Thursday, March 18, 2010

52 Cookies - Chapter 11

Yesterday was one of those days when I really didn’t want to be inside baking cookies. As much as I love to bake cookies, I really would have rather been outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Last night, Evan told me it was time to buy some popsicles. I only buy them in the summer. When it’s hot. I don’t mean to be a killjoy. Popsicles are a part of childhood afterall.  They are also carpet stains just waiting to happen. I’ve got enough carpet stains already, thank you very much. Popsicles make me think of other frozen treats; like a root beer float, perhaps. I came across this week’s recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s blog that I have referenced before. She has a food blog called Tasty Kitchen which is linked to her personal blog. There, people can post recipes and review other people’s recipes as well. I did a random search in the dessert category and then further searched for cookies. They all looked and sounded the same…chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snicker doodles, peanut butter cookies, brownies that promise to be the “best ever.” You get the point. Then I came upon this one: Root Beer Float Cookies. “Okay, what’s the catch?” I’m thinking to myself. What’s the Holy Grail ingredient I won’t be able to find or I’ll find and buy and only use a teaspoon of. As it turned out, all I needed was some root beer and all the usual suspects for your basic cookie recipe. Sold! Incidentally, I did have to make a special trip to the grocery store to get the root beer. Everyone in my house gave up pop for Lent this year so I didn’t have any on-hand.

Root Beer Float Cookies
Here's what you'll need:
16 oz. of your favorite root beer
12 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup powdered sugar (for icing)

Here's what you do:
In a small saucepan, heat the root beer.  What you are going to do here is cook it down (or reduce it, to use proper cooking lingo) to a thick, syrupy consistency.  Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.  You want to end up with roughly 1/2 cup of the root beer "syrup."  It will take about 15-20 minutes for this magic to happen.
Melt 10 Tablespoons of butter in a medium sized saucepan.  Once the butter is melted, continue to "cook" the butter for about 3-5 minutes over medium heat.  You want to "brown" the butter.  But please, be extremely careful not to burn it.  There is a fine line between the sweet scent and flavor of browned butter and the opposite, which is very stinky and down right dangerous in your kitchen!  In otherwords, DO NOT leave the saucepan and keep the spoon moving, please!  Once you get it right where you want it, remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter.  Stir in the brown sugar, salt and 4 Tablespoons of your root beer concentrate.  Let it cool for 15-20 minutes.  Once it's cooled, move it to your mixing bowl and add the eggs.  Just be sure your brown sugar/butter mixture has cooled enough that it won't cook your eggs when you add them.  You'll have to start all over again if that happens.  At which point, you won't be in the mood to bake cookies anymore because you'll be so mad at yourself.  And who has time to start all over again anyway?!  So, it's cooled, the eggs are in there, now beat the eggs.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix just until combined.  Your dough will be soft.  If it seems too thin to you, add a little more flour.  Chill the dough in the fridge for about half an hour.  Go check your email, fold a load of laundry, look at a magazine.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Take out your handy dandy cookie dough scoop and plop the little globs down.  These cookies don't spread much, so you can fit quite a few on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  I settled on 9 minutes.  You be the judge based on how your oven runs.  Once the cookies are cooled, take the rest of your root beer syrup stuff and mix it with one cup of sifted powdered sugar.  Spread a small amount on each cookie.  This recipe made a little over 3 dozen smallish cookies.

I must confess.  I was disappointed in these cookies.  When I was mixing up the dough, the scent reminded me of what I smell when I make my Grandma Blue's butterscotch pie.  It's the brown sugar smell.  I wanted to smell more of a root beer smell.  I thought for sure it would come through once I ate one.  Not so much.  Then I thought for sure it would taste more like root beer with the icing on.  Still, not so much.  I just don't get it why someone would post a recipe on a blog for a cookie that doesn't taste anything at all like what it's supposed to taste.  Even my husband and kids thought the same.  I am wondering if root beer flavoring (similar to vanilla or almond extract) would yield more favorable (and flavorable!) results.  I'm interested to know if any of you have any thoughts or comments on this.  The cookies taste yummy; don't get me wrong.  I just think they taste more like a butterscotch flavor than root beer.  No worries.  All is not a loss, I needed cookies to take to church for the Soup for the Soul meal for the homeless this Friday.  I'm sure those folks won't be nearly as picky as I am.

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