Assignment #1: Creative Experimentation (with Cookies!)

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PROMPT

"This is a playful exercise in applied creative thinking, which should touch on areas of experimentation, discovery, failure, and documenting process. Document your process with text and images including ideation, inspiration, mistakes, experimentation, testing, feedback, iteration, comparison (if applicable) and final recipe in both the design notebook and as the first blog entry. You should also evaluate what makes your cookie creative."

For this assignment we were to "reinvent" the cookie to try and come up with a new idea that is creative and innovative. Personally I was pretty excited to do this as a homework assignment because I love experimenting with food! This had a little different spin though, mostly because cookies are (generally) expected to be sweet and dessert-like. So, in an effort to make sure my cookies weren't totally gross, I started the brainstorming process by constraining the "sweet" theme and thinking about what types of cookies might be out there waiting to be discovered. I included a photo of my thought process, which was pretty much just an exercise in spit-balling ideas based on some of my favorite food combinations.

BRAINSTORMING

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From this initial brainstorm I settled on four different combinations I would try. The plan would be to make all four and choose the best to make for Tuesday's class "cookie day". The four that made the cut were:

Cranberry & Mashed Potato: This was a play on my favorite Thanksgiving dinner combo -- mixing my cranberries in my mashed potatoes, of course.

Beer, Pickles & Pretzel: One of my favorite pub snack combos is beer, pickles and pretzels. I figured there just had to be a way to make these into a cookie... stay tuned to see how it turned out.

Wine & Cheese: Again, one of my favorite combinations. Wine and cheese always go together so well, so I figured mixing them into cookie form was bound to be (at least somewhat?) successful.

Coconut Curry & Mint: This idea was based almost entirely on my roommates and their love of Thai food! Almost everyday I come home to a house that reeks (in a good way!) of curry. So, I just had to experiment and see if there was a way to make this awesome dish into a dessert-like treat.

TIME TO BAKE

After conducting an inventory of my kitchen (and a quick trip to the grocery store), I had the ingredients I needed to start baking.

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Like I do with many creative projects like this, I jumped right into the process and starting mixing ingredients. I decided to start with a more sweet base for the Cranberry & Mashed Potato, Wine & Cheese and Coconut Curry & Mint cookies. Using an excerpt from "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", I chose to use a modified version of the book's recipe for the "Classic Sugar Cookie".

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I knew I had to switch it up a bit for the Beer, Pickles & Pretzel cookie base since none of the main ingredients are very sweet in nature. I settled on a basic Martha Stewart recipe for cornmeal cookies to use as a base for this flavor.

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Before long, the mixtures were set and the cookie balls were rolled. I used parchment paper to get the least amount of stick to the pan, and set the oven to 375 degrees and popped them in (and kept my fingers crossed).

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Surprisingly, they held up really well! After about 12 minutes in the oven, I took them out to let them cool before taste testing began.

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TASTE TEST TIME

Now it was time to test each cookie to see how they turned out. I relied on my roommates (who were reluctant at first) to give me their unbiased opinions. The results are documented below!

Last Place: Beer, Pickles & Pretzel

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These cookies were.... interesting? That's probably the nicest way to put it. They were definitely much more savory than I thought they would be. I felt as though they could likely be improved with some more experimentation (different flavor beers, different relish recipes, etc), but since there were much better flavors that came out of this project I decided to focus my effort on those instead. Needless to say, I won't be baking with beer and pickles in the near future!

Third Place: Wine & Cheese

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Again, these were a bit... different. Although the wine flavor and Parmesan cheese definitely went together nicely, the cookies were a little strange with a strong wine after-taste. As it turns out, boozy cookies have a pretty weird effect. They might be better with a grape juice instead of a wine, which could have a similar effect to the "wine" flavor but without the strange liquor after-taste.

Second Place: Cranberry & Mashed Potato

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This flavor was a pretty close second. I feel as though with a little more thought on the potato incorporation (better mashing, higher potato ratio, etc) they could have been a bit better. But, the official taste testers thought they were pretty good overall!

First Place: Coconut Curry & Mint

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These were a hit! I had a feeling that the coconut would really complement the hot yellow curry well, and it did. In addition to mint and coconut extract, I included coconut flakes to add to the texture which made them a bit chewier, too. These will be the chosen flavor for cookie show and tell this week in class.

The project was a success because this flavor is novel, feasible and valuable! It meets all three characteristics of what makes something creative.

The final recipe:

Marin's Coconut Curry & Mint Cookies

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 large egg (whisked)
2 tsp hot yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp mint extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Coconut flakes
Melted chocolate (to drizzle, if desired)

Combine butter, sugar, egg and extracts and mix thoroughly using an electric mixer. Combine the remaining ingredients and fold into the dough, mixing well. (Refrigerate the dough if needed to make more firm before baking).

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown on the edges. Drizzle with chocolate and additional coconut flakes if desired. Enjoy! :)

4 Comments

I love your bold experimentation! I would have been nervous to try these combinations…cool to see that they all held up as cookies! Nice job navigating the baking process and documenting everything. I'm excited to try yours tomorrow!

Wow!! I am so impressed with the ideas you have come up with! All of these cookies sound delicious and I've definitely never seen those combinations in a cookie before. I look forward to sampling these of course. I also think that your presentation and the looks of the cookies are picture perfect! Great job!

You made me want to bake these cookies. I like your approach to cooking for this assignment: doing some ideation first, choosing what you think will work, implementing and testing. I wish I did my cooking so logically too =) I sincerely believe beer, pickles and pretzels combination deserves more experiments in the future!

It sounds like you did a nice thorough job with taste testing your cookies, but I’m curious why you didn’t experiment with the final concept (or didn’t write about it)? Either way, it’s cool that you went for four radically different combinations in your test, rather than variations on a clear theme! I like your brainstorming, you definitely came up with some combinations that are not normally part of cookies! I wonder if you could have pushed even further by starting with some odd (or tasty) ingredients, then trying to build them into interesting cookie ideas?

Nice documentation of the process, the pictures really show your effort!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Marin Blair published on October 27, 2013 9:43 PM.

Test Entry was the previous entry in this blog.

Assignment #2: Mind Mapping & Silly Ideas is the next entry in this blog.

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