Small town woes

Today my boyfriend and I went to Taste of Champaign-Urbana, a local food festival intended to showcase local restaurants, to see what there was to see (and eat).   The food was priced far too high for its mediocre quality, but I suppose the festival did give an accurate depiction of local fare.  After all, the quality of restaurants here is always qualified by the fact that, despite the presence of a large university, this is a middle-of-nowhere set of cities.  We describe restaurants as having "good (insert type here) food... for Champaign."  So I suppose, in that spirit, the food festival was a good festival... for Champaign.

The problem with this is that I am often disappointed when I go out places here, which means I find myself less inclined to want to go out places, and end up watching Quantum Leap on Hulu instead.  Oh, right, and looking around for new recipes so that I can cook fun stuff for myself, since I clearly can't rely on the restaurants around here for new and interesting foods (and because it's so much less expensive to cook even fancy foods at home).

Thus I continue on with my kitchen projects, and present for you this weekend's cookie endeavor, with its usual set of quirks.

101. Chocolate Malt Sandwiches
These rich chocolate cookies are so good, and aside from one special ingredient, were pretty easy and quick to make:

The main cookie part in this recipe has mostly typical ingredients, including Dutch cocoa to give it a strong chocolate flavor.  It also has a good helping of malted milk powder and a specialty ingredient called crème fraîche.  The malted milk is responsible for the nice chewy texture of these cookies, and I suppose the crème fraîche helps to make the cookie flavor just a little bit richer.

Before I go on, I suppose I should talk about this funny ingredient with all the accents.  Crème fraîche, or "krem fresh" for those who, like me, don't do French, is a nutty sour cream traditional in, you guessed it, France.  In the United States, it can be purchased for something like $5 for 8 oz, or you can make the equivalent amount for about $1 (and a couple days of waiting) by following the instructions in the above link.  I chose the cheap option, and whipped the rest with sugar to put on my nectarine slices.  Another inexpensive option, as suggested by a friend, is to use regular sour cream as a substitute.

The cookies on their own were delicious, and I didn't think they lacked anything, but my cookbook demanded filling.  In the spirit of completing the cookbook, I proceeded to make a decadent mix of nearly a whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, butter, a cup of malted milk, cream cheese, half and half, and vanilla.  This was chilled, whipped, and put on the previously baked cookies.  It turns out they taste even better with the filling: both parts are very chocolate-y, but nothing is too rich all together, and the chewy texture of the cookies keep the filling from smooshing out of the center, which is always a plus.

I have one other comment before I stop talking about this recipe: there are some strange quantities various recipes in this book call for (such as 2C plus 2T of flour), and some quantity errors (particularly between tablespoons and teaspoons) that lead me to believe that much of this cookbook was made from rescaled recipes and lots of cut-and-paste.  My best proof for the latter is the final sentence in this recipe, which gives the storage instructions.  In my opinion, it is the best sentence in the entire book.
Cookies can be refrigerated between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
This is why I don't worry about following instructions exactly.  I will be storing these in the refrigerator, which is definitely not at room temperature.


  1. You re-did you blog slightly. It's pretty. hehe...I like it! (Although I kinda did prefer the older, more rustic feel though.) *sigh*. It's still pretty though.

    Anyways, if it is any consolation to you, I'm in a town of about 3500 right now. (Approximate only because it's not big enough to be it's own census metropolitan area; and therefore, trying to get accurate statistics about the number of people living here is not exactly easy.)

    Then again, you are also born/from a country that almost seemingly make it a point to bastardize other cultures in a quest for global and moral supremacy. So....*shrug* meh... (paraphrased Gilmore Girls).

    Pity that you don't do French. J'adore une fille qui parler Français.

    P.S. That link is do NOT pronounce it "krem fresh". It is very close mind you, but it's still not quite there. (Sorry, if I seem picky with mon Français.)

    Perhaps you should write a letter to the editor pointing out such grammatical errors.

    (P.S. BTW - I finally watched Julie & this where you got the inspiration from?)

    Just be glad that they're not calling for 187.5 g of flour. (Though, I'm guessing that with you being a physicist and all, that you can probably GET the $3000 lab-grade scale and borrow it for home (domestic) use least until someone notices.) ;o)

  2. I kind of liked the other one, but it was basically a cut-and-paste template with half of the elements not working... so I opted for a more controllable (although less cute) layout.

    The most important part of the link, for me, was the instruction on how to make the stuff, so feel free to be picky with your French, and I will continue to be picky with my wallet.

    Re: your P.S., I've been doing this project since late July of 2008, well before I'd ever heard of Julie & Julia... my inspiration for this project was simply that everything in the cookbook I bought looked good, I want to be able to make better cookies, and I like getting involved in long, drawn-out projects. Plus it seemed like an interesting way to start grad school.



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