Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Back Where I Started, Or: Those Darned Ginger Lemon Cream Cookies

The impetus for this blog was a batch of lemon ginger cream cookies that a friend of ours tasted and caused him to enthuse that my culinary skills should be filling up the pages of a food blog. The jury is still out on the latter. And it's still out, as far as I'm concerned, on the tastiness of the lemon ginger creams. It's been a couple of years since I made them and part of that lag has been the fact that despite how much people have enjoyed them, I've felt they could be better.

And what, precisely, do I think can be better? The cookie: a little too thick, even though it was a good thickness for an ordinary cookie. The filling: too hard and a bit chalky in my hindsight. And the lemon flavoring wasn't quite right for what I wanted in that cookie. Of course, this could all be hindsight and "miss-remembering" considering so many people liked that last version. I think I have the right to second guess myself here, especially when that second guessing leads to another round of baking! (See? I create my own ulterior motives.)

A few months ago, I tested four(!) versions of this cookie. I found a secondary recipe for both the filling and the cookie and mixed and matched them with the cookie and filling from my last version. The group of friends who endured this test cursed me with thanks and compliments for a whole weekend. When the dust cleared, though, they were split on which cookie was better but approved of my original (but slightly tweaked) filling recipe.

The results, though ego-boosting, weren't conclusive enough for me, so I made my own decision about the cookie (a modified gingerbread cookie recipe) and kind of pulled elements from each of the filling recipes to create a third. And got down to baking another batch.

The first thing I did, though, was change my technique a little. I'd been using the whisk attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer to work the dough from start to finish. This time, though, I switched to the paddle attachment before I added the flour and it did a much better job of thoroughly mixing the dough. See? Always teaching myself the obvious. There was not a dry patch to be seen once I separated the dough into manageable batches and wrapped them in plastic. 

Ready for the chill stage.
 Rolling the dough out proved to be a little easier, too, which was good because I wanted a thinner cookie that I could bake for a shorter time.

Rounds upon rounds.
Nothing like having to bake twice as many to half as much. By the time I got done baking, all of my cooling rack were covered with stacks of cookies. I was afraid to count how many I'd made.

One of the things that I'm always afraid of is running out of filling, so I made a quadruple batch. 

Full of filling.
So. Much. Stirring! Working with this stuff is probably my biggest challenge because right now I don't have a method of easily doling out the right amount of filling per cookie. The pastry bags that I have aren't really suited for it, nor are any of the tips I have. I used a teaspoon for this batch but I can tell I'm going to have to make a trip down to N.Y. Cake to find the right equipment. (I'd send you to their Website but it appears to be a bit screwy at the moment, so, you'll have to imagine a giant room filled from stem to stern with all manner of cake baking and decorating utensils, tools, molds, and more.)

The end result was a cookie that I'm almost one hundred percent happy with. Of course, there's one more thing I think I want to try, but that's a story for another day.

Stacks and stack of ginger snacks.
As it stands, a batch went to my bread baking student Hannah (which was actually a ruse for me to send her one of my packages of instant yeast so that she'll have it for our next "lesson"), another went to two of my aunts in Florida (belated birthday gifts), some went to my father-in-law, and the rest got distributed to friends here. So far no one's been injured and I've seen lots of smiling faces. 

I might be onto something here.

Currently listening to: Al Jarreau - We Got By



  1. Nikolai still wants to know why none have gone to the cat.

    1. True. He thinks all baked goods should be food for cats.