I am not making much progress getting my blogging caught up with my cooking from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook--you'd think those 2 weeks of furlough would have done it, but no. It seems I need that external pressure of a baking group to manage to blog as I go. But anyway....
I did some cookie baking this weekend for an event younger niece is going to, and picked 2 recipes from SKC to try. First up was Buttered Popcorn Cookies--a basic cookie (butter, brown and white sugar, egg, flour, etc.) with buttered, salted popcorn folded into the dough. Instead of starting with popcorn kernels and oil in a pan, I fudged with some mini-bags of microwave popcorn, then proceeded with the tossing with butter and salt as in the recipe. I mixed this one up with a hand mixer--it was fast and easy. It's a pretty minimal amount of dough to the pile of popcorn, but as Deb writes in the recipe, it will work.
The verdict from me and from niece and nephew is that these are rather blah. Maybe a popcorn fanatic would like the novelty of popcorn in a cookie, but none of us were very taken with the cookie bits and found the popcorn just a little odd. I didn't get any popcorn/butter/salt taste, either, which would seem to be the point. Put the recipe in the "interesting, but not to be repeated" pile.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies are quite a contrast: not easy to make, but an excellent result. It's a good thing that the cookies are headed to an event with a bunch of (presumably) hungry teenagers tonight--I sure don't need such enticing calories in my house. This sandwich cookie plays off the perennial favorite combo of chocolate and peanut butter with a rich PB cookie and a ganache-ish filling. Is it a ganache if the chocolate is melted with PB and butter?
I made the dough yesterday, wrapped it and put it in the fridge overnight, then did the slice-and-bake bit today after giving the dough 30 minutes in the freezer to facilitate slicing. The dough is very crumbly--Deb offers the option of rolling out and cutting the cookies (though she warns that it's difficult), but I don't see how it could be done. I was always sticking corners back on slices, and sometimes the slice would break into big pieces. One good thing is that if you stick the pieces back together, the baked cookie will then hold together. However, any cracks you leave showing as it enters the oven will probably still show after baking.
The chocolate filling also gave me fits, but I blame myself on that one. I melted the ingredients and let it sit at room temp to thicken...but that was taking a while. Then I put the bowl in the fridge to speed up the process and it emerged looking just about perfect--I was stirring and getting a good "stiff frosting" feel. I put the bowl down and texted younger niece to come over and help make the sandwich cookies, but when she walked in less than ten minutes later the chocolate was a hard brittle mass. Guess I should have just stirred constantly! After a little time in the double boiler I got the mass back to a reasonable spreading consistency, though it still went from flowing to quite stiff very quickly if left sitting.
Not an easy cookie to make (though I think it will be easier on a second attempt), but definitely worth it.