Painful cookies, take two

This weekend has been pretty busy times, especially as I decided I would sort through my clothes and get rid of those that are (1) worn out, (2) too big, or (3) not things I want to wear anymore.  The second and third categories were much easier to deal with, as I just had to pull them out of bins in my closet, but that first category, well....  The logic goes like this: I wear the shirts I like best pretty regularly, which means they get worn out quickly, but they're still my favorite shirts so I don't want to get rid of them.

For now, I will fail a little bit at my closet cleaning and set those worn but loved shirts aside in the hope that someday I'll find the time to use the images on the front for something else, like a witty quilt.  We'll see.  I just hate to see the Runnin' Rhino go into the garbage like he's not helping me comment on society.

94. Cigarettes Russes
Blame the name on Martha Stewart - I don't want any food I eat to be called cigarettes - but these are really delicious!  You may recall that back in December I made cookie sticks much like these, with a thin batter and red food-coloring stripes.  Although there are subtle differences in the dough, the main difference with this new recipe is that the finished product is dipped in bittersweet chocolate.  This chocolate coating adds elegance and flavor to the experience.

I'm sure it's obvious that I like these cookies.  However, I did not enjoy preparing them.  As I mentioned when I made the other cookie sticks, these must be rolled up immediately after they are taken out of the oven.  This means that, no matter what interesting and new method I come up with to roll them, I always end up with badly burned fingertips and a sense of disappointment that I can't roll them to look as beautiful as the Pirouettes you can buy at the grocery store.  The necessity of rolling them while still hot also made it so I could only bake three at a time, making it a 2-3 hour endeavor to bake all of them.  Clearly, this kind of recipe is intended for people who have lots of free time.  Someday when I find that kind of free time (and when all the nerves in my fingertips go dead) I'll have to give these another go.


Current Project Status: 1 Complete, 2 at ~50%

I have this problem that I'm always in the middle of some 100 different things at a time.  Okay, maybe 100 is a bit of hyperbole, but I have never done well with boredom, and so I always find new things to do.  As the semester draws to a close and the things I have to do demand more of my time, it's a good idea to finish projects without immediately starting new ones.  And since I'm excited about a couple that are currently going on or just finished, I'm going to talk about them here.

The first thing I want to talk about is a pair of socks I just finished knitting.  I started these in January, intending to give them to my dear friend Bonita for her birthday at the end of the month.  Unfortunately, I drastically underestimated the amount of time they would require, and overestimated my free time.  Four months later, I finally finished these, just in time to give them as a graduation present.

My halfway-done other project is not nearly so time-consuming, although it takes a long time to complete.  A month ago, I started making limoncello (lemon-infused vodka, basically), using this recipe.  Since Meyer lemons are expensive, I ended up substituting regular lemons in place of about half of them.  To make this, 100 proof vodka is poured over many lemon peels and set in an airtight jar in a closet somewhere for 40 days.  After 40 days (i.e. last night for me) a simple syrup and more vodka is added, and the whole concoction is once again left to sit in a cool, dark place for 40 days.  Word on the internet is that the longer you let this age, the smoother the taste gets. That said, the end of May should be pretty awesome.

93. Fig Pinwheels
My other halfway-complete project is my usual cookie baking, which I continued this week with an unusual take on Fig Newtons.  The dough for these consists of butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, and egg, like any standard cookie recipe.  The filling was made by boiling dried figs and golden raisins in apple and orange juice for about 40 minutes, and then putting it through a food processor until it was spreadable.  Once the cookie dough was made, it had to be chilled until I could roll it out into long sheets.  After spreading the fig mixture on these sheets, I rolled them up and cooled them until I could slice them without the rolls deforming too much.  Although this was a very easy recipe, the duration of this recipe (that is, time from mixing dough to finishing baking) was quite long, so I ended up doing laundry at the same time.  At the end of the day, these cookies turned out to be chewy and a little sweet, with the fig filling introducing just a little bit of stickiness to the texture experience.  They also look pretty impressive, and it turns out that dried figs are a lot cheaper than many other dried fruit I've had to purchase.  All in all, if I need to do chores around the house all day, these may be a good selection to make again.


Unbaked, these kind of looked like bacon...

Now is a very busy time for me, so I'll skip my usual small talk and go straight to cookie discussion:

92. Striped Icebox Cookies
You may be looking at the picture there and wondering how one achieves stripes in cookies like that.  There is a pretty simple explanation: the cookie dough is separated into four parts, rolled out into long rectangles, and frozen.  Then a mixture of dried cherries and cherry jam is spread on one rectangle, another is placed on top, a layer of cherry mixture is spread on top, and so on until the four-layer sandwich is complete.  This goes back in the freezer.  After an hour, the "sandwich" is sliced into 1/4" thick pieces, and we have striped cookies!  I overcooked these guys a little, but I still think they're pretty good.  The dough part is nice and crunchy, due in part to the cornmeal in it, and the cherry stuff gives a nice sweet and sticky contrast.  I will say, however, that I once again do not appreciate the use of dried cherries in the recipe, as I think it could work just fine (and taste almost exactly the same) with only jam, and would thus save me $4.  Aside from the unnecessary cost, I think these are good cookies, and would be nice for some kind of picnic or other occasion that calls for a crunchy cookie that won't fall apart easily.


Spring in the Midwest...

I love this time of year, not only for the flowers popping out of the ground, but also for the amazing way that the low temperature for one day is the high for the next, and vice-versa.  Last weekend was lovely and warm, which made for a nice day of baking, and a fantastic Easter afternoon spent flying a kite in the park.

91. Macadamia-Maple Sticky Bars
My big baking project on Saturday was these cookies, which really weren't that big of a project at all (which is good, because I spent most of the afternoon running errands).  In this recipe, a salty and buttery dough with toasted macadamia nuts mixed in is pressed into an 8x8" pan, refrigerated and then baked.  While the bottom crust is baking, candied ginger, heavy cream, maple syrup, maple sugar, and more macadamia nuts (plus some other basic ingredients) are heated together until the mixture starts to thicken.  This mixture is poured on top of the crust.  Now, I realize maple sugar is a less rare - and thus more expensive - ingredient, and I actually didn't notice the recipe called for it until it was too late to buy any.  What I did instead was I substituted a mix of brown sugar and maple syrup, although I added too much maple syrup, so that the top layer didn't become quite as solid as I think it should have (although it wasn't super runny either, so not a big failure).  These are really delicious bars - although the top layer is extremely sweet, the bottom is a little salty and not very sweet at all, which balances out the flavors nicely.  The ginger also adds a nice kick that I appreciated more a day or two after I made these.

Well, that's it for now.  I'm working on getting more sleep, which means getting to bed earlier.  That shouldn't be too much of a problem right now, as the cold makes me yearn for the blankets I so eagerly cast off last week.


Related Posts with Thumbnails