Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Playing Catch Up ...

OK, I'm optimistically thinking the worst of my summer 'crunch' is over and I can get back to my blogging duties as I'm sure everyone is just upset to no end that I haven't been giving the detailed reports on my cookie baking ventures!  I said I was being optimistic, right?!

So no time to go back and document all of my trials and tribulations with the cookies the past few weeks but I'll do my best in the re-cap that follows. Just a few words to the wise - dipping things in chocolate to cover mistakes and add flavor is a GREAT plan, doing so in 90 degree heat with 80% humidity?... not so much.  Also, those "pinwheel" type cookies may look cool, but they are no easy task - not to mention the fact that mine were more like 'pin-ovals' as they only looked somewhat round if you used your imagination.  Which by the way, you'll need to do with most the past few weeks cookies since any recent attempt at 'food photography' has been, similar to my blogging, non-existent, but I'll see if I can't pirate a few pics here and there to liven things up a bit. But, considering the aforementioned 'pin-blobs,' it's probably just as well that the 'evidence' has all been eaten!

So let's see - I'd say the Molasses Crinkles were the last real 'home run' cookies, after that came the Ginger Lemon Pinwheels.  Nice flavor, a bit labor intensive but was helpful in that I could make the dough and refrigerate it ahead of time and then in theory just needed to 'slice and bake' them.  Didn't plan on having to re-roll and re-shape most of them.  These were a light cookie, and I think a great flavor combination, but if you make these know that they are not 'crisp' or buttery at all - since there's hardly any butter in them, but were more dense and chewy than you would expect from looking at them.

Along with the pinwheels that week there were cookies from some guy named John who must know Martha Stewart - he made a cookie and threw all kinds of stuff in it - hence 'John's Kitchen Sink Cookies'  anything with chocolate and pecans in it can not be bad, these also had raisins and oats for good measure.

Ok, now I'm only a week behind ... let's see last week was when I had the misguided enlightened moment of thinking 'these orange cookies are too plain and a little bland, I know I'll dip them in chocolate.'  Even after trying to refrigerate and/or freeze them (it didn't work), and then waiting a good 8 hours for them to set (still didn't work), I think I would've been better off squeezing some chocolate coating into each cookie bag and then just tossing the cookie in on top of it - kind of like a dipper.  I dropped them off with fingers crossed that they wouldn't all be a gloppy, gooey, stuck in the bag, chocolatey mess for those who ate them.

The cookie I'd actually planned for this week was my tried and true Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti with espresso powder from an old Williams Sonoma cookie cookbook.  Now these were always intended to be dipped in chocolate and I can tell you that there is nothing I'd rather have with a cup of coffee than one (or several) of these biscotti.  If you've never made biscotti and want to give it a try - this is the one to do - another slam dunk - uh, sorry for all the sports analogies!  I actually found the recipe online, lucky for you, as I'd likely never get around to typing it up.  Just a footnote on this - the recipe calls for forming the (very sticky) dough into two logs - which you can do, but will end up with VERY big and long biscotti's ... making four logs and baking them two to a pan on parchment all at the same time works perfectly as long as you rotate the pans once or twice.

Hey that's it!  Now I'm current - and this week was supposed to be reminiscent of my favorite summer treat: a Root Beer Float!  I honestly can't remember the last time I had one - maybe many years ago up in Michigan with family when a required part of the vacation was going to the A&W Drive-In joint and getting served by the car hops! Mmmm Frosty Mugs!

Well, my intentions on this one were good - I'd found a few different recipes and because I'd never made them before I decided to try two different versions.  As a disclaimer I'll give my personal opinion that both cookies were good - but neither tasted anything like a root beer float!  Too bad... both versions are posted - one was made with Root Beer extract - which isn't so easy to find in these parts - I actually used something called 'Root Beer Flavoring' which is the extract without the alcohol.  Those cookies, Version #1, tasted nothing like Root Beer but rather resembled a really good Brown Sugar cookie with more of a cakey texture.

I was more worried about Version #2, since this used actual Root Beer that was boiled down to a reduction and I just didn't think the Root Beer flavor would come through, and I was right.  This cookie was a little darker, a little denser and chewier maybe, and didn't rise as much - this one had more of a unique flavor.  Again, I would never have guessed Root Beer Float, but I think the fact that the butter was 'sort of' browned first and then along with the dark brown sugar together it gave it a very different flavor, I don't know how to describe it, so hopefully if you swing by Gilda's club you can judge for yourself.  I guess if you use your imagination and you eat it WHILE you're having a Root Beer Float, then I think you'd be justified in calling it a 'Root Beer Float Cookie' ... you know, kind of like how 'Coffee Cake' doesn't really have anything to do with coffee flavor.

Unfortunately neither of these recipes quite made the volume I needed, so a long about 11:00 p.m. and in a pinch for a few dozen more cookies for Gilda's Club I went browsing through my cookie magazines and happened upon another favorite - mainly because it's simple and only has about 5 ingredients ... Lemon Coconut Meringues.  Whip up some egg whites, add some sugar, a little lemon juice and zest and coconut and that's it.  They take a little longer to bake, but I was able to do them all at once while I was packaging up the Root Beer Float Cookies.  I've made these quite often, but they're not for every occasion, they are extremely fragile - if you ever tried to ship these, they'd get so pulverized en-route that the person on the receiving end would think you were sending them powdered sugar.  It's not an exaggeration - a much younger, dumber version of my present self may know this for a fact. (fyi, the recipe link is not the one I used, someday I'll get around to posting the real one.)

Whew .. glad that's done - now I can get back to training and racing and LUNA runs and long bike rides and even some 'cookies on the side' .. you know for family and friends and weddings and showers and such .... does the fun EVER end!?

1 comment:

  1. The lemon coconut was a little bit of heaven.