quick bread mix into a successful cookie recipe? 

I took a look at homemade quick bread recipes, and made a mental note of the proportions of the major dry ingredients (flour, leavener(s), salt, sugar*) for one loaf. Then I looked up a few recipes for chewy cookies (since that was the texture I was hoping for), and checked out the proportions of dry ingredients for those. 

It turned out that the dry ingredient ratios were very similar between the 2 different types of recipes (quick breads seem to have a little bit less sugar, though). The amount of dry ingredients called for in a quick bread recipe yielding one loaf was the same amount called for in cookie recipes that yielded approximately 2 dozen good-sized cookies. The question was, could I add the dry ingredients from the quick bread mix to the same amount of wet ingredients from the cookie recipe (in this case, 2 eggs and 2 sticks of butter), and get cookie dough?

Cookies are typically made by the creaming method, in which you cream (mix) together butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy, then slowly incorporate the eggs. Once the eggs are in the mix, the dry ingredients get added slowly, just until the dough comes together. However, the quick bread mix already had sugar in it, but since quick breads are not quite as sweet, I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the butter to help it get even lighter and fluffier. Is it necessary? I'm not 100% sure, but it didn't hurt matters here. 

Once the dough came together, it seemed like it was indeed a cookie dough - maybe a little softer than I'd thought it would be. Chilling in the fridge for an hour or two could improve the texture. I was impatient, though, so I forged ahead and dished out 1 1/2 tablespoon portions with my handy-dandy cookie scoop onto my prepared cookie sheets, slightly doubtful that this would actually work.

20 minutes later, after baking and cooling, I ended up with...

Experimental cookies (Project 365: 241/365)

It worked beautifully! Chewy, chocolate-y and minty, these were some darn tasty cookies! 3 days later, we're still eating them, and they're still chewy and delicious.

Experimental cookies

Chewy Cookies (made from a quick bread mix)
Approximate yield: 2 dozen 2 3/4 inch cookies

Ingredients
  • One box of quick bread mix (meant to yield one loaf)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (cut up and microwaved on high for 20 seconds does the trick)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup nuts, chocolate chips, or other mix-ins (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer, until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.

Slowly add the quick bread mix in batches, until the dough just comes together (scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary). If using mix-ins, gently stir them in after the dough is fully mixed.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (although really, the cookie scoop will make your life easier) on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving a couple of inches in between each cookie.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (begin checking them around 8 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then move them to wire racks to cool completely... or move them to your mouth. 


I'd originally planned to experiment with 2 different types of quick bread mix. Sadly, the bag of pumpkin mix met an untimely end on the kitchen floor, so that experiment will have to wait until I return to Trader Joe's. I have a good feeling about further experimentation, though!

*Yes, I know sugar is typically considered a wet ingredient in baking, but since it is already incorporated in the quick bread mix, I needed to consider it as a dry ingredient for this experiment. Back to where I left off...

2 comments:

  1. Can I use oil instead of butter? Thats what I have.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please help I'm trying to make them now. Mix is in the bowl.

    ReplyDelete