Wednesday, April 2, 2008

C is for Cookie

And that's good enough for me!

Back in January, Wheeler's Black Label announced an upcoming ice cream party in Brooklyn and put out a call for volunteer bakers. I was overcome with the delusion I could bake and volunteered to make cookies. Approximately five minutes later, I remembered I'd never made cookies before and panicked.

Then I realized I had a month to learn, got myself under control, and decided to make my problem everyone's problem. I searched all my cookbooks and the Internet for likely cookie recipes, then sent the seven I thought would be best to everyone I know, asking which two they would most like to eat with ice cream. I baked the top two, then made everyone in New York taste them and vote for the one they liked best. Over and over and over.

The winner? 5-Spice Almond Cookies from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

For the curious, the options were:

VeganYumYum's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (no filling, I thought they'd make good ice cream sandwiches instead)
VeganYumYum's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
VeganYumYum's Avocado Lime Tea Cookies
Have Cake Will Travel's Gingersnaps
Papa Tofu's Chocolate Whoopie Pies (no filling, I thought they'd make good ice cream sandwiches instead)
Papa Tofu's Chocolate Roll Out Cookies
Eat, Drink & Be Vegan's 5-Spice Almond Cookies

The gingersnaps and 5-spice almond cookies received the most votes (by a landslide) and I hit the kitchen.

For my first try, I followed both recipes exactly as written.

The gingersnaps tasted great, held together well, were super cute, but didn't "snap". They were very soft and almost grainy inside. If left in the oven longer, they probably would have been great, but, like I said, I wasn't improvising at all. I learned from my attempts at gingerbread men that cookies may harden after coming out of the oven, so I didn't want to over bake them and end up with gingerrocks. They were gingery, but not too gingery. A common comment was "I don't usually like ginger cookies, but these are nice". I wonder if the turbinado sugar sprinkled on top helped cut the spice.

The 5-spice almond cookies tasted great, but fell right apart. By the time I brought them to my friends, I had a 5-spice almond blob. A really nice, spicy (but not too spicy) blob of goodness, but a blob nonetheless.

The general consensus was that I should go with the gingersnaps because they could actually be picked up and eaten, but if I could get the texture of the 5-spice right, go with those.

All the gingersnaps:

Gingersnaps, up close and personal:

5-spice almond cookies, try the first:


Back to the kitchen. The 5-spice almond recipe says to make tablespoon-sized cookies and bake for eleven minutes. I made mine half-tablespoon sized and baked them for closer to fifteen minutes. Brought a metric assload of both cookies to a Super Bowl party where I played with Legos instead of watching the game and polled the constituents. The verdict: 5-spice almond. Even some of the people who had originally gone with the gingersnaps changed their minds.

Take two:

I was convinced. Having attended Wheeler's previous event, I knew to expect loads of people, so I locked myself in the kitchen the night before and baked my butt off:

They went over very well and are now my go-to cookie. A friend of mine recently got a job out of state and I mailed him a batch of these to make him feel more at home (what's homier than home cooking?). As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to bake for everyone who joins or sponsors me in this year's AIDS Walk. These are probably what you all will be getting (unless you have an allergy or something). Lucky for me, doubling the recipe makes just a few too many cookies to fit in the tin I think I'll be using to ship, so I get to indulge a bit too (and walk it off!).

Thanks to everyone who participated in the cookie selection process! Without you, I would probably still be huddled in the corner of my kitchen, rocking back and forth and muttering " cream".


Liz² said...

so many cookies! and they're all so cute! I've been meaning to try the 5-spice almond, I'll give your modifications in mind.

Celine said...

must try these 5-spice cookies, asap!