Monday, April 23, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Crescents

Page 216 in the old book / page 241 in the new book

You might be thinking, "What's with the thumbprints, aren't these supposed to be crescents?" Yes, yes, that's true and as you can see, I did make some crescents, but the dough was painfully crumbly and the crescents were pitifully cracked, and (perhaps most importantly) shaping those crescents was taking far too long. After a good hour and a half I had only shaped about half of the cookies. It was becoming more difficult rather than easier, as the dough seemed to be getting more crumbly. I seriously considered tossing the remaining dough, but then it occurred to me that a thumbprint shape might work.

I can't say Maida didn't give fair warning: "These are small candylike cookies that take time and patience." I just ran out of time and didn't have the patience. The cookies are shaped by taking a small amount of dough, rolling it into a ball, pressing the ball flat between your hands, and then wrapping the flattened dough around some peanut butter filling. The filled cylinder is then tapered on the ends and curved slightly to form a crescent. Rolling the dough into a ball and even flattening it was not a problem, but wrapping it around the peanut butter caused the dough to crack. I did the best I could to heal the cracks by pinching them, etc., but it was futile. Thankfully, the cracks didn't get any worse during baking and the filling didn't ooze out.

And though the crescents weren't especially attractive, I thought they tasted great. The cookie is thin and hard and the filling is quite soft - a really nice contrast. (The panel, you'll see, was less than enthusiastic.) The thumbprints were OK, but there's too much of the dense cookie and not enough of the filling.

I opted not to roll these in powdered sugar or vanilla sugar as suggested in the recipe, but one or the other would have made the cookies a little more attractive. I'm not sure I have it in me to try making these again, but if I did I think I might try cutting down slightly on the flour with the hope that the dough would be less crumbly. I'd also be tempted to drizzle on some chocolate and/or peanut butter icing to give the cookies eye appeal. If I resorted to making thumbprints again, I think a dollop of chocolate icing on top (so that it completely covered the peanut butter filling) might make the cookies more like Reese's peanut butter cups.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "I thought, 'What could be better – chocolate and peanut butter together'. Somehow, I was disappointed. The cookie was very crunchy almost to the point of being hard and wasn’t fudgy enough for me. The peanut butter was too thick and stuck to the roof of my mouth and teeth. I know Cathy said that the crescent shape was difficult and took a lot of time, so I feel bad about making a negative comment, but the cookie for me was disappointing. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "You can't go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter! The cocolaty cookie crescent was a little too crispy/crunchy, but the flavor was delightful... especially when mixed with the creamy peanut butter filling. Rating - 4.0"

Denny: "Not bad but kind of disappointing. My taste buds were expecting a Reese's peanut butter cup cookie, but it was not even close. Not enough chocolate or peanut butter in the recipe. High expectations meet a lesser reality. Even with the chocolate bonus, I rate them a 3.0 as crescents or thumbprints. Rating - 3.0"

Terri: "These are delicious - kind of like a cookie-Reese cup candy! They have a crunchy texture and just the right amount of peanut butter. Even though I don't consider myself a
'chocoholic', these are great. Rating - 4.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.6

Next week - SeƱoritas

Nutrition Facts


Niki said...

I recently made a similar sort of (but reversed!) cookie, with a peanut butter dough and a chocolate truffle filling, and had exactly the same problems you describe with the cracking. Except my dough was far too soft and kept splitting open - including inside the oven so the filling oozed out. But still delicious, as yours look also.

Anonymous said...

"...ran out of time and didn't have the patience." -- well I can relate to that! Good thinking on the thumbprints though, even if the panel wasn't altogether thrilled.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the mood for beautiful biscuits today and hope to make some. Your site is so beautiful and encouraging. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Chocolate and peanut butter. Yes, a great combo indeed. I've been feeling so blah lately and just unmotivated to bake much. Your persistence, especially with a difficult dough, is inspiring. I wonder: do you think the ratio of fat to dry ingredients wasn't quite right for this cookie?

Cathy said...

Hi Niki! So it could be that getting the dough a little softer wouldn't necessarily fix the problem. Oh well, as I said - I'm not sure I'm anxious to try these again. That reverse combination sounds really tasty and I'll bet it would have made the cookie panel much happier - more of a chocolate fix!

Hi Rowena! I started timing how long it was taking me to shape one cookie and it looked like I was going to be up all night. I decided life's too short!

Hi Kaz! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I ran across a link to this post (not in a food or craft blog) that was poking fun at the cookies because the writer thought they looked like something else (not something you'd eat!!!). This is the second time this has happened and it was getting me a little down. Thanks for the lovely comment to lift my spirits!

Hi Mari! Me too! If it weren't for the fact that the end is in sight and I feel accoutable to both the people in my office and you guys, I think I'd be calling it quits on this project! I'm sure you'll be back soon with more gorgeous cookies though! About the dough - I think that must be it. I think I would try reducing the flour just slightly - maybe removing one or two tablespoonfuls. It just occurred to me - if the dough is still crumbly, maybe little pillows would work better than the thumbprints. That would keep the dough relatively thin and allow for more filling. Maybe I'm talking myself into trying these again... :)