Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Something Different ~ Pat's Oatmeal Cookies

It's funny how things go sometimes. About a month ago I saw a picture of iced oatmeal cookies on my travels of the internet. I kept thinking about them, craving iced oatmeal cookies. A couple of weeks later one of the food blogs I follow posted a recipe for iced oatmeal cookies! I decided I must make them. Before I'd had a chance to do so I was going through some family "treasures" looking for Mom and Dad's wedding photo negatives and came across this recipe for "Pat's Oatmeal Cookies" and figured why not give it a try and put icing on these.

The question is whose recipe was this? This looks like Granny Taylor's handwriting so it seems she got the recipe from somebody and thought it was worth having. But who is Pat? Mom wasn't a baker at all so I wouldn't think it came from her. The paper it's written on is dated 1954, the year that Granny, Mom and Ann travelled to Ireland so possibly it was cousin Pat Barnes' recipe.  A bit of a mystery.

The directions are very vague so I mixed the ingredients in the order that seemed to make sense based on my own baking experience. Once mixed I didn't have a lot of faith in the dough. It was really sticky and not very cookie-like. And the directions say to bake for 15 to 20 minutes which seems much too long for a cookie. I baked them about 12 minutes and ended up with a very small batch of twenty-one basic, homey (or homely!) cookies which are not very sweet but are surprisingly light. I can see why Granny would have liked these with her tea. I wonder if she ever baked them herself and especially wonder why Mom saved the recipe for all those years because I'm pretty sure that she never made them.

I decided to skip icing these cookies. I don't think sweet icing would have gone well with this type of cookie at all. These are meant to be enjoyed as is with a good cup of tea. This was a bit of a departure from my usual cookie challenge but it was fun to try out this old recipe. Next time I'll be back to baking from the International Cookie Cookbook.

Next Up: Piglets

Monday, September 8, 2014

#6 ~ Chocolate-Orange Sandwich Wafers (Biscotti Milano) ~ Italy (page 209)

So, I'm in the middle of baking these delicious-sounding cookies as I type this. How can this not be a delicious cookie when you combine orange and chocolate together and throw in some lemon zest too? However, things are not going quite as smoothly as I'd imagined they would. This is one of the recipes for which there is a photograph provided which in some ways is a good thing because I know what I should be aiming for in my finished product, but in some ways is a really bad thing because my cookies are not looking anything like that photo so far!

These are supposed to be wafers, which to me means very thin crisp cookies. The recipe said the dough would spread quite a bit during baking. My dough is heavy and sticky and is definitely not spreading in the heat of the oven. Perhaps my butter wasn't soft enough to begin with? I let it sit out overnight as I usually do but, hey, it's September 8th in Edmonton, it's snowing and the house isn't exactly what you would call warm so maybe my dough was off to a bad start from the get-go. To make things worse I've also managed to overcook one of my batches. I won't say burned but definitely darker than they should be. This recipes calls for a 375 degree oven, a temperature that I'll admit frightens me slightly when it comes to baking. It's a good thing I've been baking these in very small batches, leaving plenty of room between the cookies for all that spreading that was supposed to occur, or I'd have way more burned really dark cookies than I'd be happy with.

I will say that even though their appearance is less than attractive (compared to the book photo) at this point in the process, these "wafers" do smell delicious. Right now I'm just hoping that the chocolate filling and chocolate glaze will be the saving grace of what is looking like a very sad lot of cookies.

In all their glory! This is NOT how they should look.

Things are definitely looking up now that chocolate's been brought into the equation. The cookies have been sandwiched together with a thick chocolate cream just begging to be bitten into. Okay, I confess I couldn't wait any longer and even though they hadn't received their final dip into the chocolate glaze I ate one. Delicious! The orange flavour really comes through and the cookies, although not being the thin wafers they were supposed to be, have a nice crunchy texture. 

I can only imagine how much better these are going to taste with both ends dipped in chocolate glaze!

Four things I learned while making this recipe:

#1: Having a proper high-quality zester makes zesting oranges and lemons fast and efficient and is totally fun to use. Thanks Rob and Jen! 

#2: The dough was definitely too firm (probably because of the cold-ish butter) when I first started piping out the cookies hence the lack of spreading. As I progressed through the batches and the dough warmed up the cookies did spread somewhat but still not nearly as much as shown in the recipe book.

#3: Dipping cookie ends into a glaze is a messy business and not as easy as it would seem to do it neatly. The dipping glaze should have been more liquid to allow more of it to drain off the ends.

#4: Chocolate absolutely does turn sorry-looking cookies into something wonderful!

Next Up: hmmm...something a little bit different but still a cookie