Monday, October 01, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Swedish Fried Twists

Swedish Fried Twists
Page 256 in the old book / page 274 in the new book

In spite of my dislike of deep fat frying, these cookies were actually fun to make. Rolling the dough was a little difficult (perhaps I kneaded it a little too long or vigorously), but other than that the dough was easily handled. Cutting the cookies is very simple - they are just rectangles with a slot cut in them. That little twist is easy enough - just pull one end of the rectangle through the slot. Best of all, though, is watching them cook. You drop that funny looking little bit of dough into the hot oil and up rises a puffy, beautifully shaped cookie.

Now if only they tasted half so good. In spite of some mighty exotic ingredients (cognac and cardamom), these cookies are exceedingly bland. In fact in the header note Maida herself even calls them "extremely plain". Why then? Why does practically every country have a variation of this cookie to call its own? I don't get it and I'm a little bummed that I bought a bottle of cognac in order to put two tablespoons into a cookie where it wouldn't even be noticed. You know me though, I'll probably keep that bottle until the day I die (as well as that old bottle of savory), so it's bound to come in handy for something between now and then. If you don't have cognac, and are intent on making these, I'm sure you could swap in something else (orange juice, rum...) or even replace the cognac with a little extra cream.

The fact that the whole world loves these cookies makes me wonder if I did something wrong. Maybe they were cooked too long or maybe something went wrong in the frying. I monitored the temperature of the oil closely, but used a fairly small pan, which meant that I could only cook two or three at a time and so had the oil heated for a quite a while. A dusting of confectioner's sugar perks these cookies up slightly, but not enough to make a repeat appearance in my kitchen likely.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "As I discussed with Cathy, the taste didn’t remind me of a cookie. Actually, the taste reminded me of Chinese food. I couldn’t taste the cognac or cardamom. They were very attractive with a twist and powdered sugar on top. The cookie tasted very plain and you could definitely taste the oil from frying the cookie. Sorry, Cathy, I know you put a lot of work into this cookie, but my rating is .5. Rating - 0.5"

Denny: "OK. They looked a little like pizelle dough, so I was prepared for the anise which I don't like. I was pleasantly surprised when the anise wasn't there so that makes them better than pizelles. -1 for chocolate give them a 2.0 by my tastebuds. Rating - 2.0"

Laura: "Okay flavor, but a little too oily for my liking. Perhaps if eaten just after being made (i.e. still hot) would have been better (though I know logistically that would be impossible). Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 1.8

Next week - Basler Brunsli

Nutrition Facts


Leigh said...

Well, they certainly look yummy to me!

Rowena said...

Yes I am very aware about your dislike of deep fat frying ;-). A shame for having to buy that cognac for nothing too!

These twists remind me of the italian bugie or chiacchiere that they make for carnevale. Wouldn't know if the dough is in anyway similiar (I believe marsala is the alcohol used), but the fried pastry strips are actually quite good.

Nupur said...

Yay, you deep-fried :D They look very pretty, Cathy. Actually, I see what she means by this type of "cookie" being made in different cultures. In Indian cuisines, we certainly have these types of fried strips of dough- both sweet and savory, and I love them :)
I think the panel may have been expecting cookies, and these don't fit that description at all. Well, if you have any left, I'll be thrilled to eat them all :D

Zarah Maria said...

Aha! Klejner! Cool! I like the ones we do around here, but we only eat them around Christmas - and I would never use cognac, but eh, whaddaya know? They look mighty pretty yours, Cathy - and yay for you on the deep-frying!:)

Carol H. said...

My Polish grandmother made a variation of these and called them "Polish potato chips," so maybe they're not meant to be sweet, but just be enjoyed more for their texture? I never liked them myself.

Anonymous said...

I couldn´t resist to post a comment from Sweden ... the cookies you made don´t look like the ones we make here but it is surely the same.

People usually make them for Christmas and in my opinion they are a bit tasteless so I understand why the rating is low.

A detail I can tell is that they always is served rolled in suger (not the fine one in the picture, but the more coarse sort, I don´t know the name) and the shape should be like the letter "E" and they should be very "round-ish" shape.

Keep up the good work Cathy! I am full of admiration for your work and it´s fun to read about all the cookies and what "the panel" thinks ...

Best regards/

Cathy said...

Hi Leigh - thank you!

Hi Rowena! I found a recipe for the Italian version here. marsala AND grappa! In the photo they look thin and fragile compared to mine - maybe if I rolled them more thinly...

Hi Nupur! Yes, my second deep-frying experience - before you know it I'll be making pooris without batting an eye :) I think you're right - expectations definitely figure into the scoring. Now you've got me curious about the Indian version(s)!

Hi Zarah! Yes, I remembered that you'd made the Danish version of these and pulled up your post to compare the recipes. The ingredients are certainly similar, but I think your dough might be richer (I didn't convert the amounts, so I'm not certain of that). I think I'll wait to sample these again until someone else makes them!

Hi Carol - that's interesting... maybe if I'd called them that, I'd have gotten higher scores!

Hi Veronica! Thanks so much for the interesting background... I'll bet a coarser sugar would help. They're not very sweet - so more sugar would definitely be an improvement. Thanks too for your encouragement regarding this project! I'm almost done - only 6 more to go, so I'm kind of limping to the finish line at this point :) But it always helps when I hear from someone that they've been enjoying my posts!

reid said...


These look interesting enough and maybe the confectioners sugar actually masked the subtle flavors of the cardamom and cognac.

I don't mind deep frying, I just don't like to clean up the mess afterwards.

Cathy said...

Hi Reid! Actually I wasn't really very heavy-handed with the powdered sugar... I think it was the oil that did the masking :) I'm coming around to not minding frying so much... but I hate using all that oil. I loved seeing these puff up and bob to the surface though!