Monday, November 12, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Cheese Pennies

Page 269 in the old book / page 287 in the new book

This is it - the VERY LAST ONE!! But before the celebrating begins, I've got some business to attend to - these Cheese Pennies. I've seen recipes like this before and honestly wasn't all that excited about this one before I made it, but I wound up being nearly as enthusiastic as the cookie panel. First I like the size - despite the name, these are a generous 2+ inches across; second- the dough is easy to mix, shape and slice; and finally they taste great.

I used 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (actually, red chilli powder from the Indian grocery which I think is the same) and to my taste you would want no less. They had a warmth and spicy bite to them, but not so much to make you run for a glass of water. With 8 ounces of cheese and 4 ounces of butter, these are very rich crackers. The hot pepper heightens the cheese flavor and cuts through that richness - sort of like very nippy Cheez-it crackers.

I think the instructions given for toasting sesame seeds are fairly standard, but I found the time and or the temperature were way too much. When you start smelling them you should watch them carefully. Instead of the recommended 15 or 20 minutes (at 350 F), I'd start checking after 6 or 7 minutes.

The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, which makes this a great do-ahead recipe for a dinner or party. Slicing them is a breeze - the dough holds together really well and there is nothing in the dough (like nuts or seeds) to catch on the knife. Maida says not to put the dough in the freezer, but I think that is just because you don't want to slice it frozen. I'm guessing you could freeze it and then let it thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two if you wanted to mix the dough more than a few days ahead.

I thought for sure Denny would cut me a break and not dock points for no chocolate in a cheese cracker, but nooo... Here's the panel ...

Suzanne: "First of all I love anything with sesames and I also love cheese. So I was in seventh heaven with the crackers. Cathy used a sharp cheddar cheese with quite a zing to it. I needed a drink of water to cut the sharpness of the cheddar. I’d like to thank Cathy for making me famous by asking me to be a participant in her blog. I’m sure my prophetic words will go down in cookie history. Each week, the whole office lived in anticipation wondering what delicious cookie Cathy would bring in to entice our palettes. In sincerity, it has been a pleasure knowing Cathy and being part of the blog. I’ll be reading your blog from California. Rating - 5.0"

Denny: "The taste really surprised me because I didn't know what they were. These were excellent - light and tasty. 4.0 which is the highest you can get with the -1 no chocolate penalty. Rating - 4.0"

Laura: "Spicy and cheesy with a nutty crunchy sesame topping. Very yum! Rating - 4.5"

Terri: "These would make a delicious appetizer. Cheesy, spicy and not too filling. I would love to eat them with a glass of red wine! The sesame seeds on top add a nice texture. Rating - 5.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.6

And that is all she wrote! But it's not quite all I wrote... tomorrow I'll share my favorites from the chapter and then Wednesday I'll compile my own top 10 list from the book.

OK, Here comes the celebration part... just for fun, I'll tally up how much butter, nuts, flour, sugar, etc. I used during the course of this project. Anyone want to hazard a guess? Leave a comment with your best guesses to the answers to these questions: 1) How many pounds of butter? 2) How many eggs? 3) How many cups of flour? 4) How many cups of sugar (all kinds totaled together)? Also let me know if you have a copy of the book or not (or if you'd like one for someone else). I have one copy of the old book (a brand new copy) to give away and two other little prizes for the closest answers. You must post your answers by midnight EST this Thursday (11/15). I'll post the totals for these and a few more ingredients on Friday and announce the winners.

What's next? I'll tell you all about that next week!

Nutrition Facts

update: regarding my little celebratory guessing game - a question about what would be included in the totals was raised... the ingredients for each and every recipe in the book will be counted once. No matter if I've made the recipe one time or ten times. The other clarification I'll add is that I'm going to add egg yolks and egg whites together (10 yolks + 10 whites = 10 eggs) when coming up with a total for eggs, but if I have 10 extra egg whites, they'll count as 10 eggs.


chuckless said...

I've been checking your blog all morning waiting for this post...CONGRATULATIONS CATHY!!!!!

You did it, you finished. And, not only did you do all of the recipes but you made the whole process fun and exciting. Monday's will go back to being the drudgery they always were before your "Mondays with Maida".

I'm not going to guess how much of anything you used since I have NO idea (AND since someone very special already gave us the book) but I can't wait to see the tally.

Now, get some rest and get cracking on that next project. I'll be in withdrawal until you start up!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Cathy! It must feel like crossing the finish line of a marathon (I guess I have marathons on my mind after the New York race and then watching a documentary about the Boston Marathon on PBS over the weekend...) I'm glad, too, that you liked the final recipe. Like everyone else, I'm wondering...what next?

Nupur said...

Congratulations and celebrations!!! This is just awesome, Cathy!
And how wonderful to end the book with this savory cracker. Like your reviewer Terri, I would *love* these with a glass of wine. I have to try making these, particularly as I am addicted to cheez-its (sssshhh, don't tell anyone, please).
Ok, here are my guesses:
1. 35 lbs of butter
2. Eggs: about 150
3. Flour: 200 cups
4. Sugar: 250 cups
And yes, I have a very beloved copy of this book, signed by someone special :)
Big hug to you!

Zarah Maria said...

