Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Got Tea?

Just a quick post about the cookies for the last week of August ... Chai Snickerdoodles and Coconut Biscotti.  My personal assessment, the Chai cookies were easy and delicious and a nice change of flavor from a regular sugar cookie or traditional snickerdoodle.  The mix of chai spices, traditionally Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger & Cloves (or Allspice as used in this recipe) was subtle but definitely there, I think it helped that the recipe called for first mixing the spices with sugar and then reserving some to roll the unbaked cookies in - a really nice touch.  I would make these again in a minute.

As for the Coconut Biscotti, just so-so.  It was ok in that it was a crunchy cookie - and in that regard very suitable for dunking in a cup of tea - but the coconut wasn't all that pronounced. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I didn't miss an ingredient, like the vanilla extract maybe - sorry.  I can't be sure, and damn Bravo and those Jersey housewives for distracting me so much!  But the worse thing is not knowing for sure.  If I actually did make them according to the recipe, and I make them again, and they come out exactly the same - well, I'd be pretty disappointed.  So it may be awhile before this one ever gets another shot, there's WAY too many great cookies and sure things out there to waste time and ingredients on an average cookie!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eat Your Fruits & Veggies

You would likely have to eat a whole lot of the cookies from the past few weeks to meet the minimum daily requirement of 5 servings of fruits & vegetables.  But in a perfect world, the cookies can at least contribute in a small way to the ever elusive 'healthy lifestyle.'  They managed to rank on the health meter because they contained things like fresh cherries, bananas, and even zucchini; healthy nuts and whole grains, whoo hoo - I'll take two!

So, ok, they also had flour and butter and sugar, and one could argue that it kind of offset the healthy ingredients, but it's not all bad.  There's more to a cookie than it's contents.  It's the combination of ingredients that makes for great flavors - the lemon AND the zucchini AND cornmeal (actually it was 'polenta' a finer grind of cornmeal), the banana AND the peanut butter - with a nod to Elvis for the Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal 
Cookies - at least there was oatmeal - and it wasn't fried! And there were fresh cherries AND the almonds in the tea cakes.  You know the pairing of ingredients can beat each one individually - like chocolate & peanut butter, or chocolate & pretzels, or chocolate & orange - ok, chocolate on it's own probably trumps just about everything, but you get the idea! I know for a fact it was the lemon that gave the Lemon-Zucchini Cornmeal Cookies their flavor - I thought the zucchini was undetectable but while the lemon gave it flavor it was the cornmeal that gave it texture - I think the zucchini added a little color and honestly, little else. But hopefully, better than what goes into a cookie is what you get out of it - a little enjoyment and 3 or 4 bites of wonder and escape and with any luck you're in good company - that's what makes a cookie great!

To wrap up the cookie talk for that past two weeks, I can say that other than the ice cream sandwich cookies earlier this summer, The Cherry Almond Tea Cakes and the slightly less nutritious (ok, they had a little bit of butter), Salted Peanut Cookie Brittle were my first official departures from regular 'cookies.' Since the tea cakes were baked in mini muffin tins and the brittle cookies were actually a bar cookie.  Have to admit that bar cookie thing is alright - definitely cuts down on the oven time, something that is very welcomed in this heat wave of a summer..and just like that, I'm caught up for a day ... just in time to figure out what I'm going to bake on Tuesday.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Please sir, may I have s'more?

So it's no secret that the Root Beer Float cookies were a bit of a flop - not that they didn't taste good, but perhaps just mis-named, since no one would've eaten either variety and thought 'root beer float.' After that, logic would say, do something that can't be mistaken, Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin, but, no.  Instead, I of course decide to give this whole 'bake a cookie that's supposed to taste like something else' another shot.  Now, I'd like to say I'd planned to bake the S'mores cookies to coincide with 'National Smores Day' on August 10th, but even I'm not that much of a nerd to know such a thing.  Well, ok, I know about it now - but that was only after a few google searches to try to come up with something interesting to say about s'mores. Sadly, announcing the upcoming 'National Smores Day' is about the best I've got. That and the little known trivia tidbit that the first known "Some More" recipe was published in a 1927 Girl Scout Handbook, "Tramping and Trailing."  Hmm .. "Girls Scouting" must have meant something a little different in those days.

So as not to tarnish my relations and the Castle family legacy with the Girl Scouts, I'll stop there, and return to the cookies.  S'mores - I'm not sure how these compared to the real thing - and I had a difficult decision to make as I stumbled upon many cookie versions of this flavor combination - which means there may be another variety coming soon.  As for this recipe, all the ingredients were there - crushed graham crackers and mini chocolate chips in the cookie dough, and toasted marshmallows along with chunks of Hershey Bars on top.  They had to be close, maybe spot on had I burnt the marshmallows!

(Also delivered this week, Lemon Cloud Tea Cookies, really light, not at all sweet and a 'melt in your mouth' texture that isn't totally loaded with butter.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cookies On The Side

I had some fun this week doing some decorated cookies for a bridal shower on Saturday.  Congratulations to Betsy to Mike!  The Luau theme of the shower made for some fun (and colorful) options. I think I'm finally getting the hang of this stuff.
Palm Trees, Hibiscus Flowers, Pineapples, Margarita's (my favorite - if only the stems weren't so fragile!) and Flip Flops - lots of Flip Flops!