After utilizing every inch of counter space in my kitchen and shelf in my refrigerator, I think I can say that I have something different. Here's a rundown of how I got from drink recipes to pumpkins...
The first thing that came to mind when I heard of this assignment was Ginger Limeade. I had it Masa downtown once, and have been perfecting a recipe ever since. The flavor combination of ginger and lime is one of my favorites. I started thinking about how I could translate this to a cookie. A ginger lime cookie? A ginger cookie with lime filling? Lime frosting? If I could make a ginger limeade cookie why not other drinks?
So, for the rest of the week I got really fixed on making cookies shaped like little cups and filling them with some kind of liquid or pudding for a while. I also remembered the "snowball cookies" I made at home growing up [walnuts, butter, and lots of powedered sugar]. If I could snowballs, why not change the shape and make snowmen? Then I realized that this was basically just three of the same cookies stacked on top of each other and moved on.
I had a breakthrough moment when I thought I had thought of a unique drink that was sweet and dessert-like that I could somehow translate to a cookie: horchata cookies. After some Googling, it turns out these already exist.
I read through the recommended links and a reference in the el Bulli excerpt reminded me of an innovative food I had once tried in Washington DC. It was wasabi guacamole with wonton wrap chips, and it was hands down one of my favorite things I've eaten. Also one of the most creative. I searched around and found the restaurant I had eaten at - SEI. I checked out their menus for some inspiration. What I found was that many of their Specialty Rolls had really unique flavor combinations and weren't traditional at all.
I decided to try to create a cookie using wonton wraps and something that paired well with cream cheese. Given the season, my first instinct was pumpkin. I did some searching to find other flavors that would pair well the two and came up with cranberries.
I took a look at the ideas I had and picked out 3 favorites:
1. The ginger limeade cookies
2. The pumpkin wonton cookies
3. The hot cocoa marshmallow cookies
I headed to the store and picked up some ingredients.
I started with the pumpkin wonton cookies:
I made a filling using:
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup canned cranberries
I laid out the wonton wraps and put a spoonful of filling in each. Using water, I sealed up the edges in a couple of different ways. I baked them at 400* for 10 minutes.
A few of the comments I got from friends/roommates:
"This is more of a savory dessert. Not very sweet"
"I like the textures"
"Try frying it instead of baking it"
I thought about these comments while I made the second type of cookie: Ginger Limeade
I decided the best way to pair the flavors would be with one as the cookie base and the other as a frosting or glaze. I consulted my taste testers and we decided that a lime cookie with a ginger glaze would be best. I used existing recipes for reference and adapted them to be more lime flavored and to include the ginger flavor. The recipe I created is as follows:
1/8 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
Dollop onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 400* for 8 minutes. I peeked in the oven a few minute before they were done and realized there was nowhere for the glaze to stay on the cookie so I made an X in some of them with a knife.
[The extra lime juice made the batter extra runny, so I added more flour. This lead to more flour-y tasting cookies in the end]
First I made a ginger simple syrup [much like ginger limeade]
3.5 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
2 tbs minced ginger
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Then I combined 3 tbs of this mixture with 1 cup powdered sugar.
I drizzled this mixture over the lime cookies. Most of it just went on the baking sheet, but the glaze hardened pretty quickly.
Comments from the tasters:
"This is tasty!"
"I can't really taste the ginger."
"It's mostly just a normal cookie."
"It's really sticky."
Knowing that I was trying to end up with just one final recipe, I had to decide which idea had the most potential. I decided not to pursue the marshmallow and cocoa idea since I felt like the two ideas I had already started had the potential to be a lot more interesting. The ginger limeade cookies got a bit more love from my audience, but I had less ideas for improving them beyond being "just a normal cookie." Much of the base cookie recipe was adapted from other recipes. I decided to go with the wonton pumpkin cookies with a few adaptations.
First, I tried just adding the ginger glaze to the wonton cookies. It was weird.
It did get me thinking about how I could elevate the cookies I already had though, and eventually I came up with a few things that worked.
Changes I Made
Since I thought the first batch was a bit too savory, I decided to create a frosting. Since I wanted to keep the cream cheese element and didn't want a traditional frosting to clash with it, I made a pretty standard cream cheese frosting:
2 oz cream cheese
1/8 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Since the cream cheese was now going to be on top, I instead filled the wonton wraps with a small dollop of pumpkin and a small dollop of cranberry. I didn't mix them together this time because I wanted the flavors to be more distinct. I sealed them up in the flattest way I could, making a little square.
I decided I didn't want to fry them. I've had cold cream cheese wontons before, and they're not great. Knowing I was bringing these to class when they wouldn't be hot out of the oil, I had to come up with another plan. I decided on brushing some melted butter on them halfway through the baking process. [400* for 10 minutes]
I topped the cookies with the frosting and sprinkled a tiny bit of cinnamon on them for color.
Here's the finished result!