Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of Ginger and Lemon and Cream (Cheese) - Part The Second

All I really wanted were cookies that I could rely on to a) make my mouth curl into a smile when I bit into them and 2) not make me have to fight my wallet to afford them. Oh, and c) they had to actually look kind of cool, too. I'd already established the parameters that would satisfy the first part: gingery, snappy, lemony and creamy. I quickly gave up on the second part because if these cookies could satisfy the first part, I wouldn't care about the second part! (I know what you're thinking: If I didn't really care about how much they cost, why not just go with Newman's? I'm glad you asked! As soon as I come up with an answer that makes any kind of sense, I'll let you know. Suffice it to say that I got a baking bug up my butter and I couldn't let the idea go.) And I had no idea how I'd accomplish c).

The first attempt was last December, just before my birthday, using what I'm now calling my "classic" gingersnap recipe which usually yields these:

Mix the dough, roll the dough into small balls, bake the dough, cool the cookies, make the filling, assemble and serve! Perfection, yes? Um. No. Even cutting back on the baking soda, they still rose too much to be good sandwich cookies (although they were still quite tasty). To use the vernacular: drat!

A little closer to my birthday I tried again. After consulting the wondrous Google (because love them though I may, none of my cookbooks had what I was looking for), I found and adapted these two recipes:

(mostly for the filling)

In the world of baking, I'm what you might call a recipe "tweaker"; I love to find recipes that interest me and then nudge them along to get slightly different results. It's not that I think I can do better than the originators; I don't have that kind of hubris. I just give the recipes a little push to get the dish I'm looking for. The above proved to be ideal for this approach.They had to be, because my birthday was fast approaching, my big sister was arriving soon for a visit and I had already confirmed a full house for the celebration.

Please allow me to digress a little to explain about my birthday. Twenty years ago (okay, it's more than a little digression) I left my twenties behind me and celebrated my thirtieth birthday. It lasted for about a week and included baking a cake (which I mentioned here), making dinner for a few friends and then having a big lunch for a larger group of friends. A good time was had by all! Over the years I've distilled that joyous experience into an afternoon tea with a select group of friends and I bake up a storm for that day. The ginger-lemon creams were part of the storm for my fiftieth (and if they were a success I'd bake them for myself from time to time) so I needed to get the recipe to work post-haste! Digression ends after I tell you that I'll talk about my Birthday Tea in more depth at another time. Digression ends.

I sort of smushed the two new recipes together with elements of my classic gingersnaps  and came up with something that I thought would do the trick, so long as I could get my technique ironed out. It's not just the mixing of the ingredients, it's also the rolling and cutting of the dough, which I hadn't ever done for cookies. And because these are sandwich cookies I had to make twice as many as the recipe called for -- which meant that the process would take twice as long. Good thing I've got strong arms and more than a dollop of patience! (But then, how often is patience just another word for obsession?)

The result of all this smushing, rolling, cutting and filling was a cookie that was tasty, exceptionally snappy and looked kind of cool:

They were a hit at the Birthday Tea and at Christmas but they still weren't what I was looking for. They weren't lemony enough. They were a tad bit too snappy. Okay. I'll fess up: they were on the hard side. They tasted good but they were a bit too much work. Hmmmm.... Perhaps I shouldn't have put quite so much cornstarch in the filling when it refused to set the way I thought it should. (Gee. Ya think?) Also, the cool factor wasn't quite there, yet, and I still had no idea what to do about it.

Three rounds in and my quest had only just started. I had only just begun to bake.

End Part The Second



  1. I love that you're a recipe tweaker. And btw, so do all the people I work with, hang out with, etc etc. Recipe tweaking means testing. And retesting. And re-retesting. You do pack the best goodie boxes ;)