There’s something about a well-stocked cookie jar that screams ‘home’ to me. When I was growing up, there wasn’t just a cookie jar – there was a cookie drawer. And you better believe it was always full.
My grandma treats baking less like a hobby and more like an endurance race. Last weekend, she told me she was in the process of baking – and I wish I was joking here – 20 dozen cookies. Sure, not all were for her house (a house in which three people live, FYI), but even so. I barely manage one batch of under-baked gingerbread at Christmas, let alone 240 on a random Saturday.
The fact is, I hate baking cookies. They’re a chore. It’s tray after tray after endless tray and you don’t even get a long enough break between bakes to, I don’t know, finish the first season of Mr Robot (seriously, I’ve been trying for months). But, I still feel a pang of guilt every time I spy my empty Wookiee Cookie jar on our countertop. The solution? One dough, four ways. Multiple cookies, various flavours, very little work. Okay, so you still have to bake all those cookies, but at least you don’t have to make four different kinds of dough (did I mention she made four different kinds of dough?) It’s just one measly dough, a couple of mix-ins and bam, more cookies than anyone ever needs (but everyone really wants).
One Dough, Four Ways – Triple Chocolate, Sugar, Snickerdoodle, and Red Velvet
YOU’RE GONNA NEED: Well, you don’t really need parchment paper, but I’d recommend baking on it – or a silicone baking sheet – to prevent sticking.
For the main dough:
2 cups butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
For the chocolate cookies:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips, for decoration
For the sugar cookies:
1-2 tbsp sprinkles (optional)
For the snickerdoodles:
1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon, combined
For the red velvet cookies:
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
2-3 drops concentrated red food colouring*
1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips, for decoration
1. Using a mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until light in colour and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually (and slowly!) stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until just combined – do not over mix.
3. Separate the dough into four freezer-safe bowls or storage containers, adding about 2 cups to each. In one bowl, add to the dough the cocoa powder and chocolate chips for the chocolate cookies; in a second bowl, add to the dough the sprinkles if using for the sugar cookies (if you choose not to use sprinkles, the dough will still work as a sugar cookie dough); in a third bowl, leave the dough as it is for the snickerdoodles; in a fourth bowl, add to the dough the cocoa powder and the red food colouring for the red velvet cookies. Stir each until the ingredients are combined, then seal the bowls or containers and place them in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
4. Once the doughs have chilled for 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. For the chocolate, red velvet, and sugar cookies, roll the doughs into balls using a teaspoon measure and drop onto the prepared baking trays, leaving a 2in gap between the balls. For the snickerdoodles, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and roll the dough balls in the mixture before placing on the baking tray.
5. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes or until just firm. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. For the chocolate cookies, drizzle melted chocolate chips over the cooled cookies. For the red velvet cookies, drizzle melted white chocolate chips over the cookies. You may choose to frost the sugar cookies if you choose not to use sprinkles.
* A concentrated red food colouring, like that in Wilton’s Color Right System, will give the most ‘true’ red colour. A gel colour would also work.
These cookies will all freeze well, and it’s a good idea to do so if you’re in a smaller household – this made roughly 70 cookies for me! Just stack cooled, set cookies into freezer-safe containers, seal and freeze for 1-3 months. Cookies will stay good in a cookie jar for about a week. To keep things fresh, line the bottom of the jar with a slice of bread to ‘soak up’ excess moisture.
Recipe adapted from The Gunny Sack.
PS: We got another hamster! His name’s Ser Jorah, and right now he’s still slightly unsure of us…