Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Imaginatively Named Mrs. Moran's Squares

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we are pleased to present... these things!

Mrs. Moran's Squares
4 egg whites
¼ tsp salt
1 c sugar
1 c graham cracker crumbs
½ c chocolate chips
½ c coconut
½ chopped walnuts*
1 tsp vanilla
9 graham crackers

Heat oven to 350°. Line a square pan with foil, then line the bottom with graham crackers.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar in small amounts, scattering each addition over the top rather than just dumping it in one place and beating it in thoroughly before adding the next. Fold in the vanilla, then the rest of the ingredients.
Spread in the pan and bake for 30 minutes.


Mrs. Richard C Moran, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas: Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968

It's kind of rare to see someone sending in a recipe she named for herself. Maybe every time they had a church social, someone would say "Oh, Mrs. Moran, please bring some of those squares you make!" Or maybe she always set them out in the center of the dessert table whenever she had company because people always anticipated them. At any rate, they have to be good, right?

At the beginning, making these looks just like making kisses.

Well, they better be good, because the beginning of these involves a lot of time with an electric mixer. When your egg whites grow horns, does that mean they have reached adulthood, that you have a protective spirit in the kitchen, or that Satan will attack your hips?

Meringues may look like pretty ice sculptures when photographed, but this got really iffy looking with the rest of the stuff in it.

Fortunately, the graham crackers at the bottom didn't look any good either, so it all matched. Lacking a square pan, the pot was called into service. Square crackers do not go nicely into round pans.
I don't care how bad the foil looks; I didn't have to wash the pot afterward.


It went into the oven looking like someone dumped sand into icing...

...and came out looking like it went through a severe drought.
I thought about calling it "Texas Lakebed Cake."

Très tempting, non?

However, on the inside, all meringue-ness had disappeared. It just seemed like graham cracker, coconut, and chocolate chips held together by some magical force. With meringue on top.

However, these were really good. I really liked how the graham crackers went soft in baking. There was a crisp layer of meringue on top and at the edges. Not sure if they're quite worth the bother, but they're really good all the same.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hump-Day Quickie: Banoffee Pie

We at A Book of Cookrye have regularly fielded the question Do we ever make anything recent? Ever? Well, today we're going to! We present... Banoffee pie!

Banoffee Pie
1 or 2 14-oz cans condensed milk*
2-3 bananas
1 baked pie crust, graham cracker or regular

Boil the unopened cans of condensed milk on their sides for 2-3 hours, making sure they are always completely submerged in the water. With some recipes it would mess things up, but for this you can just dump cold water in to top it up. (Use a really deep pot so you don't have to obsessively check the water level every 5 minutes.) While it's boiling, make a pie crust and bake it. (You'll want to bake it even if you go with a graham cracker one). When the milk is done, cool it immersed in water lest the cans pop open (you can hurry this by putting them in ice water). Slice the bananas and lay them in the crust. Pour/spread the condensed milk on top. You can put whipped cream, chocolate, fruit, or whatever on top if you like.

*One can will spread kind of thinly over the bananas, two will completely cover them. Pick whichever sounds better to you.

Can you drop something in boiling water?
Behold, the next two or three hours.

This isn't the first time I've seen people boiling condensed milk into cajeta. The Around-The-World Cookbook from Pan-Am Airways has a recipe for cajeta that involves stirring a pot of milk and sugar for hours until browned, as is the traditional way. A note under the recipe says that in many households people just boil a can of condensed milk instead. It may not be quite the same, but the last time I tried it the hard way, literally all the water boiled away and I was stirring a pot of powder.

If you share a kitchen, you may need to leave a note because people don't understand someone apparently abandoning an unopened can in boiling water for most of the night.

I actually found it quite odd this was invented in the UK. Cajeta and bananas both come from the Americas, so why did it take someone across the Atlantic to put them together?
You may be thinking "Two to three hours!?", but since all you have to do once it's on the stove is dump in water every half hour or so (assuming you're using a deep pot), you can just leave it and go about your other business. Or, if you're already doing a lot of cooking, just get it on the stove at the beginning. I let it go while I got caught up on a lot of homework.

