Around the world on a plate – Cookies

“C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me.” ~Cookie monster~

Cultural cookies

Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Just about every culture has some version of them.

  • ANZAC biscuits, Australia and New Zealand
  • gingerbread, Germany
  • chocolate chip cookies, USA
  • pfeffernuse, Germany with Denmark and the Netherlands also laying claim
  • nanaimo bars, Canada
  • shortbread, Scotland
  • biscotti, Italy
  • macaron, France

This is but a small sampling of cookies found around the world. According to a Google search, the origin of the cookie is credited to 7th century Persia, “….one of the first countries to cultivate sugar…”

http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CookieHistory.htm

Some cookie baking tips:

  • To prevent the dreaded ‘cookie spread’, reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. Too much of the sweet stuff can cause cookies to ooze into a puddle rather than bake into the shape of a traditional drop or cutout cookie.
  • Only bake cookies for the prescribed baking time. Recipes usually give a range for how long the cookies should be baked. Any longer and the cookies will be over baked and overdone.
  • For a chewy texture bake cookies the minimum baking time required. For a crisp cookie, leave them in the oven for the maximum baking time.
  • It seems silly, but when cookies smell like they are done, they are done.

What’s your favourite cookie?

 

 

Quick Kitchen Fix

They were already in the oven and well on their way to being fully baked when I realized something.

I forgot to add sugar to the muffin batter!

Though I try to cut down on the amount of sugar I add to recipes, I still like a little sweetness. Muffins without any sugar is unthinkable! I waited until they came out of the oven and I Macgyvered a solution from knowledge of and experience with basbousa and baklava.

Both these sweet treats get baptized in a flood of sugar syrup after they come out of the oven. The warmth of being freshly baked allows the syrup to soak in and further sweeten these Mediterranean sweets.

Once my muffins came out of the oven, I poked them with a skewer and poured sugar syrup on top so that it would soak through the pinholes. Solution successful! Once cooled, I tasted them, and save for a bit of stickiness, they were delightful.

A sugar syrup can be made by boiling equal parts water and sugar until the mixture becomes homogenous. The mixture then simmers until ready to use. Use a ratio of 3:1 or 2:1 water to liquid sweetener for a satisfyingly sweet yet reduced-sugar syrup.

Sugar-free Saturday & Sunday!

Just kidding.
In spite of taking the sugar-free challenge and being constantly reminded of the evils of sugar, I still retain my sweet tooth. My experiences have led me to take “the middle way” (though I do believe the Buddha wasn’t referring to sugar when he conceived this concept). Rather it refers to moderation, neither partaking in extreme indulgence or deprivation.

I like to consider my blog to be a sort of  ‘good food blog’, one that explores food that tastes good and is good for you (the nurture/nourish part of my tagline) but there is room for some indulgence (at least in my world there is).
The key to indulgence is to do it sensibly so you can literally have your cake and eat it too. Here are a few guidelines I like to follow:

  • Opt for lesser amounts of unrefined sweetener in your baked goods. The recipe still works without the excessive amount of sugar called for in many recipes and the rich flavour of natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and muscovado sugar tend to be more satisfying so you are not left wanting more.
  • Use puréed fruit such as overripe bananas and naturally sweet mango in your cake recipes in place of some of the sugar. The added bonus is more moisture making for a lusciously lighter texture.
  • Use whole grain flour and ground flaxseed in your recipes to add some fiber. This helps with a feeling of fullness so you don’t overindulge and also helps to mitigate the blood sugar spike that comes with eating anything high on the glycemic index.
  • And if you must indulge in something decadent, opt for a small portion of the real thing rather than a low-fat, artificially sweetened facsimile. You may feel you’re ‘cheating’ by eating it but your brain will feel cheated without it.
    Article: Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Fool Your Brain

I generally reserve my indulgences for the weekend but don’t feel obligated to have them constantly. A treat is partly that because it is occasional so with that spirit in mind, expect to see sporadic posts on sugar-full Saturdays and Sundays.

Related posts on Weal Food,
Are You Up for the Challenge?
The Gauntlet Was an Oven Mitt