Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bizcoff: Cookie Clone Saves Airfare

Homely. Yummy.

In November 2010, Salon's Francis Lam wrote a glorious essay praising the Biscoff© that Delta serves to grateful passengers. If you look forward Delta flights just for the cookie, save your airfare and head to the kitchen.  

The lovely people at matzo&rice posted a recipe for a clone of this admirable cookie. “Rice” worked it all out, rolled the dough, cut extraordinary shapes, and took terrific pictures.

Not for me. I fulfilled my obligation to roll-and-cut in 1982 after my last Gingerbread Person Marathon. Since then, I have been resolutely in the slice-and-bake camp. For my Bizcoff, I added lime zest, changed the directions for mixing the butter and sugar, added directions for slice-and-bake, and increased the baking time because I like them crisp.

These are way too close together.

These cookies are crazy-easy. They use things in your pantry, the rolls keep in the fridge for a week, and in the freezer for a month. This recipe can be doubled or tripled. You may be heavy-handed with the spices. Obsess, if you will, to  make them identical, or you may have oddly shaped rolls. 

From "I want a cookie" to "Let's eat" is 17 minutes from frozen,

Ginger Bizcoff, a clone of a Biscoff© cookie adapted from matzo&rice.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp lime zest
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp.  vanilla extract
½ cup small pieces of candied ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and lime zest), baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer (a stand-mixer if you have one), cream together butter and sugars at medium high speed for five minutes.  Yes. Five minutes. Add the vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is well combined. It will be thick. 
    a.    Roll out dough to ¼ inch-thick. Use cookie cutters or your imagination to make shapes.
    b.    Place cookies onto parchment paper, and press a piece of candied ginger into the center of each. Bake for 13-17 minutes or until the outer edges begin to brown. If you don't separate them (at least 1/2 inch all around), they will run together.  If that happens, cut them apart as soon as you remove them from the oven.
     a.     Roll the dough into logs on waxed paper or parchment. The larger to the log, the larger the cookie.  Refrigerate for at least an hour. Double wrap in paper and plastic, and freeze for up to a month. 
     b.     When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
     c.     From the fridge or freezer: With a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch slices. Place on parchment or silicone mat with 3/4 inches between cookies.
    d.     Press a piece of candied ginger into the center of each cookie.
    e.     For very crisp cookies, bake for 15 minutes from the refrigerator, 17 minutes from frozen, or until the outer edges are slightly brown.
    f.      Cool on cooling rack before serving. Unlike Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are great as "warm" cookies, Bizcoff are much better after they have cooled completely.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Goldilock's Spicy Cheddar Shortbread: at last

Goldilock's Spicy Cheddar Shortbread
Cheddar Shortbread is the lazy cook's substitute for Cheese Straws. They are a snap to make if you think of them as slice-and-bake cookies, and the rolls  can live well-wrapped, unsliced, and unbaked in your freezer for up to a month. 

My first two batches were Thanksgiving appetizers, and the third time was the charm. The first were too bland; the second were too spicy. This third version for Goldilocks, is just right for me.  Feel free to adjust the cheeses, cayenne, sugar, and mustard to your taste.

Shortbread Alerts:
Too Bland & Too Spicy
  • The Cheese matters for flavor. Cheese is the front flavor, so pick what you like.  Weighing out leftover  cheese chunks on your kitchen scale will make you feel like an Alchemist.
  • The Cheese matters for color.  If you want pale shortbread, use white cheddar and fresh ground white pepper.
  • Room temperature butter matters. Cold butter can be beaten into submission by your stand mixer, but the result will be a crumbly mess that will require a lot of handwork to create the "cookie" rolls.
  • Salt matters. Do not imagine that the saltiness of your cheese will be enough salt to support the flour.
  • Sugar matters.  A small addition of sugar brings these to life.  Inexplicably, sugar is omitted from most published recipes.
  • Silpat or other silicone mats should be your gift to you.  In addition to saving the planet (no foil or parchment), these mats clean up in a minute.
Shortbread on a roll

6 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (fine grind)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
8 ounces finely grated cheese
2 cups flour

  1. Baking right now?  Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. With an electric mixer: beat the butter, mustard, sugar, salt, ground pepper and cayenne until smooth. 
  3. Add the cheese and flour and beat until well mixed.  You may have dry bits, which you will have to pull together by hand to shape the dough into logs.  Wrap tightly in parchment or waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for up to 1 month.
  4. Cut the logs into 1/4" slices, and place on a silicone mat.  They can be close together, but not touching.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and begin checking for slightly darkened edges every five minutes after that.  Baking time will depend on: 
    • Whether your dough was refrigerated or frozen; 
    • Whether you use a thick and sturdy or light and flimsy sheet pan; or   
    • How true your oven temperature is on baking day.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the shortbread sit on the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Store airtight. Unless you live by yourself and have Mighty Willpower, these will have a very short life. People will sneak back to the buffet table and attempt to stuff them into their pockets. Make sure that there are adequate napkins to protect their pockets from shortbread crumbs.