Baking is one of my absolute favorite things to do and I love everything about it. Bread, cake, cookies, pastries…my mood depends on what I bake and how easy or complex my baking adventure is on a given day. Sometimes my baking days are intense because I am developing a recipe or trying a new and complex pastry. Other baking days are therapeutic and help me unwind. These are days for kneading bread dough or baking chocolate chip cookies with music playing in the background.
One of the ways I like to bake most is with a friend. It’s fun trying new recipes with someone, each person adding their own twist to the dough or batter. I especially love baking with my friend Meg, because just like me, she loves to bake. Our only difference in baking is how much we like to bake at one time. Meg is what I call a “marathon baker.” There are so many recipes and varieties of baked goods to try and she wants to bake as many as humanly possible on our planned baking days. I on the other hand, love taking my time and being methodical when measuring out ingredients like flour and sugar. I’m sure this is probably due to my experience in a test kitchen where everything had to be precise and accurately recorded, but I think age may play a factor too. I have baked more years than my younger friend Meg, which has given me more time to “play” and more experience, but with Meg’s love for baking, her experiences may soon exceed mine.
Meg and I had such a day this past weekend. We baked at a slower pace than what is normal when we’re together and at first I thought she was slowing down to accommodate me, but I suspect it may have something to do with her five-month-old son, Henry. We baked bread, cake, four different varieties of sweet rolls and two flavors of cookies. Some of what we baked was planned ahead, but some was experimentation, using whatever flavors we could find in her pantry. Not everything was a success, we threw out a whole pound cake, and one version of the sweet rolls, but everything else was deemed worthy of its calories. Meg’s favorite was chocolate malt cookies she adapted from a cookie book recipe, but I enjoyed the vanilla version, which is the recipe I’m giving you. Add whatever flavors you want to this base recipe. We baked some plain, some with chocolate chips and some with different flavors of jam in the middle. However you decide to bake them, enjoy your baking day with time set aside for you. Organize your pantry, pull out all your ingredients, put on an apron if you have one, turn on some music and fire up your oven. Enjoy your very own baking day.
Vanilla Malt Cookies
2¾ c. all-purpose flour
¾ c. plain malted milk powder
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
3 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix first four ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together butter, cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake about 10 to 13 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.