I did not have the patience after it came off the stove.

If you cool them in ice water, you can freak out your friends. Since the outside of the can will cool off first while the center stays really hot, you can lift the apparently cold can out of the water, hand it to someone, and tell them to shake it. It'll go from cold to really hot in their hand in seconds. Incidentally, you can also tell it's cool enough to take out of the water and open without worrying about scalding milk splatters when you shake it and it doesn't get warm.
Aw, yeah.

As it's cooling, you can get out your best cutting board and slice the bananas.
...using your handy-dandy combination pie slicer, cake server, and tea strainer.

As you can see, one can just barely covers it. If you want the bananas completely coated, you'll want to boil two.

As it is, it comes off looking like a sort-of... I don't know. But it's good. I was kind of swarmed with people once word got out.
So... good....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Properly Managed Kisses

We at A Book of Cookrye have fielded a few accusations that we never make anything from any recipe source others have heard of. Today, it is our special pleasure to announce we're going to pull from one of the best-selling cookbooks of the century!
...The 19th century, that is. We are pleased to present, Kisses!

1 c sugar
4 egg whites
1 tsp lemon extract

Heat oven to 375°.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Add lemon extract. Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Scatter each spoonful over the top rather than just dumping it in so it doesn't clump together when you beat it. Beat each addition in thoroughly, so that there are no sugar grains (toward the end, they may be slightly perceptible) before adding the next.
Mound onto paper, using about a spoonful or so per cookie, and sculpt into shape with the back of the spoon. It's actually easier to lift it out of the bowl on the back of the spoon than to lift it on the front, set it on the paper, then shape it with the back. Or you can put it in a baggie and squirt it on, which would probably be a lot easier.
Bake until a nice sandy brown. Rather than peeling the paper off, you may find it easier to stick a fork or spatula under them.

As you can see, we didn't vary this from the recipe aside from cutting it in half:
Miss Leslie, Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, 1837

I must say I agree with half of the last sentence. Kisses do indeed require so much practice and dexterity to manage properly. However, I can't personally attest to the last part. Is a candy shop really the best place to procure proper kisses? If I test this, I will be sure to pass on the results.

I forget what I was making, but at some point when I was still learning to cook I was making a recipe that started off with cracking fourteen egg whites. I cracked them all, then saw they were in fact kind of yellowish. Thinking I'd messed up and gotten yolk in there and just never seen it, I dumped about twenty minutes of tedium down the disposal. I've since learned that yes, egg whites do have their own yellowish tinge.


Anyway, this recipe is really easy, if not so white you could get the Wite-Out people to sponsor it. (Note: I don't mean white as in the race; I mean... well, look at the (lack of) color in this!) Anyone who can hold an electric mixer can do it. However, let us contemplate the person making this when Miss Leslie published her book, using only a whisk because even the hand-cranked egg beater wasn't yet invented. Eesh.
It looks like either a magical ice kingdom or someone's lair.

At the end, we had an astonishingly thick mixture of egg whites and sugar. I had no idea they could get this stiff. If it wasn't so sticky, one might have used it for modeling clay.
Ever been impaled by egg whites?

At this point, I would like to share a quick Book of Cookrye lesson. You see, we had no parchment paper. Having decided that the original recipe says to use "white paper" anyway, we used the backs some old printouts.
It looks like a lot of soft-serve cones.

While it definitely worked, did you know that toner is heat transferable?
There's an art project waiting to happen here.

Remove the printout from the cookie sheet required drastic measures. Since heat glued it on, heat had to take it off.
Nothing like scouring a boiling pan with a scrubber on a spoon.

However, the cookies were really tasty and nearly weightless in your hand. They melted in your mouth. I really liked how the outside was crunchy but the inside was soft like the meringue on top of a pie. It wasn't raw or runny, it just wasn't hardened.
So good!

