Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Favorite Hand-Formed Cookies

Fudge Mallows
With a come hither look that's hard to refuse, these Fudge Mallows made the Cookie Panel's top ten, but were too sweet for my taste.

Can you tell I'm running out of steam? I probably shouldn't admit that, but it's true. I think I've had enough cookies for a while, but there are only 16 to go and I can't stop now! Unfortunately, whether it's my waning enthusiasm, or that after 132 cookies I've become hypercritical, or possibly even that the cookies in this chapter weren't quite up to the standards of the earlier chapters, I was slightly underwhelmed by these hand-formed cookies. There were definitely cookies I liked, and even some I liked a lot, but in my opinion there were no WOW cookies this time around. I should hasten to add that I may be alone in my view of this group of cookies, for the cookie panel in its infinite wisdom awarded its first 5.0's to two cookies from the chapter: the Fudge Mallows and English Gingersnaps #1.

This chapter brought the most dramatic cookie disaster yet, the second cookie to get a reputation in the wilds of the blogosphere for looking like a turd (I kid you not. And I'm not telling what the first one was, it's in the witness protection program), but still and all, it was fun. Lots of fun, actually - there is something very, very satisfying about rolling dough with your hands, be it into little balls or long ropes.

So, on with the show. I hope my earlier comments don't deter you from trying some of these cookies. Even if they're missing that wow-factor, there were still some very good cookies. As usual, the runners-up are in no particular order and I've saved my very favorite cookie for last...

This is a classic, but still sooo good - delicate, buttery, and nutty Austrian Walnut Crescents.

Chewy and crunchy at the same time, with the winning flavors of brown sugar and toasted almond. I think I'm going to have to find an excuse to make these SeƱoritas again very soon.

Maida Heatter's Italian Sesame Sticks
Not to everyone's liking because of the sesame seeds, I thought these Italian Sesame Sticks were delicious... and habit-forming!

And finally, my favorite: Coconut Washboards. I made them with unsweetened, dessicated coconut, which I expect is what made them so crunchy (the recipe says they are semisoft cookies). Though I'm curious to try them as Maida intended (probably with sweetened, shredded coconut), I loved this crunchy version. They taste great too - it always amazes me how basic ingredients such as brown sugar, butter and vanilla can combine to produce such wonderful flavor.

One more chapter!!! I get my weekends back!!! But I'm getting ahead of myself... there are still 16 cookies to go and hopefully a few gems yet to be discovered. Please join me next Monday when I begin the mysteriously titled last chapter, "Et Cetera". And if you're just tuning in, all the cookies on this page are from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies. The book is out of print but still available as a remainder, used, or in your library. All but one of the recipes were also reprinted in the newer Maida Heatter's Cookies which also includes cookie recipes from a couple of her other books. Read about my little project here and start here if you're interested in exploring my earlier posts.


Jannett said...

Hi Cathy
I have to agree that the Fudge Mallows are very good. I will make them again. I have tried the Peanut Butter Pillows and they were good as well.
May I ask what made you start to try each and every cookie in this particular book?

Anonymous said...

I must say that your fudge mallows looks delicious!

Best regards/
Veronica in Sweden

Anonymous said...


I can imagine that you are becoming weary. This has been a huge effort! I read every week with great interest. The amount of time and effort you put forth is obvious. Your effort has made it clear to me that the number of cookbooks I own is nothing short of ridiculous! Cooking just one recipe a week, it would probably take me several lifetimes to make my way through. You have helped me accept that I enjoy reading about cooking and eating almost as much as I enjoy cooking and eating!

This is just to say thanks for the effort you have brought to your cooking and blogging. I enjoy it immensely.


Cathy said...

Hi Hendria! This book has always been a favorite. I had a few favorite recipes in it that I made quite often, but hadn't tried most of the recipes in the book. One day after I'd sort of randomly picked a new recipe to try from the book (which was very yummy), I just started thinking it would be wonderful to try all the recipes - partly as a tribute to the book and Maida Heatter, but mostly for the experience and to be able to share that experience with my neices someday when they're old enough to cook from the book. I have three copies stashed under the bed awaiting that day!

Hi Veronica - thanks so much!

Hi Lisa! Thank you very, very much - what kind words and it makes me so happy to know you've enjoyed following along each week. I too have an oversized collection of cookbooks - it's hard not to acquire several more each time my interest expands into another cuisine or cooking method! But it really is wonderful to have all those resources at your fingertips, isn't it? And yes, some of those books make for the finest reading anywhere!

Rowena said...

Only 16 more to go? And then what? I have yet to make some of Maida's cookies! I beg off with the excuse that for now, it's too hot to be cranking up the oven for dozens of cookies. For now. I'll wait until after August when all of the guinea pigs, errr... the boys at hubby's office are back from vacation. ;-)

Cathy said...

Hi Rowena! But you made the Hamentaschen, didn't you? I'm sure there'll be plenty of time for baking cookies when the weather turns cool :) As for my next project, I can tell you this: it won't be cookies and it won't involve cooking my way through a book! I do have an idea and I've started to think about it and do some reading, but I won't say what it is just yet :)

Niki said...

My god - I simply can't believe you've been doing this since 2004, and I've been reading them every week! I'm so impressed at your dedication and stamina. I'm about to go for a winter girly weekend with lots of mulled wine and open fires, and I'm looking to bake some cookies to take up; most definitely they'll be something from the Maida book!

Anonymous said...

Yes I did those Hamentaschens, but that was nothing compared to what you've done and are still doing!

I hope you do something on craftwork or knitting. I'm thinking of heading in that direction because of the beautiful yarns that I see in the shops here. As for your comment on "the torch", let me just say that that piece of "weakness" sees more use as a candle lighter than anything else. ;-)

Cathy said...

Hi Niki! Can you believe we've been blogging that long? Enjoy your winter weekend... and your cookies!!

Hi Rowena! Well, my Maida cookies may out-number yours, but I'll bet your lifetime cookie count far exceeds mine... or at least your gingerbreadman count does! So you don't get much use out of your little torch, huh? I keep thinking about buying one and then don't. Maybe I can wait a bit longer then :)

Leigh said...

The library! Duh, why didn't I think of that. Just think, once you're done with your cookie baking you can learn to spin :)

Cathy said...

Hi Leigh! It's not too late for the library! Actually, it'd be nice to get a little weaving done - it's been a long time!

Nupur said...

Those washboards look like something I would just love! Your hand-made cookies are so professional, Cathy. There is something to be said for cookies that are made lovingly by hand, one by one.
This project of yours is really something!! I look forward to "et cetera" and am going to be a little sad at the end.

Cathy said...

Hi Nupur! Thank you! I have to say that Maida's precise instructions are a big help in getting good results! I think I'll probably be a little sad when it's over too - but not too sad. :)