Awesome Cathy! Congrats! Can't wait to see what your next project will be;) I have NO idea as to how much butter, eggs, flour and sugar you've used, but I'm pretty sure they're obscene amounts... Good thing you didn't have to eat it all yourself, heh!

Unknown said...

Since I found your blog, I've looked forward to Mondays! I always like seeing the ratings and deciding if Denny would dock points! ;-) I've also looked for this book in several book store and can't seem to find it, so this would be cool to have. Anyway, here are my guesses:

Butter - 75 pounds
Eggs - 220
Flour - 300 cups
Sugar - 250 cup

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy,

Congratulations! What an accomplishment!

I have the newer book, and here are my guesses.

1) How many pounds of butter? 37

2) How many eggs? 150

3) How many cups of flour? 250

4) How many cups of sugar (all kinds totaled together)? 150

I think it is great that you added all this up. I once baked for 3 days to host an insane dessert party. I kept a spreadsheet with the ingredients. (It actually helped me to make my shopping list!) -Lisa

Elijah said...

*virtual hug* YAYYY Cathy! Congratulations!!

Growing up, I've always loved reading cookbooks in bookstores even if I (well, usually) never bought them because the pictures and the little author's notes alongside the recipe would absolutely make my day. Then I discovered your blog, which captures all that joy and more because of 1) The pictures!!! and 2) you critically analyze the recipes and the baking process, and don't just glowingly describe everything 3) It's all the best part of the meal, desserts!!

I don't have the book yet, but I'd be happy to try so many of the spectacular recipes if I won it.

Point of clarification, are you counting the ingredients used when you made recipes more than once, eg. when you made the marshmallows to top those cookies that spread too much and looked kinda weird but still ended up delicious?

In any case let's give it a shot:

1. Butter: a pound is 4 sticks so... 50 pounds
2. Eggs: 10 dozen eggs
3. Flour: 500 cups of flour
4. Sugar: 400 cups of sugar, all kinds.

Say, how did you stay motivated to keep blogging week after week? do you have any advice?

Leigh said...

Well done! Congratulations! You have so many good guesses and I don't have a clue so I won't even try.

Hmm, Cayenne and chili powder. I think "chili" is another term for hot pepper and cayenne is one type of hot petter. Now you've got me curious! I'll have to go and look it up.

Rowena said...

Whoohoo! I still can't get over that Mondays with Maida is complete. I can't even begin to imagine how much on the ingredients...too much brain cells involved (she says at 10 in the morning).

I'm looking forward to life after MWM. Way to go Cathy!

reid said...


I can't believe you baked your way through the entire book. I give you so much credit for seeing this all the way to the very end.

Absolutely amazing! I can't wait to see what comes next.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cathy. Congratulations on a wonderful project!

And those cheese pennies ... ooh-ah!

Thanks so much for doing this. I anxiously await your next project! :)

Cathy said...

Hi Chuck! You're so sweet to be on the lookout for my post and saying all those nice things... thank you, thank you, thank you!

Hi Mari! Thank you! Yes it does feel like that... well except if I had been in an actual marathon I'd probably be unable to walk :) News about what's next very soon!

Hi Nupur! Thank you!! My dad adored Cheez-its! He probably still does, but I don't think my mom allows any in the house. I used to really like them too, but I have much better self-control in the grocery store than at home - so none in my house either :)

Hi Zarah! Thank you! Oh my gosh, if I hadn't been able to bring all those cookies to work... let's not go there!

Hi Claire! Thanks! Denny was pretty consistent about that no chocolate penalty, wasn't he? Someone in my office suggested I should have brought in a couple of cheese pennies with chocolate icing just for him - wish I'd thought of that!

Hi Lisa - thank you! I have all the ingredients in my cookbook software (which I used to calculate the nutrient information), but getting them into spreadsheet form takes a little manipulating - it's really fun data though!

Hi Elijah! Thanks so much! I've added some clarifications to the original post, but yes - count each recipe just once. As for blogging - I think nearly everyone when they start has lots of enthusiasm and finds it easy going. That definitely wears off after a while, but with this project I had a specific (attainable) goal and after a certain point I had enough time and effort invested in it that momentum sort of pulled me along to the finish. Actually, it was more like dragging than pulling by the end :)

Hi Leigh! Thanks! The "red chilli powder" you find in Indian groceries is different than what is sold as chili powder in regular groceries. It's pure ground chiles, though I'm not certain what kind (chili powder is a blend of spices). I think the heat is similar to that of cayenne. You're right, though - cayenne is a specific kind of chile pepper.

Hi Rowena! Thanks so much! I should have made my own guesses on those ingredients first - wonder how close I would have come?

Hi Reid! Thank you!! Thanks for sticking through it with me the whole way through, Reid!

Hi Ann! Thanks!! Still a couple more cookie-related posts to go, then on to something entirely different :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, Me again. I am posting my estimates of how much of what was used...

Butter: about 20 lbs.
Eggs: 130
Flour: 130 Cups
Sugar: 70 Cups

*In a perfect world there would be three times the amount of sugar used.

Kari said...

I'm a little late but still wanted to say my Congratulations. I admire the dedication it took to make every recipe in a cookbook. Every time I think about baking cookies I think about you and your Mondays with Maida.

Way to go!

Cathy said...

Hi Grommie! A belated thank-you to you!