However, I don't know what Miss Leslie was talking about when she got to pressing them together when they came out of the oven and leaving them to cool. They cooled almost the instant they came off of the pan. Also, don't try to peel the paper off. This will happen.
It's a lot easier to jam a fork under them and force them off, although that's a little dicey too.
And granted, these got some seriously big air pockets in baking:

But that doesn't matter because these were just that good. We got about a dozen and a half kisses out of this, but they disappeared in less than 10 minutes. If you want them thoroughly crunchy, you could bake them longer. If you like them really soft in the middle, you can take them out just as they get barely browned.
These disappear really quickly.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rose-Marzipan Spirals: The results of watching the discount rack

After the surprise cookies, we at A Book of Cookrye wanted to make something that would actually be good. Also, we grabbed a bunch of these out of the discount rack and wanted to make something of them.

We at A Book of Cookrye had no idea what to do with this marzipan. We are not unique in this regard; enough people don't know what to do with marzipan that they have a web address printed on the box for tutorials. Opening it up, we found it looks like beige Play-Doh, feels like beige Play-Doh, and tastes like almond extract.

Rose-Marzipan Spirals
½ c butter
¼ c sugar
½ tsp rose water* (or whatever flavoring you think goes with almond)
Food coloring if desired
1¼ c flour
1 (7 oz.) box marzipan
1 tbsp. milk (approx.)

Heat oven to 300°. Grease a cookie sheet well.
Thoroughly beat the sugar and butter (it's easier if you leave the butter out to soften all day than if you microwave it). Stir in the extract and coloring, then mix in the flour.
Roll the dough on a floured surface until it's a rectangle-oval-ish shape somewhere between ¼" - ½" thick. Roll the marzipan to the same size, also on a floured surface. Lift up the marzipan to be sure it is not stuck onto the counter.
Transfer the dough on top of the marzipan (you may end up patching it on). Then-- this is the tricky part-- carefully flip it over so that when you roll it up, the cookie dough will be on the outside.† Roll it up, and slice into pieces ¼" - ½" thick.
Bake about 20-30 minutes, or until they smell a little bit toasted.

*This is fairly cheap in middle-Eastern stores. If there are none nearby and you have to go to a foofy upscale grocery before you find any rose water, spare yourself the expense and just use something else.
You could just put the marzipan on top of the dough. But, since the dough tends to stick to the counter and then come up in pieces anyway, I found this way actually ended up being easier. I didn't have to try to unstick it as I was rolling it up.

Tonight we are doing something with this cookie recipe and the marked-down marzipan! Also, we are going to make them pink because for some reason we have a lot of red food coloring.
Marcus' parents sent him home with this when he visited and asked if they had any food coloring for... you know, I forget what we meant to make. All I know is we're set to make three heart attacks' and a diabetic stroke's worth of red velvet cakes. Where does one buy this much food coloring?
Around 3AM when you're going nuts from homework, you can shake it at people who annoy you and say it's blood.

Having carefully dripped some drops into the dough, it was indeed pink. There may be no point in coloring late night homework sustenance, but we all have our ways of amusing ourselves. Besides, it would go well with the rose water.
It's pink!

Some people can roll things out into neat, tidy shapes. My great-grandmother could roll tortillas into perfect circles. I'm more like my sister, who once lifted the dough off the counter, held it up, and said it was Massachusetts.
I guess they're shaped like some tiny island countries somewhere.

And so, after sticking the cookie dough piecewise onto the marzipan and carefully turning it over, we had a floury beige patty with pink fluff underneath.
I don't know whether I think this looks good or like disappointment waiting to happen.

And so, to carry us through another long night of work, we have this pink and beige roll! The colors work surprisingly well.
So neat and tidy!

This may be the prettiest slice-and-bake I've made. Or maybe it's just really late.

Even the end of it looks vaguely like a flower bud. Or at least, what a flower bud might look like if you cut off the bottom half.
I almost want to make green cookie dough and make cookie-marzipan flower things.

We actually got surprisingly neat slices given how... er... free-form the roll was.

As they baked, we pondered how wrong they could go. A bit leery from the barbecue sauce brownies, we reminded ourselves there was nothing too unusual in these. The worst we had to fear was the cookies falling apart.
They expanded more than I thought.

Look at how pretty they are!
Look closer!

