Wednesday, March 14, 2012

266. Misadventures in Baking

Project: Lemon-Lime Polenta Sandwich Cookies
Recipe, courtesy of Sauce Magazine

The recipe for these cookies appeared in the first issue of Sauce Magazine that I ever encountered, the first month after I moved back to Saint Louis. They've literally been waiting around in the back of my mind for a year and a half, and I felt it was finally time.

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup polenta
Pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 large egg
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup marscarpone cheese
1 Tbsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Preliminary ingredient line-up...
This is usually my favorite stage of baking. It's too early to have made any real mistakes. The recipe still holds such promise. No one is crying, nothing is burnt, and the fire department remains blissfully unaware of your existence.

Lemon zesting! This is the first organic lemon I have ever purchased. The skin was crisp and juicy, and it smelled just like the lemons from all your fantasies about lemons.

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Whisk together the flour, polenta and salt until completely combined; set aside.
• Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.
• Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky.
• Transfer the batter to a cookie press or a pastry bag with a large star tip. Pipe 2- to 3-inch S-shapes onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spaced at least ½ inch apart.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
• In a metal bowl, whisk the marscarpone cheese, lime zest and powdered sugar until blended.
• Spread the filling over 12 of the cookies and top with the remaining 12 cookies.

* To make orange-polenta sandwich cookies with chocolate marscarpone filling, substitute orange zest and orange juice for the lemon in the cookies, and substitute 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder plus 1 Tbsp. half and half for the lime zest in the filling.

Hello honey bear. Why do you look so horrified?

That's why...
As I stood in the baking aisle at Target (yes, Target again), I thought to myself...that thing won't work. It's too complicated. No one uses those. But the idiot voice inside me said,
"Wull, why'd they make it then, huh?"

And do you know who won that argument?
That's right.
The idiot.

Perhaps the idiot here is logic. This is a reusable, dishwasher safe gun, with an assortment of tips, which costs the same as a pastry bag set containing 4 "reusable" plastic bags, which you can wash "multiple times". It cost $1 less than that, actually. One would reason to believe that this item will serve the purpose it proclaims, be easy to clean up, and cater to my eco-friendly conscience.

All of these things might have been true, had I the arm strength of a gorilla on PCP.
I do not.
I never thought home baking could be considered manual labor. At least, not since the latter half of the 20th century...

My only hope is that gently used items will be acceptable for return, based on the credentials provided to me by my receipt.

The final product, thanks to the gun, is nothing like the picture from the original recipe. I'm ok with this, however, as I hadn't intended to serve them to the ladies at my bridge club, or anyone else.

My batch yielded 8 completed sandwiches. They have a slight buttered cornbread flavor, thanks to the polenta, but with a nice hint of lemon as well.  I think the filling could stand to have a lot more zing, and a lot less sugar...In fact, I'm kind of on the fence about the whole marscapone situation in general, and would probably experiment with alternates. I do recommend refrigerating them after putting them together to let the frosting middles solidify, oreo-style. If you don't, the frosting squishes out the sides and gets all over your best shirt.

Would I make these cookies again? Possibly, but only with the appropriate equipment, and maybe more lemon zest.


Joshua De La Noco said...

Way to go! By the way, we both had to go kitchen-tool shopping to manage to pull off our jobs. Those tools are so intimidating and weird. You know that 1/3 are complete, superfluous crap, but 2/3 are vital to the process and if you're like me, there's no way to distinguish the like. Every time I go to the kitchenware section I either leave the whole place with nothing, because I'm confuddled with choices, or I leave with one important item and 5 pieces of nonsense, because I'm confuddled with choices. I just made up a great word and used it twice for effect.

Super Milk-Chan said...

I've notified Webster. Confuddled has been deemed wordly and will be available in the 2013 edition.