Archive | May, 2015

Grandma Aptaker’s Chocolate Chip Slices

29 May

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Grandma Aptaker was my husband’s grandmother. She was born in Russia, raised her family in Brooklyn, and came out with them to Pueblo, Colorado, which is where I met her. Before I got married, I used to watch Grandma cook. I asked her questions while she worked, and wrote down the recipes.

These cookies are shaped like mandelbrot or biscotti. This mildly sweet cookie is basically of Ashkenazi (eastern European Jewish) origin, but I have always loved the addition of the very American chocolate chips. These cookies are slow starters but believe me, they are addictive.

Recipe:

Grandma said, “Make the dough”. So mix together in a glass bowl:

3 eggs; 3/4 cup sugar; 3 cups flour (1/2 cup more if necessary), 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of orange juice, and “a little bit lemon juice,” about 2 tablespoons.

Mix with a spoon or by hand. The mixture should be the consistency of cookie dough, but just a bit stiffer. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add a 1/4 cup of flour. This depends on the size of the eggs, humidity of the air, and the whims of fate. If you really need to, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour, but try to avoid it because you want the cookies to be soft. Make the dough into a ball.

Grandma said “roll out the dough.” Here is how: put a few tablespoons of light oil on a cookie sheet. Use a paper towel to spread the oil over the cookie sheet and wipe off the excess to get a very light coating of oil. Then put the ball of dough on a cookie sheet and gently pat it into a rectangle on until it’s about a 3/4 inch thick all around.

Grandma said “sprinkle with chocolate chips and roll up.”* Sprinkle 1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips onto the dough.  I would normally say that there’s no such thing as too many chocolate chips, but in this case you don’t want to use too many because the chips will melt and run together. The chips should be about 1/2 inch apart on the dough.  Then roll up the rectangle into a log, starting at one side and rolling it like a jellyroll. The log should be almost as long as the cookie sheet and about 3 to 4 inches wide. Pinch and tuck the last edge under to seal.

Bake at 350° for about one half hour to 45 minutes. When it’s done, let it cool and then slice it into about 3/4 inch to 1 inch slices. If the slices are too thin, the cookies will crumble.

*If you don’t like all this patting and rolling, here’s an alternative method.  Add the chocolate chips to the dough while it is still in the bowl and gently mix the chips in.  Then place the ball of dough onto the cookie sheet as above, and gently shape into a log.

Historical note: many Jewish cake and cookie recipes use a combination of fruit juice and oil instead of milk and butter. The purpose is to make a non-dairy dessert that can be served after a meat meal. However, in this case, conventional chocolate chips instantly make this a dairy dessert.  If you want a non-dairy (pareve) dessert, you  can use dairy-free chocolate chips. See below.

Variations

Other flavors:

If you don’t want to make this with chocolate chips, you can make it with butterscotch, peanut butter,  butter brickle, cinnamon, or white chocolate chips.

Instead of any kind of candy chips, you can use chopped dates or chopped dried cherries, dried apricot, or any other dried fruit.

You can use chopped nuts with the chips, with dried fruit, or by themselves.  Just make sure you are sprinkling only about 3/4 cup total of these mix-in ingredients onto the dough.

You can flavor the dough by adding a tablespoon of grated orange rind. You can also substitute all orange juice for the additional lemon juice. You can add a tablespoon of schnapps (any flavor) in place of the lemon juice.

Dairy-free

See above. Just substitute vegan or dairy-free chocolate chips. Kosher dairy-free chocolate chips exist but may be hard to find.  But nowadays, it is pretty easy to find vegan (no dairy) chocolate chips in the organic section of the supermarket.

Gluten-free

Just substitute your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour for the flour in this recipe.  Some good ones include King Arthur’s gluten-free all-purpose flour or Red Mill’s gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Reduced sugar

Substitute Splenda for half the sugar, or use Splenda’s baking mix, which is half sugar. You can find sugar-free chocolate chips on the market, or use dark chocolate chips for less sugar. For diabetics, replace half the chocolate chips with chopped nuts (for added fiber).

By Randa Dubnick

Image is “Grandma Aptaker’s Chocolate Chip Slices” by Randa Dubnick

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