Monday, October 17, 2016

#19 ~ Chocolate Pretzels ( Schokoladen-Brezeln) ~ Germany & Austria (page 144)

Mmmm....chocolate pretzels! Not pretzels really, but chocolate cookies shaped like pretzels, dipped in more chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate! They sound delicious and believe me the photo in the book makes these cookies look even better.

I decided to up my game this week and choose a recipe that was slightly more involved and labour-intensive than the simple cookies I've been making lately. I really don't want to be stuck with all the hard stuff at the end of this journey...whenever that might be. This recipe has been challenging so far so I'm documenting my progress as I go along, while the horrible memories are fresh in my mind. ;-)

Okay, 1:10 pm - The dough is made and currently refrigerating and I'm starting to get the feeling back in my hands after some extreme mixing! The whole thing seemed simple enough - a mixture of flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. A mixture of butter, sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, ground walnuts and finely grated chocolate. I went old-school today and used my hand-mixer like the recipe does instead of my stand mixer but that might have been a mistake. After mixing in half of the dry ingredients the mixer was putting up a fight and the recipe does say to "vigorously stir in the remaining dry ingredients" with a wooden spoon so that is what I attempted to do. I got out my new Ikea wooden spoon and tried to vigorously stir but the dough was so thick and sticky that it was impossible. I was looking at a bowl of dry clumpy broken up bits of chocolate stuff, wondering how I could ever turn it into one cohesive unit and at that point I considered throwing it all away and calling this recipe done. But I always hate the thought of wasting ingredients, especially chocolate and nuts since they're pricey, so I resorted to what I do in situations like this and used my hands (and some muscle) to try and make something of the whole mess. I'm not sure a dough like this wants to be kneaded like it was, but there really was no choice, and it's possible that these will be some tough cookies. I managed to turn it into a dough-like thing that smells wonderful but time will tell if these bake up properly...

2:45 pm - This recipe has turned into the disaster I feared it would. The dough was too dry to be able to form it into the 10-inch long ropes I needed to make the pretzel shapes. I could only roll it about 4 inches and then it would start to crumble, so no pretzels. Not wanting to waste the dough I formed it into little logs and baked up a batch like that but when I tasted the cookies they really weren't very good - despite how chocolately they smelled, they don't taste very much like chocolate and are quite bland.

And now, not wanting to waste more chocolate on lousy cookies I've decided not to dip them after all but instead to call it a day and sadly declare this recipe a failure. Sorry Jen, no cookies tomorrow when we get together. :-(

This is what we should have been eating:


But this is what I ended up with - cookies that look horribly unappealing and very much like little pieces of p**p (I can't bring myself to type that word on a cookie blog!)


Hopefully my next cookie adventure is more successful.

Monday, October 10, 2016

#18 ~ Little Sugar Cakes (Sykur Kaka) ~ Iceland (page 117)

Baking two weeks in a row! I'm setting some kind of a record here.  This week's cookie is Little Sugar Cakes - light, almond-flavoured sugar cookies popular in Iceland.

The dough is often tinted with food colouring to produce pastel-shaded cookies but I opted to keep it simple and leave the dough as it was since I'm not a big fan of food colouring. I did decorate them with some sugar crystals and rainbow sprinkles so they wouldn't look so plain.

This was a really easy dough to prepare in the stand mixer and then roll out between sheets of waxed paper. It's always fun to get a chance to use cookie cutters and this time I decided to make teapots. I misjudged and ended up rolling the dough thicker than the recommended 1/8", more like 1/4" so the cookies took a bit longer to bake but they were still nice and crisp with a subtle almond flavour. I would definitely make this recipe again.






Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#17 ~ Swedish Gingersnaps (Ingefarspepparkakor) ~ Sweden (page 135)

Okay, time to climb back on the cookie wagon after Jen left me this comment on my last blog post - all in fun, of course - "Making an inquiry as to when you will be baking again? Not only looking forward to a post but also a taste testing of your delicious creations. ;-)" So the answer to the question is, I baked today. :-)

I figured I'd bake something spicy that Robert might enjoy so he won't be complaining (all in fun, of course) that my baking sucks. So, Swedish Gingersnaps it is - a snap to mix up this spicy dough with a touch of cocoa in it; a breeze to roll the dough into little balls and squish them down with the bottom of a sugar-dipped glass; then 10 minutes in the oven and call it done.


A simple cookie with a nice spicy flavour that goes very well with a cup of tea. And, I think maybe Robert liked them.

Up Next: who knows what or especially when!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#16 ~ Peanut Butter Sandies ~ United States (page 53)

Mmmm, peanut butter cookies! There's not a whole lot to say about these. They were a standard p.b. cookie, a bit on the crunchy side as opposed to a melt-in-your-mouth cookie, but still quite enjoyable.

The only change I made to the recipe was to add some peanut butter chips because in my opinion they just wouldn't be as good without the chips.

The chopped peanuts on top gave them a nice appearance but they mostly ended up falling off as the cookie was eaten so I don't think I'd do that again.

