Monday, March 1, 2010

Blue Blue Blueberry

This past weekend, I was stumped. A few months ago, when I started this blog, I made a list of all the ideas I had to turn into cookies. Well, I referred to my list this past Friday and found, I had completed them all. Some still need some tweeking, but overall the list was done. So I asked my boyfriend and faithful cookie tester, Keith, what kind of cookies he would like to have this time. His answer was blueberry - followed by the comment "if anyone can make a blueberry cookie, it's you." Ahhh, such a sweet guy.

So, I hit the store in search of blueberries. Don't ask me why I've been on this summertime fruit kick lately. Maybe it's the terrible winter we've been having. I just want something to remind me of warmer and less snowy days. While I was thinking about my blueberry cookies, I decided to also grab some blueberry jam - since I wasn't sure exactly what kind of recipe I was going to come up with.

Well, I have made a blueberry cookie before, which also contained dried cranberries. They were only good warm, had a texture more like a scone and didn't have a whole lot of blueberry flavor. Although my dad and I found they were very good right out of the over with a dollop of whipped cream - but what isn't good with whipped cream?... Anyways, I digress.

I wanted my cookies to actually be cookies and taste blueberry through and through. Since I had plans for almost the whole weekend, I decided to bake on Friday night. So, I threw together a recipe and set to baking. I've been told many times that blueberry and lemon goes great together, so I decided to try to incorporate some lemon into my recipe. Also, while I was at it, I thought I would use almond extract instead of vanilla for a little different flavor. Since blueberries and lemons are both acidic, I threw in a little baking soda to cut the acidity.

In the first try of the recipe, I put about 1/2 cup of blueberries into the food processor and then ran them through a sieve. So I was left with a little more than 1/4 cup of blueberry juice, which I mixed into the cookie dough. I put the remaining 3/4 cup blueberries whole into the mix at the very end. I used a little lemon zest for flavor. The cookies tasted good, but were really sweet. The almond extract was very strong and there wasn't much blueberry flavor. The juice really did nothing for the taste and there ended up only being 1 or 2 blueberries in each cookie. Also, the cookies spread very thin and were very buttery. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of trial #1, because I gave them all out to taste testers for feedback. So I decided to go back to the drawing board...

For trial #2, I decided to skip the blueberry juice and just add 1/4 cup of the blueberry jam I had purchased (a good move on my part). Then I was able to add the entire 1 1/4 cup of whole blueberries to the recipe. Since there is sugar in the jam, I cut my sugar by about 1/4 cup. I also cut the butter and almond extract. I decided to use a little less baking soda and add baking powder instead to reduce the amount of spread.

The second trial came out much better. The jam even made the cookies turn blue. I received several comments from testers about the color being a little strange, but really there is not enough blue food in the world, if you ask me. So the flavor was good when the cookies were fresh from the oven. Lots of blueberry flavor. Keith said he thought they still were a little sweet or buttery, but the main thing I could still taste was the almond extract. Keith and I both took cookies to work for sampling. Unfortunately, overnight something magical (in a bad way) happened inside the cookie jar. The cookies became very soft, I suppose absorbing the juice from the berries and the blueberry flavor faded away a bit. On the upside, the almond flavor also mellowed. Both my and Keith's coworkers felt that the cookies were still too sweet and everyone commented that they were now too soft. My coworkers thought there was not enough blueberry flavor and said I should try dried blueberries or possible candy the blueberries before putting them in. Obviously, I'm going to need another trial.

Even so, we enjoyed eating them and they made cute pictures. I haven't seen very many blue cookies in my lifetime. :)