I heard about Operation Baking GALS right when it started because its founder, Susan of She’s Becoming DoughMessTic is also a member of Tuesdays with Dorie, but I didn’t get around to joining until now. I’m so glad I did! This is a great way to honor our soliders and let them know that they are appreciated. I hope that Susan’s idea has made many of our troops happy. I just think of the times when I’ve been away from home and how much I longed for something to remind me of what I’m missing, and I know that the feeling is even more intense for the troops who are thousands of miles away. I hope that all of these baked goods give them a taste of home and lift their spirits!
I thought for a while about what to make. I tried to think of things that would hold up well during shipping. I decided to make peanut butter cookies and blondies. Most men I know are crazy about peanut butter cookies, so I figured these would be well recieved, and I just love this blondie recipe and I know that it will hold up and that they will like them.
I joined Bridget’s team for this round and we baked for a soldier named Joshua, who is stationed in Iraq. I hope that our team’s baked goods brought a smile to his face and that the troops in his group get a taste of home. When I was at the post office, I was so happy that I was able to do this and even the man who helped me box them up got excited! I will definitely be around for round five!
Blondies (Source: Baking Illustrated)
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons ( 1 1/2 sticks), unsalted butter melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used a mix of white chocolate and toffee bits)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse (I omitted this)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16 inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise so that one measures 13 inches wide, and the other measures 9 inches wide. Fit one sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides (overhang with help with removal of baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendcular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
3. Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in semisweet and white chocolate chips and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.
4. Bake until top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2 by 2-inch bars and serve.
Peanut Butter Crisscrosses (Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter – crunch or smooth (not natural)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or cooking spray. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Using a handmixer, beat the butter on medium speed in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate the sugar and eggs.
On low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappears.
Mix in chopped peanuts if you are using them.
Pour the 1/2 cup of rolling sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls and drop the balls, a couple at a time, into the sugar. (My hands are rather warm, so the dough got really sticky when I was making cookie dough balls so cooling my dough in the fridge for a little bit helped to make the dough easier to work with. ) Roll the balls around in the sugar to coat them, then place on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them.
To make the crisscrosses, use a fork and press down on top of the sugar crusted cookies.
Bake for about 12 minutes. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and somewhat soft. Let the cookies sit on a wire rack to cool down.