Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Great Cookie Research Project: The Kiwi One

Hmm, mid-week is not really happening for this blog at the moment - I blame teaching and commuting commitments. However, the Great Choc Chip Cookie Research Project is continuing, and this week I went Down Under for some inspiration. Since Kiwi Sis and family went off on their antipodean adventure I've started following a few New Zealand blogs to try to get a little insight into the sort of foodie world they're living in. A while back the talented cookie-decorator (oh, and full-time lawyer too) Tammy posted the recipe for her family's favourite choc chip cookies, and I was interested to see that they contain condensed milk. This isn't an ingredient I use much, apart from the odd foray into fudge or caramel making, but it struck a chord as Johanna uses it in baking quite often, and has written a very interesting post about its place in Australian cuisine. Non-perishables in tins formed a vital staple in people's diets in an era before domestic refrigeration and especially since Australian cities were so dependent on rail links for their provisions. Unfortunately it was also used to feed babies on sometimes which is clearly Not a Good Thing. Johanna has posted about several tasty treats which use it as a base ingredient, and so I was particularly struck that it turned up in this New Zealand recipe as well.

I had half a tin of condensed milk left over from making Eco Sis's Millionaire's Shortbread, and so I made up a batch of Tammy's cookie dough the same weekend and put it in the freezer. I *almost* forgot to add the choc chips AGAIN when I defrosted it, but remembered just in time to whip the shaped cookies back out of the oven. But I did totally forget to photograph them - see above excuses which are currently being deployed to explain all incidents of ditsiness and general rubbishness. Luckily Tammy has posted a picture of them on her blog, although I have to admit that mine did not look as good as hers. Mine were flatter, for one thing - because the dough was still quite chilled from the freezer I was able to roll it into balls and flatten them rather than drop them on the tray as I usually would. I hadn't particularly intended to do this - it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. It meant that my cookies were crunchy which was actually very nice, but they also looked a little burnt around the edges. Initially I was cross about that but then we realised that the darker-ringed ones actually had a nicer crunch to them and I even put the more golden ones back in again to crisp them up some more. I think that the flatness of the cookie had a lot to do with this, but also our oven has a tendency to get quite hot, and these cookies are supposed to be baked at a slightly lower temperature than many of the other recipes I've tried.

The slightly burnt look (I prefer to call it 'sun-kissed') made the cookie less popular at work. They didn't rate terribly well although I really think that this is because of the way I baked them. Tammy's looked much thicker and chewier (and frankly quite a bit more appetising!) than mine. A number of people only gave them a 3 though they also racked up an 8 and a 9, but I was really touched by the comments. One person put 'personal preference is for softer cookies - but delicious and very welcome anyway!!', and another wrote 'interesting, but not top of the list. Thanks ever so though!'. It was a nice sign that people are getting quite into the whole thing :) In fact one of my colleagues in the English department has requested that I bring in cookies every day and he doesn't care how crispy they are! Another comment said that they were good because they weren't too sweet but still flavoursome. The Scientist gave his oven-fresh sample a 7.5 - slightly under his average, but he did particularly like the crispiness and asked if I could spare another one. Overall the average was 5.2 but I don't think this reflects the condensed milk cookie's true potential in the hands of a more attentive baker!

I still had a bit of condensed milk left after all the baking and was very tempted to make Johanna's recipe for grubs (which I had never heard of before but which she talks so highly of that I really want to try them). But they need biscuits and in the end I had to throw the rest of the condensed milk away before I let myself eat it a teeny spoonful at a time whenever I opened the fridge before I could get to the supermarket! I'd like to try Tammy's cookies again with all the proper directions though, so I will earmark the grubs for the same occasion. Oooh, I can see an Antipodean baking night coming on.

The Kiwi One: recipe here


Tammy said...

I am pleased you made my recipe, but you will hav to try them again! My nann used to make hers much flatter than mine. I like them a bit thicker. Sometimes you have to add a bit more flour, and also dont flatten them too much You could also try cooking them at a lower temp for a wee bit longer :0)

Johanna said...

these look great (well I can't see them but I still want to try them) - as you have noticed I love anything with condensed milk. I think I might have a condensed milk choc chip cookie recipe somewhere but I thought it had eggs - must search it out

I have found that you can do a Gliuten Free version of grubs with more coconut and less biscuits - still tastes v good!

And I have seen a recipe for a vegan condensed milk but can't think where - which I thought might be up your alley!

Lysy said...

I'm glad that they still sound appealing (perhaps it's a good thing I forgot to photograph them!) Thank you for the tips Tammy - I will definitely try them again, and I'm pleased to hear that they seem to ring true to an Aussie as well!

Vegan condensed milk sounds very intriguing - I had never really thought of making your own but I suppose it just involves boiling down and sweetening some milk? It sounds like a good excuse to try the grubs anyway!