October 9th, 2012 Laura
Due to the fact that whenever my family makes a certain crunchy, spicy, Dutch-derived cookie which my mother has referred to as “speculatas”, and which various websites have referred to as speculoos, speculaas, etc., and which have just as many variants in ingredients, and preparation (my mothers’ have secret ingredients that Martha Stewart’s recipe doesn’t, and vice versa), my mother makes them as refrigerator cookies, some make them as molded cookies, with elaborate carved wooden molds. Anyway, the basic recipe/idea has been around since medieval times, so it’s had plenty of time to diverge into different varieties and to acquire varied preparation methods and ingredients.
All of this was unknown to my family, until my sister did some internet searches a few years ago, and discovered the medieval antecedents of my mother’s recipe for the best-loved cookies we give away. So, a few years ago, we bought some tiny but still expensive wooden carved molds and some gold dust powder and made the medieval molded version. They went over reasonably well, and the edible gold color powder was a nice touch that we’ve since used for other things, but, my mother’s original variety were still the ones acquaintances raved about. So the most recent experiments have been made with a view to commercialize them: put them into mass production & package them for sale! In order to do this, we have to figure out a way to make them more uniform in size, texture, etc.
This past weekend, my mother made three test batches. Batch A was made the usual way she does it, with butter softened on the countertop. They came out flavorful and of medium texture, as they usually do. (They also have significant variations in size, shape, mixture). Batch B was made with the butter still chilled and hard. Batch B came out the most flavorful, but firmer, crisper, and less inclined to “spread” when baked than the usual (Batch A). Batch C was made with proportionally less butter and more flour. The finished cookies were firmer & more consistent in color and texture than Batch A or B, but also less flavorful.
My mother, sister and I “taste-tested” last night, and Batch B “won”.
Entry Filed under: baking
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