Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What to Do When Good Cookies Go Wrong

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

(This is a not a picture of the cookies gone wrong. It's a shot of the beauties created from the cookies gone wrong. Now, how can a person scoff at atonement?) 

Maybe it's just the sheer volume of cookies baked at this time of year, but we generally have a batch (or few) that get messed up: overdone, or weirdly flat (about that baking soda...), or missing a vital ingredients (like the gingersnaps without the ginger). It's not the end of the world, especially if the cookies are intended for a class of 3-year-olds or something. But it is annoying. It's really annoying when you're planning to give cookies to your dearest friends as gifts.

"Dear Dearest Friend,

Here is a batch of some of my favorite spice cookies. I overbaked them and forgot the ginger, and heck, you don't really want more cookies at this time of year anyway, but I hope you enjoy this gift as a symbol of our friendship.


Yeah, I'm just not feeling it. So when I screw up my Christmas cookies, I generally just make another batch.

But what to do about that edible, but imperfect pan of cookies sitting there on your counter.

Well, friends, when life hands you edible, but imperfect cookies, you make a wicked good pie (or cheesecake) crust, that's what you do.

Here's how:

1. Let your cookies dry out a bit (unless of course, they're fatal flaw was overbaking, in which case you should be good).

2. Put them in a blender or food processor (I found that for still slightly moist cookies, the food processor worked best) and blend them into crumbs, just like you could do with graham crackers for a graham cracker crust.

3. Make something with them this moment. Or put them in a Ziploc bag and freeze them until you need them. (Do yourself a favor and label them lest you forget what they are and end up thinking they're bread crumbs and use them on your next crusted chicken breast or casserole or stuffing).

4. And how exactly do you use them? Use them as you would graham cracker crumbs in a graham cracker crust.
a. A typical crust uses 1 packet or about 10 graham crackers. This comes out to 1 1/4 C crumbs. So if you want to sub in your cookie crumbs, sub in 1 1/4 Cto 1 1/2 C cookie crumbs.
b. Add in half the butter you would for a graham cracker crust and then add more butter if necessary. (You do this because your cookie crumbs tend to have more fat and moisture than graham crackers, so using as much melted butter as you normally would in a graham cracker crust would yield too wet of a crust.)

This year, I made a rather too dry batch of speculaas. It saddened me deeply, as speculaas is already a risky and misunderstood cookie in that people look at it and see a) a cookie they don't recognize as normal Christmas fare and b) a cookie sans chocolate.

Last night we made Seven Layer Cookies/Magic Cookie Bars. We used the standard graham cracker crust for some, but for another batch, we used the speculaas. I thought it came out pretty awesome. I'm thinking to use the rest as a crust for cheesecake. It would be especially delightful for a pumpkin cheesecake. Oh, yes, it would.

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