Morbid Meals – Conjurer’s Cookies

EXAMINATION

MM01The Magician will never divulge their secret, and with most of their illusions, truly if you knew how they were done, you’d be disappointed.

Such is not the case with cooking, in my mind. Knowing not only the ingredients, but the recipe, for your favorite dish, is crucial, but learning to master a technique and improve upon it can make a meal into something extraordinary.

For the Magician tarot card, I wanted to find something, dare I say, magically delicious. Kristy Lynn of the Sweet Insanity Bake Shop created the original Unicorn Poop™ cookies, a fun multi-colored sugar cookie full of glitter and sprinkles. These inspired me to make something even more magical. If these rainbow delights were gluten-free AND sugar-free, they would be unbelievable! So, gather round as I share the secrets of the Conjurer’s Cookies!

ANALYSIS

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients

35 g coconut flour
70 g arrowroot (or tapioca starch)
105 g sweet potato flour (or potato starch)
140 g sweet rice flour
1 tsp xantham gum, guar gum, or psyllium husk
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar substitute, like Splenda for baking
2 whole eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract, or other flavorings
Food Coloring, Standard colors (Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue)

Decoration (optional)

1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
Shimmer Dust (Wilton)

Apparatus

  • Plastic cling wrap
  • Cookie sheet
  • Cheap Paint Brushes

Procedure

  1. Measure and sift together the flours, gum (or psyllium husk), and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer, or by hand, cream the softened butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to combine.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. It will make a very thick batter, but not quite a solid dough. Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes to thicken up a bit so you can easily divide it.
  4. Divide the dough into six pieces and add your food coloring to each. You will need about 12 drops per color: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple. If you get the standard four-pack of colors (Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue) then you can make Orange (8 Yellow and 4 Red drops), and Purple (9 Red and 3 Blue drops). I find mashing in with a fork works well to blend the colors into the dough.
  5. Wrap each colored dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You can also freeze these to use later.
  6. Take them out of the fridge or freezer and allow to thaw slightly.
  7. With one colored piece of dough at a time, roll into a long thin log. Start with Red and go down the rainbow, if you like, and place each log next to each other. It is OK if the logs are not consistently thick or long.
  8. Roll the rainbow into itself to form a multi-colored log and gently roll to lengthen the log a bit and let the colors merge a little. The goal is to have distinct colors, so don’t let the colors bleed together and mix.
  9. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a cookie sheet, or add a sheet of parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
  10. Cut your dough log into about 16 pieces. (Quarter it, then quarter each piece.) With each piece, roll down again to make a thin enough piece to lay down in a flat spiral. Each spiraled disk should be reminiscent of tie-dye.
  11. To add just that extra-special effect, make an egg wash in a small bowl with the egg white and water. With a clean paintbrush, or a pastry brush, mix the egg wash and then brush onto each cookie. Sprinkle a pinch of Shimmer Dust onto each cookie. A great way is to use another dry paint brush dipped into the Shimmer Dust and flick onto the cookies. Do not be tempted to mix the Shimmer Dust into the egg wash — it will clump up.
  12. Put cookie sheet in fridge and chill to set form for at least 30 minutes.
  13. Bake on the center rack at 400°F for 10-12 minutes. These cookies will spread as there’s no gluten to bind them. Bake them until they are just slightly crispy.
  14. Remove to a cooling rack and let them cool and firm up.

DISSECTION

This is a project that kids will absolutely want to help with, as it is like playing with clay. Have fun with this one. It is part of the magic.

POST-MORTEM

These are surprisingly good, especially warm. I made these originally with vanilla extract which gives a traditional sugar cookie flavor, but my brain kept telling me it expected fruit flavors. It might be fun to do each color as a different flavor, but I expect the resulting flavor would be very muddled like fruit punch. But hey, if you try it, let me know!

Morbid Meals – Skillet Hermit Cookies

EXAMINATION

MM09For the Hermit card, I originally pondered finding a recipe that would serve just one person. However, I love to cook for my family so I don’t think I even know how to cook for just one person. I haven’t done that since I was a bachelor.

So instead I pondered other types of hermits. Hermit crab sprang to mind, so I thought about a crab recipe, but then I remembered Hermit cookies. Tasty raisin-spice cookies that I hadn’t had in forever. So I dug up my recipe, one that was inspired by a 135-year old recipe.

Maria Parloa was a famous cook in the 1880’s. She opened Miss Parloa’s School of Cooking in Boston around 1877, and in 1880 published MISS PARLOA’S NEW COOK BOOK. I had a copy of this cookbook many ages ago, but have since turned to electronic versions of the book many times.

Her original recipe for Hermit cookies is as follows:

Two cupfuls of sugar, one of butter, one of raisins (stoned and chopped), three eggs, half a teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in three table-spoonfuls of milk; a nutmeg, one teaspoonful each of clove and cinnamon, and six cupfuls of flour. Roll about one-fourth of an inch thick, and cut with a round cake cutter. Bake in a rather quick oven. It will take about twelve minutes.

Times and tastes have changed since then, as have cooking directions. For instance a “quick oven” means hot enough to bake quickly, which would be roughly 400°F. Thompson seedless grapes were a novelty during this time, so some raisins might still have had seeds, called stones, which needed to be removed, hence the term “stoned”.

Recipes for Hermits are many and varied since this recipe from 1880, but they have been quite the staple in New England. As for my own recipe below, it evolved from many of these variations, but I still try to honor the simplicity of the original. One twist I added, however, is to bake it in a skillet. This makes a thick, chewy cookie that you can slice into bars, or cover in vanilla ice cream and eat while still warm.

ANALYSIS

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup dark, unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

Apparatus

  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Electric stand mixer

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In electric mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar together.
  3. Add in molasses, mix until combined.
  4. Add egg, mix until combined.
  5. Dissolve baking soda into buttermilk, and add to batter, mix until combined.
  6. In another mixing bowl, sift flour and spices together, and add the raisins. Mix this into the wet ingredients.
  7. Spread the dough into your skillet.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove skillet from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  10. Slice into wedges and enjoy.

DISSECTION

You can substitute 1 cup of brown sugar for the sugar and molasses, but I prefer the extra deep flavor and extra chewiness that the molasses brings.

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with regular milk, but then use baking powder instead of baking soda. This provides the acid needed that would otherwise have been in the buttermilk.

POST-MORTEM

These are a delightful cross between raisin spice cake and cookies, and the skillet only adds to the old-fashioned nature of the recipe.