Monday, June 02, 2008

Mad Baking

About a year ago I encountered a new kind of cookie at a cafe. I can't remember what it was called but the name was an acronym and the clerk told Lizh and I rather more than we wanted to know about how the cookie was developed in Australia for the army because of rationing or some such. It all seemed random at the time, but the cookie, packed with oats, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips was a winner. Shortly after that I encountered a baked goodie at Peet's called a "Mad Cookie" with those very same ingredients, so it's now one of my favorite treats, along with their ass-kicking spicy ginger cookie with big chunks of real ginger. Mmmmm.

Have you ever met anyone who said they "weren't into sweets" and wondered, "what the hell is wrong with you?" Human being are programmed to like sweet--this is why breast milk is so sweet, so babies want to eat and thrive. Therefore, people that don't like sweet things must be non-human.

Anyway, the Mad Cookie at Peet's is more than $2, admittedly huge but who needs such a big cookie and do I ever just eat half and save the rest for later? Reader, never. It was time to make my own.

I googled "mad cookie," and found nothing. Then I googled "australia cookie" and sure enough I found this recipe for the charmingly named ANZAC Biscuit, the official cookie of the Australian and and New Zealand Army Corps. This must be the thing, but where was the chocolate? And what in hell is golden syrup? How cute that they call it "dessicated" coconut instead of dried! Confusing metric measurements abounded--I would never be able to decipher this recipe, being the simple-minded American-educated gal that I am, so though I conceded that this must be the cookie the cafe guy was talking about, it was not the recipe I was going to make.

So I finally googled the ingredients and found a recipe for "Ranger Cookies." Since this had a decidedly military air to it, I figured this was the Americanized ANZAC and went for it.

I made some tweaks along the way. First, I substituted whole wheat flour for white flour. Normally I like to do half and half since sometimes a full whole wheat baked goodie tastes kind of bitter, the exact opposite of how a cookie should be, but this recipe had so little flour and so many other ingredients I figured it would work just fine AND would have the added benefit of being "whole grain" and therefore an important part of a healthy diet.

Sugar was reduced by filling up the 1/2 cup measure for each sugar a bit more than 3/4 of the way full (don't ask me what that comes out to be. If you're looking for math skills, you've come to the wrong blog), because I was using sweetened coconut. Also since most cookie recipes are so tooth-hurtingly sweet, cutting the sugar is usually a safe bet. Pecans replaced peanuts since that sounded better to me, and I used a bit more chocolate chips and coconut, cause that's how I roll.

I busted out the immersible blender to chop the oats so that some of them were finely cut and some whole. Important lesson learned tonight: do not use your immersible blender in a wide open container such as a mixing bowl as oats will hurl themselves into every corner of your kitchen. Instead use something narrower like a glass Pyrex measuring cup. It was my first use of my immersible blender and though it looks an awful lot like a vibrator, it worked like a charm, saving me from having to haul the blender out of the cupboard above the refrigerator, the most dreaded of all storage places.

Since whole wheat things seems to bake faster than white--I'm sure someone has written eloquently about this on the interwebs--I just learned the hard way, so I cut down the baking time. See how Professional Critic makes errors so you don't have to? You're welcome. That turned out to be 9 minutes--do not overbake and consider taking them out at 8:40. It really does make a difference.

The verdict? Delicious! I've eaten six two tonight and I'll probably eat the rest while watching The Riches freeze the rest, taking out one or two each day as a special treat. Enjoy!

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