Assignment 1: Cookies (edited)

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When this assignment was received, I immediately recalled two cookie notions that have been floating in my head for years: 1) Drambuie cookies, and 2) Cream of Wheat (CoW) cookies. The latter is, I think, an attempt to recreate something I remember my grandmother making when I was a child. The idea of hot, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth CoW took the first round.

Base ingredients would have to be flour, butter, and sugar (type to be determined). I needed to figure out whether the CoW needed to be pre-cooked or was cooked during preparation and baking. I considered additional flavor ingredients of Vanilla, Almond Extract, Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts, Orange Zest, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Honey, Maple Syrup, and Cream Cheese. (Some of these components were suggested by my sister, who has never been so enthusiastic about a course assignment!)

I started with the basic cookie dough recipe found in Ratio (1 part sugar, 2 parts fat (butter), 3 parts flour). This is, as the author points out, a basic shortbread recipe. Preparation of this (in small quantity, 300 degrees for 30 minutes) yielded a cookie that was a bit sweeter that I like, but seemed a good starting point.

Photos below show batter and prepared cookies from this recipe.

IMG_0047.jpgIMG_0051.jpg

Next, I wanted to determine what portion of the flour I would replace with CoW, and whether it needed to be pre-cooked or not. I felt there was a greater likelihood of success with cooked CoW. I prepared 1 serving according to package directions and a second batch of basic dough. After allowing 15 minutes for the CoW to cool so that the butter would not be completely melted, I began adding CoW. I blended in 1 tbsp. at a time, tasting a very small sample after each addition. At 4 tbsp. I thought the flavor balance was about where I wanted it, but the dough had become pretty moist due to both butter melting and the semi-liquid consistency of the CoW. I added 3 tbsp. of flour to stabilized and baked 4 of the cookies. These turned out very soft and chewy, a bit doughy but delicious.

I separated a bit of the dough and tried adding cream cheese for flavor. This proved to rich (at least as a dough) so I backed off and tried the sour cream. I added 3 tbsp. (one at a time) to find a good flavor balance. Another tbsp. of flour was needed to keep at what I judged to be a proper dough consistency. Baking these (30 minutes at 300 degrees) produced the results pictured below.

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These cookies were flavorful, but a little too doughy in the center. As the picture shows, they browned nicely on the bottom, but acquired little color on the top. This is somewhat characteristic of my oven. I wanted to address the consistency in the next batch.

I cracked an egg, blended and added about 1/2 to the remaining batter.When I sampled this dough, I noticed that the settling time had allowed some flavor blending to occur. This resulted in the final recipe including a refrigeration period prior to baking. The results here were approaching the right texture and flavor.

I decided to try a full batch with the addition of a bit of Cream of Tartar. To address the browning issue, I tried increasing the oven temp. to 325 degrees and the baking time to 35 minutes. I also added 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. The batter and resulting cookies are pictured below.

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These cookies were a bit too dry, and too dark. They still did not brown nicely on top. Further experimentation was called for, but it was 4 am and each batch took 1/2 hour to bake. Based on acceptable appearance and flavor, I called it a good base for further improvement on another occasion.

I plan to try 325 degrees for 30 minutes and perhaps brushing the top with melted butter during baking to promote browning and attempt to preserve a little more moisture. My first flavor adjustment will likely be adding some cinnamon. I think there are numerous variations of this recipe in the future.

Final Recipe (to date):

Cream of Wheat/Sour Cream Shortbread

Preheat oven to 325°

Prepare 1 serving Cream of Wheat (3/4 to 1 cup)
Set aside to cool at room temperature

Blend:
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar

Add:
1 stick unsalted butter

Cream together until fluffy

Add:
6 tbsp sour cream
1/2tsp vanilla
1 egg

Cream together until fluffy

Cream in 14 tbsp flour

Add:
8 tbsp Cream of Wheat (Warm to room temp. - NOT hot)

Mix (Butter should melt a little. Dough will be soft and sticky)

Add 2 - 4 tbsp additional flour gradually until dough thickens.
(Will form standing peaks)

Optional: Add ¼ to ½ cup chopped pecans

Chill dough for a minimum of 10 minutes

Drop onto cookie sheet in ¾ to 1" balls. Keep 2" apart

Bake at 325° for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned.

2 Comments

Hi Julia,
this definitely seems like a good opportunity to try and create a cookie type that's been floating in your head (personally I've never had Cream of Wheat before, but it seems like an interesting thing to put in a cookie).

You mention some flavor ingredients you considered, but you don't say if or how you experimented with these. I do like the fact that you tried the basic cookie dough recipe before moving on though.

It's Tuesday evening now and you haven't updated the process, would have been interesting to see how this all turned out for you.

One more thing I noticed is that you didn't put your x500 as a tag, you need to do that. Oh, and good pictures make a blog more interesting to read ;)

I had to look up both of your specialty ingredients. Both seem like they could make very unique cookies. I like that you discussed the assignment with your sister. By bouncing ideas off each other, you arrived at a long and varied list of potential ingredients. I also like your deliberate and incremental approach to reaching your vision. It would be easy to rush into a concept that you had been contemplating for a long time, but you considered additional possibilities. The biggest thing your blog post is missing is content. There is no conclusion to the investigation you began. It would be great to see text and pictures describing the experimentation you completed.
-Josh

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This page contains a single entry by ivers469 published on October 28, 2013 5:22 PM.

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