July 1, 2014 at 1:00 am

Let's Talk Food: Cookies that improve with time

Be sure to refrigerate the Brownie Cookie dough before scooping. (Teri Lyn Fisher Photography)

Editor’s note: You might remember my friend Eric from previous Let’s Talk Foods, including 2-box brownies and cookie-decorating tips, among others . Today, he’s taking the reins. I’ll be back, but you can keep an eye out for Eric, Dawn (who shared her Strawberry Shortcake last week) and possibly other newsroom friends writing future columns, too. — Maureen

No one thinks twice about leaving chili or soup in the fridge overnight to let the flavors develop. And that’s what marinating is all about, of course.

But what I thought was a quirk of one of my recipes turns out to be a real thing: Sometimes cookies taste better the next day, too. I’ve known this for a long time with the chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve developed over the years, but it happened again over two recent weekends with other cookie recipes.

I was the “ghostbaker” for Auntie Em in Stagecrafters’ production of “Wizard of Oz” in Royal Oak. In Act I, Auntie Em brings out cookies for the farmhands, and the head of props asked me to provide them so they’d have something real and good to eat instead of fake prop cookies.

I went with my go-to chocolate chip cookies for dress rehearsals and opening weekend. They’re always a hit.

But for the next two weekends, I experimented. I had a request for oatmeal raisin. I don’t like those myself, so I turned to “Crazy About Cookies” by Krystina Castella (Sterling, $17.95). The result didn’t make me scrunch my nose in distaste, so I figured it was a good recipe. Then, when I snuck one a couple nights later between scenes, I actually liked it; they’d improved with time. I’d even consider eating another someday.

I’m a dark chocaholic, so for closing weekend, I went with brownie cookies, also from “Crazy About Cookies,” because they sounded wonderful. (Any recipe that requires me to melt three pounds of bittersweet chocolate with a pound of butter — I had to quadruple the recipe — has to be good, right?)

I tasted a cooled one right off the cookie sheet and was underwhelmed. It was a good chocolate cookie, but it wasn’t a great one. When the cast started oohing and aahing over the extras I took in the next day, though, I had another go. Lo and behold, it was delicious. It walked the border between cookie and brownie perfectly — fudgy and not too cake-y. The intense chocolate lingered on the palate in a good way.

So I learned an important lesson: Don’t gobble all the cookies right away. Let them sit a day, and you may wind up with something even better.

Below are the recipes for “Crazy About Cookies’ ” oatmeal raisin and brownie cookies. Both recipes include nuts, which I left out because nuts in cookies and brownies are gross (the Cowardly Lion and some of my fellow Munchkins will back me up).

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From “Crazy About Cookies” by Krystina Castella

Note: While they taste good, the dough doesn’t spread like in the picture. You’ll have to flatten them out before baking if you want them thin.

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons apple juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 cookie sheets.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the apple juice and vanilla.

Gradually add the flour mixture until well blended. Stir in the oats, raisins and nuts.

Drop 2-tablespoon mounds of dough on the cookie sheets 2½ inches apart and flatten (if desired). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool on the pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Makes 24 cookies.

Brownie Cookies

From “Crazy About Cookies”

Note: Dough will look more like brownie batter at first but becomes scoopable and holds its shape when refrigerated as directed.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup butter

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate

¾ light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 large eggs

1¼ cup walnut halves (optional)

Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly until melted.

Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and blend in the eggs and walnuts, if using.

Gradually add the flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop 2-tablespoon mounds of dough on the cookie sheets 2½ inches apart and bake for 12-16 minutes, until set around the edges and soft in the center. Transfer to racks to cool.

Makes 18 cookies.

Tip: If you’re not up for double-boilering, you could nuke it instead. I’d probably start the chocolate first in a few revolutions before adding the butter since the butter will melt a lot faster. Since I was doing three pounds at once, I just put it in my stock pot and did it directly over really low heat so I could keep an eye on it.

If you want thin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, you need to flatten the dough for ... (Teri Lyn Fisher Photography)