Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Cookies

Betty says that these Shamrock Cookies are “a grand St. Patrick’s Day surprise for the whole family. Faith and begorra, they’re good!” Will they be the tasty treat she promises? Read on to find out!

Shamrock Cookies
1 cup shortening (half butter or margarine)
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
1 to 2 tsp peppermint flavoring
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp green food coloring

Preheat the oven to 375̊F. Mix the shortening, butter, sugar, egg and peppermint flavoring. Stir in the flour, salt, and food coloring. To shape shamrocks, roll three small (1/4 tsp) balls of dough and a small stem. Flatten them together and shape into a shamrock shape.  Sprinkle with green sprinkles. Note: complete cookies one at a time or the tiny balls of dough may dry out and crack when you try to shape them. Bake about 9 minutes. Makes about 9 dozen cookies.

Good Luck Cookies
Make Shamrock Cookies as above, but make 4 small balls for each cookie to shape into a four-leaf clover.

Really, the first thing I had to do was look up the word “begorra.” In case you were wondering:

begorra- an interjection, used as a euphemism for ‘by God’

Okay! On to the cookies.

My first hang-up came as I was mixing up the ingredients and got to adding the mint flavoring. The flavoring itself smelled good (although strong), but once it was incorporated into the dough, the smell was kind of sickening… just a weird sort of minty bad smell.

Then, I got to the part when the dry ingredients are added. The only dry things are flour and salt, but it still seemed wrong to me to not to mix them together before adding them. Still, I decided to follow the directions and mixed in all of the flour followed by the salt, which I mixed for a long time to be sure that everything was evenly distributed.

Next, the food coloring. I first removed a small portion of the dough so that some cookies would be artificial coloring-free for Ryan. I think I used about half of my little squeezy bottle of green dying the rest of the dough!

The forming of the cookies was extremely time-consuming. Please see the following photo progression for that process.
A 1/4 teaspoon scoop for each ball.
3 balls + 1 stem= 1 shamrock! I also made a couple of four leaf clovers.
The pieces come together...
... and get squished!
A little poke in the side to get the right shape.
A little more flattening, and the shamrock is complete!
 Now imagine doing that for 9 dozen tiny cookies. Yikes!

When the first pan came out of the oven after baking for nine minutes, I found the cookies to be too dry. Also, my first one was super SALTY! YUCK! I knew I should have followed my gut and mixed the salt into the flour before adding it. Darn.
Sugary luck, fresh from the oven.
Pan Two was only baked for 8 minutes. The cookies still seemed a little dry, but they are just the type of cookie that is supposed to be more dry and crumbly than chewy, so I guess that’s okay.  The flavor was just weird, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it. All I knew was that, even after a non-salty cookie, the aftertaste was not good.

At this point, I was upset about the gross-ness of the cookies and the fact that it was taking so long to form all of those little shamrocks, and- I threw the rest of the dough away.  A big ball of funny-smelling green, tossed in the trash. Good riddance!

I still gave these to a few people to try (they are pretty cute, after all), with a disclaimer that they were not good. According to some, they were “not the worst cookies” or even “good.” But most people agreed that they were kind of bitter with a weird after taste. They were even described as “like eating toothpaste”!
At least they look good...
If this is any indication, the only thing they ARE good for, apparently, is fodder for ravenous, rapidly-multiplying populations of Tribbles. 

So, if you want something good for St. Patrick’s Day, don’t make these. The recipe should say, “Faith and begorra, they’re gross!”

Pineapple cookies are up next! I know Amy is excited. :)
This cookie recipe was found on page 29 of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. The cute, fuzzy Tribbles are from Jen. :D

Brown Sugar Drops

I made these cookies a couple of weeks ago during Nerd Night… found out that Nerds love fresh-baked cookies so much, they will eat them straight off of the pan! These were nice and chewy, and- as Betty points out- very versatile. Add whatever you want to the dough, and the sweet scent of brown sugar will pull all your friends into the kitchen. 

Brown Sugar Drops
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
½ cup buttermilk or water
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

Mix together the shortening, brown sugar, and eggs. Blend dry ingredients together and then stir into the sugar mixture. Chill dough for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 400̊F. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for eight to ten minutes, or until almost no imprint remains after touching lightly. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Jeweled Cookies
Mix 3 to 4 cups of cut-up gumdrops into the dough. (You can cut up gumdrops using kitchen shears. Just dip the blades in hot water if they get sticky.)

Coconut Drop Cookies
Mix 1 cup of shredded or flaked coconut into the dough.

Nut Drop Cookies
Mix 1 cup of chopped nuts into the dough.

Carly’s Variation (not from the Cooky Book)
Mix 1 ½ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the dough. (I recommend mini chocolate chips rather than full-sized.)

The first thing I did was chop up the gumdrops. This was accomplished using my Pampered Chef Salad Chopper (scary double-bladed scissors) which helped to speed things along as I could cut two gumdrops at once. I chopped them into eighths and called that good enough.
Salad chopper- turned- gumdrop chopper!
Then I measured out the rest of my mix-ins so they would be ready to go when the dough was mixed up.  I decided not to make the Nut Drop cookies because the cookies I have made with nuts seem to be the least popular. (After mentioning this to several people, they all claimed they like cookies with nuts. Go figure.)

I mixed up the dough, divided it into quarters, stirred in the mix-ins, and popped the dough into the fridge for an hour. Each type of dough was just the right amount for one pan of cookies (about 20 cookies of each). I baked them all for 8 minutes, but since they turned out so thin, I didn’t try the touch test.

So how did they turn out? All of them were delightfully soft and chewy. I liked that no icing was required, so they could be enjoyed while still warm from the oven!
Clockwise from top: Jeweled Cookies, Coconut Drops, Chocolate Chip Drops, and Brown Sugar Drops.
I found the plain ones kind of bland, which seems weird considering there were two cups of sugar in the recipe! 
Brown Sugar Drops!
  The coconut ones were sweet, but not overly sweet.
Coconut Drops!
The gumdrop ones ("Jeweled Cookies") were just bizarre- as one person pointed out, it was weird to have a sudden taste of peppermint amongst the brown sugar. I also found the texture to be strange- the cookies were soft while the gumdrops were gummy (big surprise!) and stuck to my teeth. However, I don’t like gumdrops even when they aren’t in cookies, so I had pretty low expectations for those.
Jeweled Cookies!
The very best of the bunch, in my opinion, were the chocolate chip variety. I thought they were very reminiscent of Chewy Chips Ahoy, which I feel an inexplicable craving for every now and then. The only problem with them, that I found, was that the chocolate chips were kind of big for the size of the cookies and weren’t very evenly dispersed- perhaps this could be remedied by using mini chocolate chips.   
Chocolate Chip Drops- homemade version of Chewy Chips Ahoy!
So there you have it! Give them a try, and if you ever make the Nut Drop cookies, let me know how they turn out.

Festive St. Patrick’s Day cookies coming up next!

This cookie recipe was found on page 8 of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book; the chocolate chip addition was my idea!