Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Great Cookie Research Project: The Cream Cheese One

This cookie was, I'm sorry to say, not the highlight of the whole Choc Chip Cookie experiment. It was actually the very first one I made (it's been our reading week this week so I saved this one to write up) and I was quite embarrassed to have started with such a blooper. I can't remember quite how I stumbled on the recipe but I had some cream cheese I needed to use up and liked the idea of a cream-cheese-esq cookie. This was not one of my better decisions when starting out as the self-styled baker of the department. It was posted by Minnie on Foodproof, and she says that the original recipe may have come from a well-known brand of cream cheese. It also contains angostura bitters which caused me some headaches to find, and I think were responsible for the orange flavour identified by one taster.


I should really have thought through the implications of introducing such an unknown quantity as cream cheese in a cookie into a taster audience of university academics. They got quite bogged down in the definition of what a cookie was, and thus what their reaction should be. Was I calling it a cookie or something else, they wanted to know? As a cookie it was not popular (my Russianist colleague said it was the first cookie he had ever left unfinished, much to my shame). As another sort of treat (here there was some debate, with my erudite French historian colleague coming up only with 'thing') it did better. See what I mean? Historians can't start to tackle a question until they've defined all their terms. I'm surprised my feedback sheet didn't come back with footnotes and references.


The sticking point, I think, was the texture of the 'thing'. The cream cheese was very noticeable, making it both soft and creamy. This, of course, is no bad thing - it's just not what people were expecting from their cookie experience. I think if I'd baked it in a cake pan and called it a choc chip cheesecake bar it would probably have gone down much better. They also didn't look too attractive as they were sort of flat and pale. Their average score was 6.5, with most people voting 7. The Russianist damned it with a 1, but a colonial history colleague gave it a 10 (I think he was startled at being offered a cookie in the corridor!). Comments varied from 'I'd buy them!' to 'a little chewy', 'not very cookie-like', 'subtle orange flavour' 'perhaps a little waxy on the texture' (I'd agree with that one), and - from the despairing Russianist - 'try frying it like a blini'. Clearly, this was a confused cookie!

The Cream Cheese one: recipe here

4 comments:

Johanna said...

what a shame these didn't go down well - I was already fascinated by the title of the post - cream cheese in a cookie sounds like my thing (but I am not so into crisp cookies)

I think maybe you should start giving scores to the comments from your colleagues if they start getting into essay territory :-)

Lysy said...

Oooh, I like that idea! The cookies were definitely soft rather than crispy so I'd give them a go!

mct said...

Hey Lysy. Nice one! I'm Mitch, from FoodProof. You should consider posting these photos over there so Minnie can see how the recipe turned out!

Lysy said...

Hi Mitch! Thanks for visiting. That's a good idea about the photos, though I'm not sure I did the cookies justice...