There are however certain foods that it is better to buy than make. Bagels and Doughnuts spring to mind. I've made bagels and they were ok, but the amount of effort expended was in my opinion too great for the quality of the product. Doughnuts scare me because of all that hot oil. I've only just gotten my stove completely repaired after the great Jalapeno Jelly Explosion of 2009.
I was lulled into a false sense of security by a recipe in this month's Food and Wine Magazine for Eggnog Stuffed Cookies. They sounded delicious, and I had some eggnog in the fridge. I thought this would be a great new cookie to do the rounds at all the Christmas Parties I attend (all 2 of them lol)
little did I know the terror that would ensue hidden within 1 deceptively simple instruction.
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared eggnog
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons dark molasses
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting.
Make the filling
1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer at low speed, beat the softened cream cheese with the confectioner's sugar, eggnog, nutmeg and cinnamon. Freeze the filling until firm, about 30 minutes.
(It doesn't look that appetizing, but trust me, it tastes great)
Make the cookie dough
2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, ground ginger, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. In a large bowl using the electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the the brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and molasses.
4. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until they are incorporated. Using a 2 tablespoon-size scoop, scoop 24 mounds of the dough onto the baking sheets and refrigerate until the dough is slightly firm, about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 325F
6. Working with one baking sheet at a time, using floured hands, press a deep hollow in the center of each mound of dough and spoon in a level teaspoon of the cream cheese filling. Pinch the tops closed, creating a 'kiss'; be sure to seal any cracks or holes. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate until the cookies are firm, about 15 minutes.
(This is where all hell broke loose!)
(My 2 dozen cookies somehow became 19)
7. Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 30 minutes, until they are golden and the tops lightly cracked; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway though baking.
Makes 2 dozen cookies....well that's the theory :(
The problem as you can see was step 6. After the dough had sat in the fridge for 30 minutes it was too cold to mold and cracked when I tried to make the deep hollow. When the dough warmed up and softened it was too soft and pliable to shape with any ease. I eventually developed a bit of a technique, but I felt like I was back in high school art class trying to shape a very soft lump of clay. It is not easy to encase a soft filling inside a soft dough.
One confession that may have added to the difficulty. When I went to my pantry I discovered that I didn't have any dark brown sugar, only light brown. A quick search on the Internet said that you could substitute light for dark if you added some molasses - 1 tablespoon of molasses per cup of light brown sugar. I therefor added an extra teaspoon of molasses to the recipe, but I did increase the flour just slightly to balance the extra teaspoon of liquid.
How do they taste? In the cookies I baked the ratio of cookie to filling was not great enough. The cookie tasted great but felt too dry. It needs enough filling in each cookie to be in every bite, but as the dough is so fragile this seems almost impossible to do without lots of practice...
...and I have far more important things to do than practice stuffing cookies.