Friday, December 27, 2013

Cookie Catastrophe 2013

Once again it was Christmas Cookie time!

(The cookie recipes aren't linked yet.  The content is here, but the links to the cookie recipes aren't up yet.  Check back in a day or 3)

I had plans - really organized plans.  OK, I meant to have organized plans.

Chocolate Gingersnap Sandwiches

the crazy Sriracha Peanut-Butter Chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate & coconut

the Mexican Wedding Cookies/Russian Tea Cakes

The Spiced Pecans

But somewhere things went badly off the rails.  I ended up in (as the boy fondly calls it,) "Mad Scientist  Mode."

It started, I think, with the desire to use up the the rest of the strawberry freezer jam that had fallen to the bottom of the chest freezer.  I made some of those fabulous Linzer cookies. (a cookie version of the Linzer Torte.  Yes… recipe)

They were VERY good.
Buttery crunch with an almond touch
and a hint of European Middles Ages Spice love. 
I only needed to make 2 dozen for a cookie exchange, but if I was going to cook down some of the jam, I was going to do it all.  So-o-o-o-o-o-oooo 150 cookies later, the jam was gone, and I had a bunch of cookies for people.

Oh, and the recipe I pulled together from several sources ended up as one that used egg yolks, but not the white.  So I had whites in the fridge.

And then Alton Brown posted coconut macaroons, which only needed egg whites, and I was off to the store to get chocolate and coconut for the above Sri&PB&CC cookies, so I picked up some of that coconut as well.

And then, I got to thinking (there was the problem).  I got to thinking about the friends who are choosing to eat along different paths - gluten free, vegan, grain free.  I'm an omnivore (except for that soy-milk…urp… thing), but I love to look globally and find solutions to these problems.

This year the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent were calling to me.  I have a beautiful book of Persian recipes I've been dabbling in, given to me by an Iranian friend.

The food is tasty…. but it takes TIME, and INGREDIENTS.   And since I'm a novice at Persian cooking, it even takes more time.

But it is gluten-free heaven, and tons of vegetarian cooking - and use oil instead of ghee/butter - vegan as well.
And over in the desserts, there are a large number of nut and non-grain based cookies.

These beauties are effectively chickpea flour shortbread.  The Persian name is nan-e nokhochi.   The original flavor was rose water & cardamom.  But many American palates read rose water as "I'm eating SOAP!?"  So I altered the flavor to orange (to see how - check out the recipe!) and cardamom.  It became the "Oooh wow!  What is this?  It's good.  I'm not sure what it is, but it is good."

There is also a Persian style macaron - nan-e badami (a version of those very popular pastel colored sandwich cookies that have exploded out of the French Patisserie scene).  Though these are served as single cookies, and are still their natural color - but are that mix of crushed almonds, sugar and whipped egg whites & you choose the spice.

At this point, I was firmly distracted.  Well and truly confused from my original plan.  It had also contained plans for a brittle (we'll not talk of that here - it only makes me sad).

But one more thing.  I had to try altering my Russian Tea Cakes for a vegan audience.  That meant changing out the butter.  Which I did.  With coconut oil.  That is one BRITTLE fat.  The tea cakes worked, but were fragile.  And tasty.  I made them with almonds instead of walnuts which are also more brittle, so that couldn't have helped.

What had begun as a fairly straightforward task had now spiraled out of control.  But in the end nearly everyone who was supposed to got cookies.  I was a mess.  The kitchen was a mess.  But I got to try new things, found a total winner, nan-e nokhochi will be back!

So - if you missed out on cookies this year, I apologize.  Maybe next year I'll be more organized.  That's the plan anyway.  I'll have to go back to the lists I did for the year before.  That was less of a catastrophe, but also less of an adventure.

Happy 2014!