Blog Post 1: Cookies
I’m Jess. I (really) like mountains, and food is pretty good, too. I spend a lot of my time hiking, climbing, and munching down on calorie-dense granola bars. Every now and then, a cookie sneaks in there- but they usually taste like cardboard. So, naturally, I tried to incorporate something nutritious, delicious, and mountain-inspired in to my cookie creation.
My final and most successful design was my second iteration of my Peak Prisms. The idea was to make a three-dimensional cookie, inspired by my favorite aspects of nature, with a slightly unusual taste and a surprise inside. I started with a basic cutout-cookie base and went from there.
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- .5 cups sugar
- .5 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 large egg
- splash of vanilla
- dollop of molasses- add more as needed
- cinnamon to desired amount
- Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon).
- Cream butter (works best if room temperature) and sugar, then add egg and vanilla. Mix together until smooth and pale. I used a fork for this and it worked fine.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients (whichever bowl is bigger) and work together into a dough. *Add molasses at this point, but not too much to where the dough is too sticky. If the dough becomes too sticky, you can add more flour. I worked it with my hands when it became too hard to mix and formed it into a ball to refrigerate for an hour.
- I tried not to incorporate the molasses too much- I wanted the dough to appear dark in some spots and light in the others, and overall to be uneven like a rock surface.
- When dough is done chilling, take it out and start forming into prisms about the size of a ping pong ball. Should be uneven and unmatched, like mountains. Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges become golden brown and cookies are hard to the touch. Should remain slightly soft on the interior.
- When cooled, dip tops into white chocolate. Let cool completely. Consume with a class of milk, watching your favorite mountain-inspired documentary. I recommend Into Thin Air or Valley Uprising.
But let’s rewind a bit…
My first thought when given this assignment was, what makes a cookie a cookie? I started from there and began listing elements that describe a cookie in my mind. I also made a point to list ingredients and qualities that I enjoy in a cookie, ignoring (at this point) if they were common or unusual. My main objective was just to get as many ideas on paper as possible.
Idea №1: Cactus Cookies
The idea for this cookie came from another one of my passions- the desert, and the plants that inhabit them. The idea for a double cookie hybrid of sorts came about from thinking of a way to make them three dimensional. I finally settled on the idea of a dough-ball-esque cookie, colored in an earth-tone, and “planted” in a small pot of Oreo “soil”.
I decided I needed to go out to get a few basic ingredients that I didn’t have, but I put off buying the tiny little flower pots until what I assumed would be the final bake- just in case things went wrong (which they did).
Initially, I thought I would make these cactus cookies look as realistic and plant-like as possible. I had dreams of greens and browns (food coloring, perhaps), crushed-nut pebbles for the Oreo “dirt”, and much more. As I took stock of my pantry, however, I realized that I had a can of pumpkin hiding in the back that would be fun to use. Pumpkin is a great flavor to for baking and I thought it would be interesting to combine it with a couple other spices/ingredients to make a more savory cookie.
When I was finished getting groceries and taking stock of my pantry, I came up with these ingredients for my first test-run of the Cactus Cookies:
Afterwards, I started mixing things together. Along the way, I tossed in a few extra ingredients, as you can see in the photos. I didn’t follow any kind of recipe for this iteration; I just went off memory and the basic knowledge of making cookies. I first mixed the dry ingredients, added the wet together, and formed a dough. I soon ran into a problem, however…
Idea №2: Peak Prisms
This idea was my favorite and what I hoped to land on initially. My original plan was to attach 4 triangularly shaped sugar-cookie cutouts, flavored and colored with molasses and some other spices, together to form a pyramid/prism of sorts. My plan was to attach them with icing. Then, I would dip the tops in white chocolate for a snowy effect, and then maybe add some nuts for a rocky effect on the bottom. I thought this was innovative because of the shape, and the fact that if possible, I could insert a small fortune (or even a smaller cookie!!) inside the prism as it dried.
For this recipe, I had most of the ingredients- the tricky part would be forming the cookie and making it look like a mountain.
Things went interestingly from the beginning. I pulled out my ingredients and realized, through some mistake of my own, that I didn’t have enough of the wet ingredients. I managed, however, to pull together some butter, an egg, vanilla, sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and a bit of molasses for the final product. I wrapped it up and stuck it in the freezer to chill quickly- the idea was that I would roll out the dough, cut it into triangles of equal shape, and then put them together.
As you can see here, I didn’t have a lot of dough. So I was forced to abandon my original idea, as 12 cookies would take 48 individual triangles of equal size. I had a different idea as I was baking, however- why not form the cookies as pyramids BEFORE baking them, and then dipping them in chocolate? Unfortunately, this would eliminate my hide-something-in-the-cookie idea, but it would work.
By the time they finished baking, I was able to cool them, dip them in melted white chocolate for a snowy effect, and try to cool them. I had my roommates taste-test the tiny mountains, and the verdict was in: pretty good!
Next time, I think I want to try going all out with the build-a-pyramid idea. I’ll put a little inspirational quote in there. Hopefully people won’t eat the paper. I may or may not have done that before.