Sunday, October 18, 2009

Battle Cookies

This week features another baking battle. Through a quirk of subconscious thought both Adri and I decided to do pecan related cookies. Her's were pecan pie cookies and mine were pecan bourbon oatmeal cookies.

This night be as much about my battle with my own impatience as it was with Adri.

We begin with toasting the pecans. Easy as cake. 350F for about ten minutes.

Toss with a little salt and 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.

Here's where impatience gets the best of me. Mix the butter, sugar, and shortening until "light and fluffy". Sure, I can do that. I'm a great, strapping young man. I've cut trails through rugged mountains, felled mighty pines with naught but my double-bit axe. Never mind that the recipe explicitly states that she used a stand mixer because the process takes a long time. Never mind that a culinary inclined friend warned me that, not only was this step important, but that doing it by hand would suck. My testosterone would carry the day!
So, I stir. And stir. And my arm's getting tired, but this doesn't bother me. I have set my Herculean strength to this task and no amount of stirring will deter me. And I stir. What is "light and fluffy" anyway? What scale is it even measured on? I bet it's one of those obscure measures, like the dram..... Stir, stir, stir. Why would anyone want to do this for a living? Stir, stir, stir. Man, this is boring....... I wonder how much longer I have to do this......stir, stir, stir..... WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN ME LORD? AM I SISYPHUS, DAMNED TO PUSH MY ROCK FOR ALL ETERNITY? WILL MY PEOPLE NEVER REACH THE PROMISED LAND? WHAT DOES LIGHT AND FLUFFY MEAN? MAN, MY ARM HURTS. HAS IT REALLY ONLY BEEN THREE MINUTES? GOOD ENOUGH!

In retrospect, the conscientious application of technology would have saved me considerable woe. Unfortunately, neither Adri nor I have a proper mixer, so I was damned to use the vessel at the end of my arm. Needless to say, we will be investing in a mixer before another baking battle. My own refusal to embrace 19th century technology and the deleterious effect television has had on my attention span would be my undoing.

Mix in the vanilla, an egg, and the bourbon. For the purposes of this challenge I was able to purchase exactly two tablespoons of bourbon from my local booze-monger. Any picture showing me consuming a liquid which may in some passing way resemble bourbon is to be disregarded. It was apple juice, Mom.

Combine your dry ingredients and spices and mix into the batter small portions at a time. This keeps you from having a great big mess all over the apartment. Chop the pecan (I used the worlds smallest food processor for this) and fold in to the batter.

I ran a test batch first, just to see how it went. It didn't. The cookies spread all over the place, were gooey in the middle and burnt on the outside.

No matter. Thermodynamics will save me! Pop the dough in the fridge to chill for a bit. Have another glass of juice while I wait.

Better this time. Still spreading all over the place, but at least they're cooking evenly. Very crunchy. Dad will love these.

So, I'm a bit disappointed with the final result. They're very tasty cookies, but I seem unable to get the desired result. I lay the blame fully at the feet of the liberal media!

Now, before I start my half of this post there are a few things I'd like to point out. 1) Jay DID try to use the tiny food processor to get that light and fluffy thing going, which I have done in much larger, much more respectable machines. This baby tried, but nope, was NOT having it. 2) Everyone involved was of drinking age. Just so you know. Not that we do that often or to excess, but apple juice is totally cool. 3) We did not take nearly enough photos this week and WILL do better next week. I promise. 4) It's all my fault this is a day late, I was very tired all Sunday and fell asleep before Jay finished his bit. At like 8 pm. I am my mother.

So, My cookies, you say? They were delicious. They were a recipe from a butter box, so they are not by any means fantastic for you. But they do really really taste like tiny pecan pies, and HAVE to be better for you than a big ol' slice of that stuff. They are two different parts, a sugar cookie on the bottom and pie filling on top.

Like Jay I had to cream my butter by hand. Unlike Jay, I knew I was going to be doing this and took it slow. Real slow. In fact let the butter get way way too warm for these cookies to really hold together. The cookie batter itself is just a simple vanilla sugar cookie. Butter, vanilla, brown sugar, egg, flour, baking powder. Now, something else came up this evening that I feel I have to point out. Instead of every other weekend we've done this where we go shopping together to get ingredients, this weekend Jay had to go by himself. I had work to do in the land of pretty things and shiny objects, which sadly took most of the day. Jay looked over both lists not so well and ended up short on brown sugar and got baking SODA instead of baking POWDER. Now this wouldn't be an issue if I were a real person with a real stocked kitchen and had cream of tartar to substitute in. But I'm not, I'm a "college kid" and therefore lack normal rational kitchen things. So Thankfully Katie our guest judge had arrived by that point and I was able to get a ride out to the store while Jay wrestled with his "Light and fluffy". Katie saved the day. Lemme tell you.

I guess I did have a leg up on this. I've made these cookies for several years now, always at Christmas time for family and friends on our massive cookie plates that we give out as gifts. I have played the trails and tribulations game with them. I have learned to out wit the spreading, gooey mess that these can easily turn into. I have learned that mini muffin tins can do so much for you beyond tiny awesome muffins. They can make misbehaving cookies into little pie shaped angels. And that's exactly what I did. The topping for the cookies IS pecan pie filling. Delicious. I didn't get a photo of the precooked topping, but it's very like the cooked look. Only liquid-y and not crispy.

Gaze people! This may be the ONLY time where I have baked/cooked something that resulted in greater beauty than James. I am GOOD at cookies. He really picked the wrong person to battle here.

He conceded and Katie agreed that I had made a superior cookie. He still swears that he will beat me at a baking challenge yet. Katie was an awesome judge for us, but did keep us a good bit distracted, hence the lack of photos taken. She was awesome enough to teach us more about wine and how to pair it with ridiculous things like cookies. I'm always up for a new lesson about things that will make me a better more cultured person. We appologize to everyone at the local sandwich shop that cookies where not furnished on Saturday night! We did NOT forget you! We just didn't remember until after that shift had ended.

Of course, there will be a poll this week, so that you can tell Jay and I how YOU
would vote.

And the Interwebs support our in house judge! Adri Wins!


  1. Haha, Adri's are a lot prettier than yours. Don't forget... cookies can be mailed :).

  2. Haha. I'm sorry to hear our cookies didn't work out for you. I feel we've let you down... but I certainly can't imagine trying to take these on without the kitchenaid. Your epic description of your fall from pride was hilarious however. better luck next time.

  3. Don't feel good about the cookies Talley! He will probably make them again and maybe then we'll have a mixer so they'll come out better. They were awesome cookies. :3