~ Lidia's Big, Golden, Crunch-a-licious, Sugar Cookie ~
Question. Have you ever been tempted to bake one giant cookie? The one you're looking at here is an oval, about 12" long and 10" wide. It's a thing of beauty. It's sugar cookie perfection. No need to chill or roll dough or cut cookies. No nothing. It eliminates all the nonsense involved with baking sugar cookies. Second question. How many times have you bought sugar cookies to process, or sugar cookie crumbs to use ready-made, to make a cookie crust for a pie or a cheesecake or sprinkle between the layers of a parfait? Admit it, we all do -- no one in their right mind bakes sugar cookies with the sole intent of processing them to crumbles or crumbs.
What if I told you that, via a food processor, in 3-4 minutes, you could mix and have one big beautiful brown-sugar cookie baking in the oven for a short 11-12 minutes, and, after it cools, besides have a fantastic scratch-made cookie to break into snacks, with 1 additional minute of processing, you'd have 3 1/2-4 cups of superb, crumbles or crumbs. Trust me, it's true.
The year was 2007 and I had the pleasure of working for and with the one-and-only Lidia Matticchio Bastianich for a few days. She was here in Happy Valley to promote her then latest book Lidia's Family Table along with her upcoming cooking series at our local PBS-TV station, WPSU. As WPSU's cooking consultant at that time, my job was to manage all celebrity cooking demonstrations: provide and organize all hardware, prep and ready all the ingredients for the chef's personal on-camera demonstration, plus, prep and cook all the food he or she was demo-ing for a studio audience of 85-100 people to taste, and, decorate "the set" as well.
In prep for Lidia's demo, behind the scenes, me and my team of two, in my home kitchen and on-site, prepared: 13 quarts Simple Vegetable Broth (p. 288) in order to prepare 12 quarts Basic Risotto (p. 224), and, 2 quarts Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Glaze (p. 39), in order to prepare Roasted Acorn Squash Salad (p. 38) which required slicing and roasting 3 dozen acorn squash. For dessert we poached 24 pounds of apples for 95 Apple Crisp Parfaits (p. 404), which required 8 cookies/24 cups of Sugar Cookie Crumbles (p. 406) and 6 quarts of whipped cream.
Get your mise en place -- this recipe moves fast!
Even though Lidia intended this recipe for making sugar cookie crumbles or crumbs, this is a great-tasting cookie. It's buttery-rich, and delicately-crisp with cinnamon and vanilla undertones. It hard to resist breaking it into pieces just to snack on. There's more. Baking one big sugar cookie is a ton of fun -- kids love it. And, for those of you, like me, who hate rolling and cutting sugar cookie dough, trust me, you're gonna love this recipe. And yes, of course you can make "normal" 3"- 5" -sized round cookies.
Tip from Mel: If you want to make more than one cookie, two or three for example, don't double or triple the quantity in the food processor. Process the ingredients for one cookie and put it in the oven to bake. While the first one bakes, process the ingredients for the second one, and so on.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces salted butter, cut into cubes and kept cold (1 stick)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cold water + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, for a total of 3 tablespoons liquid
~Step 1. In work bowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Using a series of 10-12 rapid on-off pulses, process to combine. Remove butter cubes from refrigerator and sprinkle them over the sugar mixture in the processor. Using a series of 35-40 rapid on-off pulses, process until sandy and grainy. Sprinkle the water mixture over the mixture. Using a series of 10-12 rapid on-off pulses, process until mixture is just moistened but still grainy.
~ Step 2. Transfer/dump mixture onto a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Using your fingertips, do not press down. Keep mixture loose. Roll and spread the grains around to form and 10" x 8" oval, being sure to fill in any large "holes" with grains of dough -- small holes will fill in as the cookie bakes.
~ Step 4. Bake on center rack of preheated 375° oven, 8 minutes. Rotate pan, back to front (to insure even baking), and continue to bake an additional 4-6 minutes. Read the following "Note" carefully:
Note: Four minutes longer will produce a cookie with crunchy sides and a chewy center, perfect for snacking on. Six extra minutes will yield a crunchy cookie perfect for making crumbles or crumbs.
Cookie will be golden all over with deeper golden edges. Remove from oven. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely, 1-2 hours. Transfer cookie to wire rack to expose the bottom to air and crisp up a bit more, 1-2 hours. Cookie(s) can be prepared 1-2 days in advance and stored, uncovered, at room temperature. Break into bite-sized snacks, crumble them or process them to crumbs to use in desserts. Cookie crumbles or crumbs can be stored in the freezer.
One big golden sugar cookie? Break it up. Got milk?
Special Equipment List: paring knife; food processor; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; wire cooling rack
Cook's Note: Traditional sugar cookies.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)