Sunday, November 18, 2012

I rescue cookies.

At the beginning of November I had a cookie craving, and it occurred to me that I might as well make one of our favorite kinds of Christmas cookies; I could eat a few and freeze most of them, and be ahead of the to-do list. Our family's holiday traditions include platters piled with various kinds of cookies, most of which won't be seen again until the next Christmas. For this first session of baking I chose the soft Ginger Spice Cookies that feature an intoxicating combination of spices and diced candied ginger as well.

Something went wrong, or maybe a few things. I had made a note on the recipe card suggesting that I cut the sugar back another 1/4 cup from the previous alteration, because, "they are plenty sweet." I am reminded of the story about the farmer who discovered he could add some sawdust to his horse's feed and save money that way. He kept adding more and more sawdust and the horse seemed to do fine with it, until one day it died.

The recipe must have been just about perfect before I changed it just a little, and then the cookies came out terrible. Was it only the lack of sweetness that made them taste strongly of baking soda with pockets of overwhelming clove flavor? Or perhaps I hadn't mixed the dough enough? I thought I would have to throw them out.

But wait - couldn't they be used for something? If I dried them in the oven, and ground them finely in the food processor, I could use them as the basis for different cookies....so I tried just that. To the fine crumbs I added a cube of butter, an egg, and extra sugar and flour. A little more ground ginger and a tiny bit of cardamom. Then instead of dropping the dough by teaspoonfuls I chilled and rolled it, into trees. Now we have crisp gingerbread cookies that surprise the eater with an occasional tiny piece of candied ginger, and that warm your mouth with an even more complex and winning flavor. Alas, never to be duplicated.

This made me brave enough to tackle the other failed cookie product that had been sitting in the freezer for awhile, since the time I made some Russian Tea Cakes but only put in half as much flour as they needed. The buttery, pecan-studded cookie crumbs I had stuck in a jar in the freezer, being unwilling at the time to give up on them.

Now I dug them out and experimented in a similar way, adding an egg, sugar, flour, baking powder and lemon zest. I tried to roll this dough, too, but it would not hold together, so I shaped disks and stuck a pecan half on each one. Behold! Another new and non-repeatable Glad Christmas cookie, which the man of the house has tasted and approved. I do hope nonetheless that I can avoid making a yearly tradition of the Cookie Rescue.

9 comments:

elizabeth said...

very good! yay for cookie rescues! and for one of the kind! :)

Sarah said...

You're amazing! :) I'll have to remember how you rescue cookies the next time a kitchen production flops...maybe I won't become as upset and see possibilities instead!

Jeannette said...

Wow..I think this was brilliant...All those good ingredients and all that work were not wasted. And you were brave because to do this you had to risk more time and goodies; I am glad for you that it worked out in such a lovely way. The best thing about it all is the underlying picture of redeeming things and the perseverance exhibited in not being stopped by the discouragement of your failed experiments.

Harmony said...

Jeannette said it all! Looking forward to sampling these if there are any left frozen :)

calebandnicolette said...

What a great idea!!!!!

M.K. said...

Oh, this is all too funny, GJ!!! You could call this the Frankenstein cookie-baking method :) How fascinating to have them (at last!) turn out delicious, but to know that you would never, ever make that particular cookie again. Hmm. Well, I admire you greatly. I'd never have the nerve, once I'd ruined them initially, to use more ingredients on a second attempt. But you clearly have the gift! These will be fun tales to tell around the Christmas table :)

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Wonderful! I will keep this post in mind the next time I wreck a recipe. I'm about to start on Christmas cookie baking myself, with dreams of getting much of it done and in the freezer weeks ahead of time.

xofrances

Marilyn said...

Funny! I would have never thought to rescue failed cookies. Very clever of you.

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

I love your title for this posting. Rescuing failed cookies.. a most noteworthy occupation in my books.