Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Better with company

I'm a big fan of cookies. I love splitting all-American, big, honking, saucer-sized cookies, studded with chocolate chips, any variety of nuts, butterscotch, or held together with old-fashioned oats, ideally crisp on the outside and softer towards the middle. Since baking with Tuesdays With Dorie, I've grown fond of the slice-and-bake sable -- dainty, sandy, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery goodness where one is never enough. And, really -- I've grown up with Walker's all-butter shortbread with the familiar red plaid packaging.

But, these... These Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Cookies, Spike's choice for this weekend's assignment... I'm not so versed in the spongey cake cookie, and I don't know quite how I feel about them. The ingredients came together quite easily, though the actual scooping of the dough was a bit of a nuisance. Once baked, they were indeed as described in the book, so there wasn't a problem in execution. And though I can throw them back (at least three in one sitting), there is still something lacking for me. And my co-workers must agree, because I have never brought in anything that disappeared so slowly.

The thing is, I think the cakey nature of these cookies begs for one thing, and upon reading the feedback from other bakers, my instinct is correct -- these cookies are like the base for whoopie pies, and they need FILLING! So, this morning, I'm going to make peanut butter filling, and I'll report back! All is not yet lost...

...and they're nearly gone. Whew.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It all began in bulk...

My first biscotti was not enjoyed at the edge of a piazza in Italy, accompanied by a shot of dark espresso, nor did I have it at a cafe along Columbus in North Beach where the waiters get their kicks by showering patrons with compliments and exaggerated Italian charm. It wasn't made by a classmate's mother either, with technique taught by his/her nonna. My first biscotti was from the gourmet foods powerhouse that we all know and love -- Costco.

As a family of six, the only way to make anything last in the house was by buying in bulk, and we took full advantage of the super store. We bought pallets of Yoplait yogurt, boxes of pre-apportioned Quaker oatmeal pouches, jugs of orange juice, packs of contact lenses, and biscotti. They came in clear jars, individually wrapped but "Not to be resold." My mother loved them with International Foods Cafe Francais instant coffee, and so we bought these jumbo containers of cookies, sometimes dipped in chocolate, sometimes not.

I, on the other hand, was never a the biggest biscotti fan. I probably didn't like crunchy cookies at all when I was younger. Why work so hard for sweet little treat, when you could have a perfectly flaky croissant or melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate?? This recipe from Dorie for Chocolate Biscotti was inevitable, however, and I just decided to go for it this morning.

Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes made this week's Tuesday's With Dorie selection and as with so many recipes of late, my initial ambivalence toward the key ingredient or type of pastry even, is replaced with genuine enthusiasm for the baked good. Crunchy, but not too crunchy; sweet, but nowhere near too sweet. These dipping cookies were so easy to demolish and then follow with another.

My dad arrives tomorrow from Taiwan for a little visit to check up on the kids. My mom isn't coming as the flight is a bit too long to bear for her, but with that canister of Cafe Francais, my dad will definitely be toting a bag of Dorie's biscotti.