Friday, December 21, 2007

Icebox Cookie Variations

icebox cookie dough

After reading “a slice-and-bake cookie palette” at today, I was inspired to try my own variations of her already fantastic recipe. I decided to go with a lemon pepper version and a toasted coconut, cherry version.

Version One
Lemon Pepper Icebox Cookies
lemmon pepper icebox cookie dough

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Zest from one lemon

Follow the directions for “Slice-and-Bake Cookie” dough located here, add the black pepper and lemon zest to the dough and incorporate thoroughly. Roll the dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap Roll the dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and freeze for 30-45 minutes (I found that the dough was easier to work with after 45 minutes).

Remove the dough from the freezer, unwrap it and cut it into ¼ inch rounds. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

lemmon pepper icebox cookie

My thoughts:
Meh, they were kind of bland.

Version Two
cherries and coconut

Dried Cherry and Toasted Coconut Icebox Cookies
¼ cup dried cherries – finely chopped
¼ cup toasted coconut

Basically the same instructions as above but this time after making the cookie dough, incorporate the cherries and toasted coconut.
toasted coconut, cherry icebox cookies

My thoughts:
This version was definitely the way to go! Dried Cherry and Toasted Coconut Icebox Cookies are a five-berry keeper.
berry ranking scale -- 5 berries!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recipe Review Special

Part Two
Here is part two of my recipe review special featuring Food Network's “Twelve Days of Cookies”.

Moravian Spice Wafers
From Food Network Kitchens
morovian spice cookie

The recipe is located here and it really is quite the recipe. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, white pepper, mustard, molasses…. They really aren’t messing around with the ingredients list.

I love spice cookies and was really excited to try this recipe. It didn’t really disappoint me but it was kind of a pain. Rolling the dough to 1/16th of an inch, freezing the dough, using a cookie cutter, freezing again… come on.

Though the prep work involved did try my patience, the cookies reminded me a lot of pepparkakors, which I’m a big fan of. Overall, I would give this recipe a very respectable 3 out of 5 berries.
berry ranking scale -- 3 berries
morovian spice cookies

Like I mentioned above, I thought the effort necessary to make these cookies wasn’t really justified by the final product. For my second and subsequent batches, I used a different method, which basically involved making drop cookies that were rolled in sugar and spice.

Create a sugar and spice mixture consisting of ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice. Roll rounded teaspoons of the batter in the sugar mix and place on the baking sheet about an inch and a half apart. Press down on each dough ball with the back of a fork, vertically and horizontally, creating a criss-cross pattern on each cookie.
morovian spice cookie my version

Bake for 10-12 minutes, sprinkle with a little more of the sugar mixture, allow to cool to room temperature and ENJOY! My version of these cookies got rave reviews.
spice cookies

What people are saying about Blackberry Pockets’ Moravian Spice Cookies:
“Best cookies ever”
“I just EVOO’d in my pants!”
“What is that? Freaking spice?”

With acclaim like that, these cookies get bumped up to a 4-berry ranking!

berry ranking scale -- 4 berries

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Blackberry Pockets Special

Recipe Review
berry ranking scale -- 5 berries!

Welcome to a special recipe review edition of Blackberry Pockets. These recipes are part of the Food Network’s “Twelve Days of Cookies”, an annual newsletter they publish that provides exclusive holiday cookie recipes, and will be ranked using my newly developed Five Berry Scale!

The Twelve Days of Cookies contains, appropriately, twelve cookie recipes plus one bonus but unfortunately, I only had time to test two. I did initially plan to blog the entire series but as it turns out, the holiday season has not left me with much free time for writing (I really need to start bringing the laptop to the bar…). In any case, the recipe under evaluation today is Almond Lace Cookies (Florentines) from The Food Network Kitchens.

*In order to properly judge these recipes, I made sure to adhere strictly to the recipe and also made three simple judging criteria, which are the following:

Accessibility: Does the recipe consist of ingredients that can be found at an average grocery store (for reasonable prices)?

Pay off: Is the resulting quality of the cookies worth the necessary effort required to make them?

Taste: Obviously the most important criterion and the one that carries the most weight in the decision making process — do the cookies taste good?

Almond Lace Cookies (Florentines)

almond lace cookies

My thoughts:
These cookies consisted of simple, easy to find ingredients that many people would usually have around the house, especially around the holiday baking season. The need to boil sugar and essentially make candy to use in the batter was, although not terribly difficult, kind of a pain. Ultimately, I found their taste to be a kind of bland and the texture to be somewhat gritty. I probably won’t make them again but they were very pretty and if you really like almonds, they are worth trying.
Overall rank: 3 out of 5
berry ranking scale -- 3 berries

*Note, I found the following sentence of the recipe to be somewhat confusing and thought I would clarify it for you in case you make the same mistake I did and burn your cookies:
“Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes.”

The way the sentence is constructed, I took it to mean that halfway through the baking time was 10 to 11 minutes in. However, this was incorrect. 10 to 11 minutes is the total and MAXIMUM amount of time these cookies should be baked.

I took the liberty of rewriting that section. For clarity's sake:
Bake 1 pan at a time, about 10 to 11 minutes, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.