Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentines Day Cookies

For a couple of years, one of the cookies I am most asked for is a red-velvet sandwich cookie, recipe courtesy of Paula Deen. These cookies are delicious and very much like eating a piece of cake. The problem with the original recipe is 1. It has a thick layer of cream cheese icing, which while delicious is not safe for shipping and 2. The cookie layers are very much like cake and they tend to stick together, stick to your fingers, just generally make a mess. None of these are good qualities for a cookie sold on the internet and often shipped to family and friends.

Last night, I accepted my own personal challenge to turn the original sandwich cookie recipe into something a little easier to work with. Using my personal cookie ratio, I made adjustments to the recipe (mostly removing wet ingredients). The first batch was delicious, but still a little poofy and cakey (as you can see in the photo below):

By the time these came out of the oven, I was so psyched up for having a new recipe in the bag that I became really frustrated about the cakey-ness and immediately set to work making more adjustments to the recipe.

One ingredient that has a big effect on the texture of the cookie is eggs. The original recipe called for 2 eggs and that seemed like it might be too much for a chewy cookie texture. I also adjusted the leavening and sugar. After deciding on my adjustments, it was back to the mixer for batch #2.

Finally, success!! A red velvet "cookie" that is truly a cookie. Although the texture is no longer like cake, I managed to retain the delicious flavor of red velvet cake.

I googled online to find out if there was a way for me to prepare a cream cheese flavored royal icing, but apparently that concoction is a chemical impossibility. So, I settled for cream cheese icing on these. Here's a sample of the finished product:

These turned out cute and just in time for valentine's day. I am still working on the icing issue - since cream cheese icing doesn't set up and cream cheese spoils, these are not ideal for storing or shipping. I had a great idea this morning for an alternative to standard cream cheese icing and I plan to try it out tonight. I'll keep you posted on the results. As soon as I nail an icing solution these will be available on the website.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pucker Up Keylime

About two years ago, I began working on a keylime cookie at my father's request. I spent several months baking and adjusting and taste testing several cookies. Finally, after about 5 months, I found the perfect flavor combination. Believe me, creating a keylime recipe is no easy task. There is a lot of time involved in zesting and squeezing tiny limes - in general, I try to do a couple of pounds at a time and freeze the leftovers. Lime juice and zest will both last for a while in the freezer in an airtight container (although sometimes the zest can get a little discolored).

Anyways, despite having created a delicious cookie, my recipe produced a cookie that was just a little too delicate. In fact, I sell this cookie on my website, but find that some of the cookies usually end up broken with each shipment, which is not good service. So this week I set to work trying to create a better constructed keylime cookie with the same great flavor.

There are three books I have been reading and absorbing over the past couple of months - Ratios, Bakewise, and How Baking Works. All three books address the chemistry of baking and teach how ingredients work. The book, Ratios, was quite interesting in that the author proposes any recipe can be changed from crepe to pancake to biscuit to cookie to cake with just an adjustment of the ratio of ingredients. He proposes a couple of basic cookie ratios in his book - while I didn't find his ratios to be perfect for my purpose, I was able to use the information to find a common ratio among my favorite recipes, which has helped me to find my own perfect ratio for the chewy cookies I love to eat! -- I mean bake. :)

So, after working on juicing the tiny limes, I set to work on my new recipe. I adjusted the butter, flour, sugar and amount of lime juice. I was worried about adjusting the amount of juice, because I didn't want less lime flavor, so I added a little extra zest. As it turns out the new recipe was fantastic. The cookies are stronger - so far only one has broken in my cookie jar - and they still taste delicious. My keylime recipe also incorporates white chips for a little bit of sweet taste to offset the tanginess of the lime. I did find that with less lime juice, I may need to cut back a little on the chips, because these were a little too sweet.

Despite too many white chips - the cookies were wonderful. This is one of my most favorite recipes! I find that ironic, because I am not really a fan of lime flavor. In fact, I have never eaten keylime pie - but I am told the cookies taste just like it. There were only enough cookies to give to one taste tester - because my boyfriend's favorite dessert is keylime. So these are going fast!

If you want to try some, visit my website