Saturday, December 29, 2012

Prayer to the gods of partial credit

I do not have a large house. There are not many cabinets. So why can I not find my cupcake pan? Apologies if you were one of the people on the receiving end of a mass text asking if I lent it to you, but I have to either get to the bottom of this or reconcile with the fact that I'm going insane.

Now, for more amateur photography!

Check out that wrap technique.

The one or two faithful readers of this blog might remember that I'm not a recipe follower, but this one comes from Deborah Madison's Greens cookbook. It deserves a little respect. That's why I made it two or three times before I branched out and changed up her formula for tofu salad sandwiches.

Open wide!

Tofu salad sounds like one of those horrific vegan recipes that drives people away from meatless food. Oh, ye of little faith! This is great, full of fresh herbs and vegetables and capers (or crunchy pickle bits), moistened with Greek yogurt and red wine vinegar, and generally good on the waistline. I recommend stripping the leaves from the celery stalks you use and adding those, too. They taste like a mating of very intense celery, parsley, and ramps.

And then, of course, Andy asked for homecoming cookies. We had some interesting peanut butters in the house thanks to a Groupon for a local peanut butter establishment. Dinner had been the aforementioned low-fat option, so I figured hey, why not totally ruin that health factor with peanut butter cookies.

Product placement!

This is dangerously good.
Here's the thing: I love peanut butter. I love peanut butter cookies. Unfortunately, most recipes give you a weirdly cakey and dry lump that doesn't taste like much of anything. I'm partial to the flat, chewy cookie, and I figured I'd use my dubious baking knowledge to fashion a recipe for one. My highly scientific strategy involved using an egg and a yolk rather than two eggs*, brown sugar and honey only**, and browned butter***. But I accidentally**** used baking powder instead of baking soda. The acid in the powder makes cookies lighter and puffier. I added a tablespoon of milk to the second batch, to little avail. And maybe 1 cup of flour was paradoxically too little? I have no idea. But they were chewy and moist and tasted good, so I'll give myself partial credit on this one. Today gets a zero for healthful eating, though.

Without milk
With milk
The recipe below is what I feel I should have used to achieve the desired result. Let me know how it goes.

Honey nut cookies
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup white flour (ish; it might have been a little more)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 stick butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
2 tbsp honey (or 3, if you're not using peanut butter with honey in it)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan without stirring until totally melted. Continue to heat, swirling occasionally, until the solids and butter are nut-brown and fragrant. Pour over the brown sugar, peanut butter, and honey, and allow to cool to room temperature. Beat until smooth and add the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat until thoroughly incorporated. Toss the almonds with the dry ingredients and fold into the butter mixture until just blended. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven; the cookies should be underdone in the center. Allow to cool on the baking sheet until they're firm enough to be handled.

*Egg whites make for drier, puffier cookies, while the fat in the yolk tends to help cookies spread.
**white sugar = crispy cookie; moist sweeteners = chewy cookie
***In addition to being delicious, it makes for a looser, spreadable dough.
****Long story. I had a cupcake pan moment.

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