I wound up submitting nine cookie recipes for the Scharffen Berger Adventure Coookie Contest – I couldn’t quite get the caramel filling to work out or I would have submitted a variation of one of these, making ten recipes, which was the maximum allowed. But hey, coming up with nine good recipes in one month, I’m pretty happy with that. One took three tries before I thought it was okay to submit, but some I did hit on the first try.
I suspect most entries must surely come from professionals, so I don’t know that any of my recipes have much of a chance – but hey, I did develop some great recipes! So it was definitely worth the trouble to enter. Next year I will try to remember to check out this contest in October, which is when it started this year. Three months to work on recipes would be much better than trying to do it all in one month!
Here are the cookies I submitted:
Pine Nut Orange Florentines
Chocolate-Sweet Potato-Ginger Pillows
Chocolate Pinenut Orange Spirals
Death By Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies
Mayan End-Of-The-World Chocolate Cookies
Aztec Gold Cookies
And (my favorite) Taste For Adventure Triple Ginger Chocolate Cookies
So! I know some of you bake! Here are the first couple recipes! If you try any of them, I’d be interested in what you think.
PINE NUT-ORANGE FLORENTINES
For this cookie, I just took an ordinary Florentine-style cookie, substituted chopped pine nuts for sliced almonds, added Grand Marnier and orange zest – I think orange goes well with pine nuts and, of course, chocolate. Then I used melted chocolate to sandwich the cookies together. These didn’t turn out super-fancy because it was hard to get the cookies perfectly round – if I was trying it again, I’d chop the pine nuts a bit finer, chill the dough, and see if I could form the dough into little tiny balls rather than trying to drop the dough on the cookie sheets. If you try this, let me know how they come out.
½ C. butter
2/3 C. sugar
2 Tbsp cream
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1/3 C. all-purpose flour
½ tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier
¼ tsp orange extract
2 Tbsp orange zest
1 C. finely chopped pine nuts (or other nuts – I actually prefer almost every other kind of nut to pine nuts. I’d probably use walnuts here if I did this again, but hey, I’m not the boss of you. Sliced almonds or pecans or whatever would be great, but take it from me, you aren’t going to be able to roll the dough into neat balls if you use sliced almonds, which are too pointy.
1 C. bittersweet chocolate, melted
Combine the butter, sugar, cream, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Heat until mixture reaches 230 degrees, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in flour and all the orange flavorings. Stir in the chopped nuts.
Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets by rounded ½ tsp (or chill dough and roll into tiny balls). Bake at 350 degrees for 8-11 minutes, until caramelized and lightly browned. Cool on the paper. When the cookies are cool, they will lift right off the paper.
Melt the chocolate. Brush chocolate on the underside of one cookie and sandwich with another cookie of similar size and shape. If you like, drizzle more melted chocolate across the tops of the sandwich cookies.
Paciencia are Filipino meringue cookies. I simply substituted cocoa powder for a bit of the flour – you substitute 2 Tbsp cocoa for every Tbsp flour you take out – and then I added coconut extract, then made a chocolate ganache with coconut milk and coconut extract. I got these to work perfectly once, but the second time I couldn’t get the egg whites to whip stiff enough. It might, I admit, have been lack of patience. I mean, these cookies get their name for a reason. Below, I’ll provide every possible suggestion for getting the egg whites to whip really stiff. On a day when you’re feeling patient, you really should try these – they’re quite addictive when they work.
2 egg whites
½ C. sugar
¼ tsp coconut extract
¼ C. + 1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz thick coconut milk from the top of an unshaken can, or 4 oz heavy cream – it doesn’t make any difference, I just used the coconut milk because it was an “adventure” ingredient.
1 tsp coconut extract
Beat the egg whites until quite stiff. Don’t use totally fresh eggs – they should be at least a week old. Bring the egg whites to room temperature before you beat them – leave them sitting in the bowl for at least half an hour before you start beating them, and an hour is better. You know you mustn’t have a speck of yolk in the egg whites, right? Before you start, you might wash the beaters and bowl in hot soapy water even if they’re already clean, just to make absolutely sure there’s not a trace of grease anywhere. But then give everything plenty of time to dry completely because even a drop of water can interfere with egg whites whipping. I have NEVER had trouble whipping egg whites until these cookies, so don’t let me scare you away from trying them. I think all the sugar and stuff interferes a lot more than just whipping the egg whites by themselves.
So, as I said, beat the egg whites until quite stiff before you start to add the sugar. I think that’s where I went wrong, starting to add the sugar before the egg whites were stiff. You can tell whether the egg whites are stiff by switching off the mixer and lifting the beaters straight up, btw – the peaks left in behind in the egg whites should stand up straight, not fold over. Standing up straight means you have whipped the egg whites to “stiff peaks”.
Okay! Gradually beat in the sugar, a Tbsp at a time. Only when you have stiff peaks AND all the sugar has been added should you beat in the coconut extract. Now: combine the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder and beat that in. You should still have stiff peaks. If the mixture has partially collapsed again, beat it some more. I swear, the first time I made these the whole process only took about ten minutes.
Spoon the batter into a pastry bag (or a zip lock bag with the tip of one corner cut off) and pipe quarter-sized mounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees until lightly toasted, 12-15 minutes, trading the positions of the baking sheets halfway through to compensate for any hot spots in your oven. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets. When cool, the cookies will lift right off the parchment paper.
Make the ganache: heat the coconut milk or cream with the chocolate in your microwave and stir until smooth. Stir in the coconut extract. Set the ganache aside until it thickens, about 30 to 40 minutes. Assemble sandwich cookies, but don’t eat any yet – they are super-crisp and will be much better if you continue with the patience. Store the cookies overnight at room temp in an air-tight container. NOW pick up a good book and settle down with these softened, chewy cookies for a real treat – they are quite wonderful.
Okay, you’ll find the next cookie recipes I’ll post will be much more foolproof!