Monday, September 25, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Wild-Honey and Ginger Cookies

Page 161 in the old book / page 199 in the new book

These may look much like last week's cookies, but they're quite different in both taste and texture. They have a full cup of honey in them which probably accounts for the almost orange color. I think it also accounts for their texture, which is crisp, but more of a dull crisp rather than a crunchy crisp.

The dough goes together very easily, but is different from most cookie doughs in that the butter is melted with the honey rather than creamed. The hot butter and honey mixture is then mixed into the dry ingredients. Maida recommends wrapping the dough in oiled foil, which I did. I had a little problem with the edge of the foil getting embedded in the dough and bits tearing off. Perhaps parchment would work better.

The ratings for these Wild-Honey and Ginger Cookies were all over the map. There were those who really liked them, but I wasn't crazy about them. Much as I like honey, I just didn't enjoy the flavor of these cookies. I think part of it is that the only spice in them is ginger. Last week's Whole-Wheat Honey Wafers had both ginger and cinnamon, and had a warmer, rounder taste.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "The cookie was crunchy, but tasted like there was absolutely no sugar in the ingredients. The only flavor I could taste was the ginger and I’m not a big ginger fan. Rating - 1.0"

Herman: "These are GREAT … 5/5 for me because I love honey and ginger!! Rating - 5.0"

Laura: "Crunchy cookie with a delicate touch of ginger. Yummy! Rating - 4.0"

Terri: "The 'honey' flavor is stronger than the 'ginger' spice flavor - but this is an interesting combination. Reminds me of a flat vanilla wafer. Very tasty with tea! Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.3

Next Week - Honey Graham Crackers

Nutrition Facts

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Whole-Wheat Honey Wafers

Page 160 in the old book / page 198 in the new book

Last week was the first of a string of plain brown cookies that will be featured here over the coming weeks. This doesn't make for very interesting photos - hence the bow tie on these fellas. Though these cookies come in a plain brown wrapper, they are not at all plain. With honey, brown sugar, coffee, spices, and plenty of butter, you might not even realize that these crispy cookies are also whole wheat. In fact, I know at least one of the cookie panelists didn't.

Maida cautions that you not underbake these since they should be crisp. I'll second that - I didn't underbake any, but I tried one while still warm, before it had become crisp. It was not nearly as good as the fully cooled cookie. The texture of the warm cookie was dry, mealy, and verging on unpleasant. So, make sure you bake these long enough, resist temptation and allow them to fully cool, and then enjoy them!

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "The taste of the cookie reminded me of a gingerbread cookie. The cookie’s shape was round, crunchy and melted in your mouth. I enjoyed the cookie and gave it a 4. Rating - 4.0"

Denny: "Little too crunchy but I liked them a lot. How can you not like something with that name? Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "A yummy mild spice cookie - crunchy with a nice texture. Rating - 3.5"

Terri: "Light and slightly spicey! These are delicious with a buttery flavor. Very similar to last week's 'Whole Wheat Sqaures' but a crunchier and spicer flavor. Rating - 3.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.5

Next Week - Wild-Honey and Ginger Cookies

Nutrition Facts

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Whole-Wheat Squares

Page 158 in the old book / page 196 in the new book

These squares are similar to wheatmeal biscuits. They are hard, dry, and very plain... which may not sound like much of a recommendation, but they are actually quite good. They are very buttery, not so sweet, and have no salt. I thought they were wonderful with a little jam, so I brought a jar into the office along with the cookies (fig for me, strawberry for the office).

These are mixed without a mixer - the butter is cut into the dry ingredients (which for the quantities of flour and butter involved, requires a little muscle) and then you "break" the dough by smearing pieces of it with the heel of your hand across your work surface. Once again I had some trouble with the dough sticking when I rolled it out. I used the pastry cloth as recommended, but I'd be tempted to try rolling the dough between sheets of wax paper (using my tape trick) since the dough must be rolled into a rectangle.

Even though I enjoyed these cookies, I don't know that I'd choose to make them again. They're a bit of a bother to make and given a choice between these and Carr's Wheatmeal Biscuits, I'd probably pick the latter. Perhaps with a pinch of salt and maybe a touch more sugar, I'd be completely sold on these Whole-Wheat Squares. I'm sure that if they were just a little less trouble to make I would be.

Denny: "Nice little cookie with strawberry jam, not spectacular, just nice. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "This cookie is less moist but still yummy! (Time to grab another cookie and a cuppa!) Rating - 4.0"

Terri: "This cookie is a cross between a graham cracker and a shortbread cookie! A bit on the dry side, but Cathy had a jar of jam if we preferred to add this for sweetness. These would be great with tea and jam. Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.3

Next Week - Whole-Wheat Honey Wafers

Nutrition Facts

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Swedish Rye Wafers

Page 157 in the old book / page 195 in the new book

I had a hunch these wouldn't be a hit, but I liked them. They are so buttery, that they are more like pastry then a cookie. They are rather plain, very crumbly and slightly sweet. I had hoped that everyone would be so charmed by the shape of the cookies, that they wouldn't notice or mind the seeds. Though they did remark on the shape, the seeds were still an issue for some.

I used a pastry cloth for the first time and I think it helped, but it wasn't completely trouble-free. When you use a pastry cloth, you must prepare it by rubbing flour into it. The idea is that the flour will prevent the fat from getting into the cloth and will prevent the dough from sticking. In theory, you should use less flour than you would have to use to prevent the dough from sticking to some other surface (such as your counter), which is better for your dough. The instructions that came with my pastry cloth suggested tucking the edges under a large board, which is what I did.

After a few strokes of the rolling pin I was completely sold - I could tell by how easily the dough was spreading that it wasn't sticking at all. Unfortunately, a few strokes later, it was obvious that the dough had started to stick. I don't know if the problem was with my preparation of the cloth or with the dough (which was very buttery). I managed, and I suspect I was better off with the cloth than without, but rolling cookie dough remains a bit of a chore in my view.

Suzanne asked me what the hole was for, but all I could tell her was that according to Maida it was traditional. She did a little sleuthing on the internet and found that these cookies are served at Christmas and the holes are to allow you to hang them on the tree.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "I loved the off-centered small hole in the cookie. I wasn’t too sure of the caraway seeds on top since I didn’t care for the last cookie with caraway seeds (even though I like caraway seeds in bread). To say the least, the cookie made with rye flour had an interesting taste, but I could tell right away that not much sugar was added to the cookie. I felt the cookie could have used more sugar and after a few bites, the caraway seeds sticking in my teeth started to bother me. Rating: 3.0"

Denny: "Kind of bland except for caraway seeds. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Delicate texture, unique shape cutout. Don't care for the seeds. Rating - 2.0"

Terri: "I've never had rye in a cookie, but it's a very interesting flavor. This seems almost like a cracker, but with more butter. I really like rye bread and this flavor remind me of that. Different, but delicious! Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 2.8

Next Week - Whole-Wheat Squares

Nutrition Facts