Finally, the extra-special thing I did was to make some of the cookies without the chopped peanuts especially for Robert (because I figured he'd complain about that), only for him to tell me that he doesn't even like peanut butter cookies. Oh well, I tried. LOL 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

#15 ~ Ginger Nuts ~ Australia (page 250)

So I'm back at this after more than a year.  Yikes. It may take me a lifetime to bake my way through this book at the rate I'm going, but whatever.

I realized that part of what was keeping me from doing this project was 1) the thought of doing these blog posts although I really do want to have a record of this adventure and 2) mostly the thought of having to take the photos for the post. I really do not enjoy taking pictures.

So Jen suggested that she would take the pictures for me since I always bring her some of the cookies to try and I decided I'll just write quick basic posts to document the recipe. No more long tales.

That said, this week's cookie was Ginger Nuts from Australia. I finally got to use some of my Golden Syrup that I found at Bulk Barn. This is a thick sugar cane syrup which originates from the UK. The label on the jar shows a bizarre drawing of a dead lion with bees buzzing around him and the quote "out of the strong came forth sweetness". Weird, but it's apparently a biblical reference although no one is sure of its significance to this product.

Anyway, the dough mixed up really quickly although it was very dry and took a bit of work to form into ball shapes. The cookies, although not much to look at, had a nice spicy flavour and the golden syrup did add a unique-tasting sweetness to them. They were nice with the lemon-grapefruit green tea we drank with them.



Up Next: I have no idea. I'm not planning that far ahead.

Postscript (April 11, 2016): While I was reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon last night before going to sleep, I came across this:

Fiona's curly dark head poked through the study doorway, interrupting the excitement. "There's fresh ginger-nut biscuits, just baked." The scent of warm ginger came into the study with her, wafting enticingly from her apron.

I found it amusing to read this, knowing exactly what they were having with their tea and cocoa!






Thursday, March 12, 2015

#14 ~ Pecan Lace Cookies Do-Over

More than a month has passed since my last post and what have I baked from my book? The same thing I made last time - Pecan Lace Cookies! Although I wasn't terribly impressed with these sweet, crunchy wafers, both Matthew and Jen assured me that they were pretty good. I decided to give them another go with the aim of doing it right this time, hoping for better results.

I watched my portioning of the dough very carefully, measuring level teaspoons onto the baking tray as the book had advised. I really should have heeded that advice first time around because it made a huge difference in the appearance of the cookies. And since I was happy with them I figured they were worthy of a chocolate drizzle this time around...

...and a "cookies on a plate" photo!


Next Up: Orange Meltaways


Monday, February 2, 2015

#14 ~ Pecan Lace Cookies ~ United States (page 52)

I'm trying to figure out what to say about these "cookies" and all I can come up with so far is that they are the weirdest cookie I have ever made in my life. The recipe book refers to them as "rich with the taste of brown sugar, butter, and pecans", "fragile, brittle-crisp wafers", and "so lacy and thin you can see right through them". They are indeed all that, which I suppose means that I made them correctly, but these don't qualify as cookies in my opinion. More like some sort of candy - very sugary, and as you eat them the sugar tends to become sticky and I worry that I might lose a filling in the process. Anyway, here's how the whole adventure went down this morning...

Boil butter, add corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Remove from heat and stir in oatmeal, flour, vanilla and toasted pecans. Very simple really, and within minutes you have little globs of rather wet, gooey "dough" on your baking sheet, spaced very far apart since they will spread with abandon all over the place, which means you can only bake nine cookies at a time.


At this point I'll mention that I followed the given instructions to grease the sheet even though a little voice in my head was saying, "You know, parchment paper really seems like a better idea for this sort of thing." But I ignored the voice because I tend to do what people tell me and if the book said grease, then grease it was. Which led me to a pan of cookies that wanted to stay there instead of making the journey to my cooling racks. 


I tried warming the cookies in the oven for a minute or two as the book suggested but this didn't help in any way. As I tried to lift them the edges folded in (you can see the evidence above) and the centers sort of disappeared so that there was a hole in middle of each cookie. By this point I was feeling quite discouraged and didn't even think to take a photo of that mess.  I persevered and baked yet another batch on a greased pan with much the same result and finally that little voice in my head yelled at me, "Hey you! Forget what the recipe book says and use some parchment paper!", which I did and this time I ended up with a sheet of cookies that I could just peel from the paper once they'd cooled. Genius. Although the evidence here clearly shows why you're instructed to "spoon dough by very small teaspoonfuls". I was a bit over-zealous with my portioning here but I was getting tired of these cookies by now and just wanted to have the whole experience behind me as quickly as possible.


I was also supposed to make a chocolate glaze to drizzle over the cooled wafers but somehow I just didn't feel that these cookies were deserving of that chocolate. It seemed like a waste even though I generally live by the motto that chocolate makes everything better. These cookies didn't even deserve my usual "cookies on a plate" photo! LOL


Next Up: Orange Meltaways