When Robert Rose sent me The 250 Best Brownies, Bars and Squares they also sent me The 250 Best Cookie Recipes, both by Esther Brody. As I mentioned in my review of the bars and brownies version these books are not really cookbooks you would read or browse for pleasure. They are more utilitarian, a resource of recipes for when you already have a particular kind of cookie in mind. I was more pleased by the selection in this book, maybe because I am more interested in all the different kinds of cookies than I am bars. I have also become fond of these books as being good choices for baking with children, so once again I let Alex pick a recipe from the list the publisher sent me. She chose the The Refrigerator Cookie, in other words, what I call slice and bake cookies.
The Refrigerator Cookie is interesting in that it calls for shortening, not butter. I think of slice and bake cookies as being made with butter. Even more interesting, the very next recipe, Easy Icebox Cookie, is made with butter. Part of me found this frustrating, as I would prefer to just know what the author thinks is the best basic slice and bake cookie. On the other hand, the variety of recipes is nice for those with allergies or dietary restrictions. Or food bloggers like me, always willing to try another recipe!
As with the Gingerbread and Maple Doodles, I substituted unprocessed lard for any kind of vegetable shortening. Alex and I made 2 flavors of these refrigerator cookies: these Halloween sprinkled vanilla cookies (sprinkles on the inside and out!) and a chocolate version made with cocoa and dotted with Andes Baking Chips. In neither case did I use the chopped nuts in the recipe.
And the verdict? I personally prefer butter in my slice and bake cookies, because I like slice and bake cookies to be crispy and crumbly rather than chewy. More like a shortbread. And butter encourages that crispiness, whereas shortening–vegetable or lard–encourages chewiness and tenderness. Once I adjusted to that difference, however, I found these addictive. For the plain vanilla version, the cookies that are actually pictured, I also liked the slightly savory edge that unprocessed lard brought to the party.
• Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C)
• Lightly greased cookie sheet
2 cups all-purpose flour 500 mL
2 tsp baking powder 10 mL
1⁄2 tsp salt 2 mL
1⁄2 cup softened shortening 125 mL
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar 175 mL
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar 125 mL
1 egg 1
1 tsp vanilla 5 mL
1⁄2 cup chopped nuts 125 mL
1. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In another bowl, beat shortening and sugars until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg until well incorporated. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Add flour mixture and mix until a soft dough forms.
3. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half. Shape into two long rolls about 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm.
4. When ready to bake, remove from wrap and cut dough into slices 1⁄4 inch (0.5 cm) thick. Place about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Immediately transfer to wire racks to cool.
Makes about 4 dozen