Monday, December 04, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Hot Butter Wafers

Page 181 in the old book / page 213 in the new book

According to Maida, the recipe for these cookies is an early colonial recipe that was used by Dolley Madison and served at the White House. They are the plainest of cookies with only flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. They are thin, firm and crisp and only slightly sweet.

The dough is rolled after being chilled only briefly, so they weren't too difficult to roll. Well, let me qualify that: they're not too difficult to roll the first time. The problem is the dough is quite tough (the cut cookies shrink before your eyes), so rerolling the scraps was near impossible. I gave up after a half-hearted attempt since I was pretty sure these cookies were going to be a tough sell anyway.

Thinking that the cookies might be a little like pastry, I thawed out some cherries from my stash and made sort of a stove-top cherry pie filling. I cooked a little butter and flour together for a minute or two and then gradually added the juice from the thawed cherries, then added the cherries and some sugar and cooked it for another couple of minutes. Then I topped some of the cherry mixture with a "pie crust" - one of the cookies. It was delicious, but the cookie was difficult to break up with a spoon, so it's not something I'd do again. (But I am so making that stove-top cherry pie filling again!)

I brought strawberry jam in to the office in the hopes that it would make the cookies more appealing. As it turns out, nearly all the cookies were eaten and most apparently without strawberry jam. Here's the panel...

Suzanne: Suzanne was still out of the office but will be back next week.

Denny: "Very plain but my expectations were low so I'd give them a 2 (minus 1 for no chocolate). Maybe the plainness explains why there were so many great men then per capita as compared to so few today. Rating - 2.0"

Laura: "I first tried one plain and then tried one with the strawberry jam. The jam helped, but not that much. The cookies themselves were okay, though somewhat boring. They are lovely with tea, however. Rating - 2.5"

Terri: "These are very tasty but are almost like a flat "vanilla wafer". I thought it would be a good basic cookie recipe for holiday cookies, but standing alone with no decorations, makes it sort of boring. If there's such a thing as a "boring" cookie! Rating - 2.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 2.3

Next Week - Caraway Hardtack

Nutrition Facts


Anonymous said...

Hi - I've been following your progress each week, and wanted to let you know I'm really enjoying your blog. I can't wait until you finish the icebox cookie section and move on, though. I just don't find these cookies as interesting as other types.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note the plain-ness of this cookie, given the fact that the name sounds pretty interesting!

Anonymous said...

These cookies sound like they'd go well with a scoop or two of ice cream. I've sometimes gotten a wafer-like cookie with ice cream and it always breaks, which frustrates me. Maybe this cookie, because it's so sturdy, would soften a bit after coming in contact with ice cream...? I don't know. And yes, that cherry sauce looks pretty yummy.

Cathy said...

Hi Mady! Thanks so much. Actually I finished the icebox cookie section a while back and am now in the middle of the rolled cookie section. This first part of that chapter has the more basic cookies, but pretty soon I'll be hitting the filled cookies - yay! Those should be much more interesting.

Hi Rowena! You know, the name kind of scared me - don't know why, but it didn't sound particularly appealing. The name is due (I believe) to the fact the butter is melted and then mixed (while still hot) with the flour. I'm guessing this is responsible for their texture - firm and crisp.

Hi Mari - this cookie is definitely sturdy, but I'm not sure it would soften much if any from the ice cream. I had it sitting on that warm cherry mixture for several minutes and it was still difficult to break with a spoon. The texture is fine for eating, just not suitable for managing with a fork or spoon.

Anonymous said...

SOunds like a good ice cream sandwich cookie to me.

Anonymous said...


pinknest said...

oooh i love the name alone. might they be good with some hot buttered rum? :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds wonderful & I'll be making it, probably using fresh summer berries & rolling the pastry to a very thin wafer & dusted with some icing sugar.
It sounds like I might have found my Christmas Day dessert, perfect for Christmas in Australia. Many thanks for the idea!

Cathy said...

Hi Laura! It would probably work well if the ice cream was not at all soft, but otherwise it might get a little messy!

Hi Anon! Thanks so much!

Hi Pinknest! Well, I don't have much experience there, but you might be right. It'd definitely lend itself to nibbling.

Hi Gourmand! Doing what I did with a little circle of pastry rather than the cookie would be wonderful. The pastry would be light and crispy. Dusting the whole thing with some powdered sugar is a great idea and adding a little garnish on top would make it very festive I think!