The only problem was that I might have left them in the oven about 5 minutes too long. The marzipan caramelized on the bottom. If you like the way a Butterfinger stays in your teeth, you wouldn't mind.

Since it was early enough for people to still be downstairs, I ended up getting several opinions on these, by which I mean people kept asking for one and I couldn't turn them down since I regularly waylay anyone with a pizza box. Everyone liked them. The only thing I might do differently aside from baking them less is maybe cut the dough slices in half. These were kinda big.
By the way, they hold up to tea dunking really well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Second-stab Saturday: Pepper cake is so much better with chocolate chips

Today on Second-Stab Saturdays, we present what we made to justify our friends driving out to try our sad run-in with the inbred ancestor of gingerbread!

Chocolate Chip bars
3 eggs
1½ c sugar
1½ c flour
Almond extract
12 oz chocolate chips (semisweet or milk chocolate, whichever you like)

Heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 9"x13" pan*.
Beat eggs and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Stir in almond extract. Mix in flour gently but thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread into the pan. Bake 30-45 minutes, until slightly golden on top (it'll probably be paler than you think it should be) and when a knife/toothpick/whatever comes out with no melted batter on it. Cut them while very hot.

*These really want to stick to the pan, so you'll want to take the extra step of flouring it before putting the dough in.

-Adapted from the Woman's Club of Ft. Worth Cook Book, 1928 (submitter: Mrs. Henry King)

As some of you may know, we tried a pepper cake a while ago which seemed like it really wanted to be chocolate chip cookies. It was good, but seemed like it wanted to be made with chocolate chips.
Jumbo chocolate chips.

Having run out of vanilla, a generous allotment of almond extract was used. It was so worth it. However, due to the 9x13 pan being occupied with the unbearable sadness of culinary Tudor travesties, it went in the skillet this time.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

And the results? Well, I did overbake it a bit. Thrown off by the lack of color on top, I accidentally let it get a bit hardened in the oven. And yet, this is how much was left:
Kelly chiselled these out of the pan and took them home.

So, to repeat, the gingerbread was so bad that six people left this much in the pan:

And this was so good that even the crumbs were wrapped up and taken home. The hardened edge pieces were so tasty I could have passed them off as chocolate chip biscotti. This is amazing. Plus, skipping out on beating the eggs beforehand made this easier, faster, and I didn't have to wash a second bowl.  Today's second stab is a total success!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Cook on an empty stomach: A Deep-Dish Lesson from all of us at A Book of Cookrye

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we would like to offer some gracious advice. We all have those days when it seems the universe does not want to afford us a lunch break. If you've been on your feet all day, scarcely stopping anywhere long enough to eat, you may not want to do any cooking. Otherwise, things like this might happen.

If you've had one of those days when it seems Gods' mysterious designs of love don't involve you having half an hour or so to get drive-thru, you will doubtless want to sup on something that makes up for it. That does not mean you should put this much meat in a pan:
Beef and sausage.

You may decide that despite its unfortunate resemblance to silicone spray, a canned pizza crust seems perfect for encasing what currently resides in the frying pan.

Even though your friend will figure out a good way to make the crust hold its shape while you're baking it, catch yourself in your erroneous ways and desist.

This will surely bring regret to you before the night is out. It's not too late to save the meat for some greater use.

You may try to tell yourself that you haven't had any protein all day and that tomato sauce is healthy, but in your heart you know you are deceiving yourself.

You may say that the cheese on top provides the calcium you haven't had all day, but you know that is a lie.

No amount of fresh produce on top can redeem you from what you are doing, even if it does look like the flag of Mexico on the cutting board.
You thought I was joking?

You may, at this point, decide it photographs really well. Savor this moment, for you will need it when the regret arrives.

By the time you remove it from the oven, it will be too late. Your fate is now inescapable, so you may as well not delay it.
Note the bicycles. Spend a lot of time with them afterward if you do this to yourself.

Just remember, when your "pizza" is nearly as deep as a loaf pan...
We'd already bent them for the crust, why bother getting out plates?

Even though your friend gets this happy eating it...

And even though at first you feel like this...

You'll be lying on the couch with only regret and pain before three hours have passed.