PEMBERVILLE - Faye Hahn has been known to produce 500 dozen cookies over a single holiday season.
She's been baking and decorating wedding and birthday cakes for over 30 years.
Her signature cutout sugar cookies, she admits with no false modesty, "are kind of famous," and have been requested by people as far afield as Key West, Fla., and Germany.
The Wood County Historical Center used to order 80 of her pies to serve at their annual chicken barbecue. The Center Township Fire Department did the same.
So when this one-woman baking whiz recommends a Christmas cookie recipe she herself just acquired, its behooves the rest of us to sit up and take notice.
We're talking about her Decadent Chip Cookies.
Decadent they are, no doubt about it. Also melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
"I just found this recipe. I've only made it about three times, but I think other people would really enjoy them," Hahn noted.
They have the added benefit of being fairly simple to make - at least as far as technique is concerned. So don't let the list of 13 ingredients dissuade you from adding Decadent Chip Cookies to your family's collection of cookies for the coming holiday parties and family gatherings.
I predict that if you serve them for Christmas 2008, you will definitely be ordered to make them again every Christmas hereafter.
Since the cookies call for crushed Heath toffee candy bars plus a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, they definitely hold their own against the showiest and sweetest of desserts like fudge, layered cake or pie. But as cookies they have the advantage of being easily stored in the freezer, and highly portable.
Hahn has one strict piece of advice: Don't over-bake them. What you want to end up with is a soft cookie.
And that means "you can't take them off the cookie sheet right away" after they come from the oven, or they will break into pieces. "You have to let them set up."
Hahn and her sister, Ruth Ann, have lived in their Ohio 199 farmstead home for 63 years.
"My sister and I kept house for my dad (starting) when we were 14 and 15. We cooked meals and cleaned."
It was at age 15 that Faye began the tradition of baking cutout cookies. "The recipe was in a farm magazine," she recalls.
But over the years she developed a popular innovation of frosting one side of the chubby cookie and decorating the other with colored sugar, red-hots and other traditional toppings.
For several decades she juggled growing demand for her home-baking with a series of outside jobs.
"I worked down at Foster Duck Farm for 23 years. Then I got a job at the bakery at Pemberville IGA about six years. After that I went to Woodville and worked in the meat department.
"When Churchill's was still in BG they didn't have a cake baker for awhile, so I filled in."
Her own wedding cake orders exploded.
"The most I've done is three weddings in one day" and "the farthest is probably out to Marblehead."
It was almost too much.
"A lot of time I'd bake all night, lay down 15 minutes, then go to work."
Seven years ago Hahn had hip surgery and since then she's "slowed down."
That means she only produces "a couple hundred dozen cookies over the holidays now" as opposed to her peak output of 500 dozen. If she gets in a time crunch, Ruth Ann helps her frost them.
That doesn't count all the elephant ears and peanut butter popcorn that other customers regularly demand of her in December.
And she always comes through for a special request.
Take the wedding in Key West. The bride and groom ordered a pair of heart-shaped cutout cookies in individual bags as favors for each guest. Never mind that Hahn's kitchen is located in Wood County, not Florida. No one else's cookies would do.
Peanut butter temptations
About 40 Reese Peanut Butter Miniatures*
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Remove wrappers from candies. Line small muffin cups (1 3/4 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.
Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, egg and vanilla until fluffy. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
Place 1 tablespoon of dough in paper-lined muffin cup. Do not flatten. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees F. until puffed and lightly brown. Remove from oven. Immediately press peanut butter cups in center of each cookie. Cool completely in muffin pan.
* Variation: You can use chocolate kisses in place of Reese's cups
Decadent chip cookies
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. white chocolate chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips
8 Heath toffee candy bars (2 bars to a pkg.), crushed
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
In a separate bowl, combine salt, baking soda and flour. Gradually add flour mixture to the egg mixture, combining well. Alternately stir in oats, all chips and crushed toffee bars until combined.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. For soft cookies, bake 7-10 minutes. Let rest on cookie sheet 10 minutes, before removing. Cool on rack or parchment-lined tray.
Makes 64 cookies.
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