Wednesday, 11 December 2013

on baking fails and cookie swaps

smitten kitchen's brownie roll-out cookies
do you have days when your efforts in the kitchen go awry? when recipes that should work fail? well, that is what i experienced in the fortnight of baking for the great food blogger cookie swap. i was keen on sub-continental khatai, a wonderful snow white biscuit that dissolves in the mouth like fine sand under the feet on a beach. i have memories of eating these with late afternoon tea at my phoopi’s house in lahore. the batch that i made was a variation on the traditional khatai as they had a fair bit of gram flour. they tasted lovely and were much appreciated by colleagues at work, friends and family but the recipe proved to be tricky. the second try involved ghraybeh, a shortbread like lebanese biscuit that echoed the feel of khatai, gently scented with orange blossom. once again the recipe i used failed me because the consistency of the dough did not match the description.

a recipe that is unable to live up to itself irks me. the mere fact that the biscuits tasted delicious was not good enough. so notwithstanding o’s grumbling about our flat becoming a bakery i decided it was time to pick a fool proof recipe. so i turned to smitten kitchen. deb perelman’s mama’s recipe for brownie roll-out cookies have an even temperament. i know that her recipes are arduously tested and perfected. they always work and have never failed me.

i baked these brown roll-out cookies at midnight on the weekend before the cookie swap deadline and the night before r and i took a whirlwind trip to lille. their constitution is part-cookie and part-biscuit as they have a firm outer edge that hems a soft centre. there is just the right balance of cocoa for a firm chocolate personality without becoming too rich.

stacked and ready to be packed
deb calls them brownie roll-out cookies, her mama says they are chocolate sugar cookies but for me that midnight they were well and truly ‘saviour cookies’. i have barely adapted the recipe, more from necessity than a real desire for change. i must confess i was tempted to add some spice – perhaps some ground cardamom or orange zest but was held back by a fortnight of culinary misses.

{brownie roll-out cookies}
a very slightly adapted smitten kitchen recipe

three hundred and seventy five grams flour
five grams fleur de sel
half a teaspoon baking powder
two hundred and twenty-five unsalted butter, softened
three hundred grams golden caster sugar
two eggs
one teaspoon vanilla extract
sixty grams unsweetened cocoa (i used callebaut)

whisk the flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. add the dry ingredients in stages mixing until smooth. wrap the dough in cling-film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

preheat your oven to one hundred and eighty celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment.

deb says to roll the cookie dough on a floured surface. however, i found it easier to use two sheets of baking parchment as this keeps the dough from sticking and getting over-floured. the dough should be rolled to around one cm thickness.

use a cookie cutter to cut your cookies. i used a simple one with a scalloped edge. place the cookies on the lined sheet and bake for around nine to eleven minutes. the cookies are ready when the edges are firm and the centre puffs but still remains soft.

transfer to cooling rack, allowing the cookies to cool fully before packing and dispatching them.

i would like to thank quips and dip for her lovely nutty bailey's chocolate chip cookies, this baker girl for her truffle centred chocolate chip cookies and katiesprog for her raspberry-white chocolate cookies. the hubby had plenty of the three different batches for afternoon tea.  

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