"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cinnamon Chocolate Cigarettes

Before I launch into Cinnamon Chocolate Cigarettes, I have to show you a picture of my kitchen windowsill.

Isn't that pretty? I've been spending a lot of time cooking for private clients out of my own kitchen lately, and it's so lovely, listening to Paris Combo or Pearl Django, and looking at these beautiful flowers. Good for the soul.

Anyway, this recipe has beckoned to me since Day One, but alas, my counterpart at work was equally enamoured and made these cookies week after week after week. So it's taken me two and a half years to finally get around to it, and one of the challenges I had set for myself was to see if I could make them better because whenever Miranda made them they seemed strangely (and offputtingly) spongy.

It's possible I have a gustatory memory of some boxed cookies of the same general parameters from my teen years in Belgium (very possible) and these just weren't living up to what I thought should be their crispiness.

Beginner bakers take note: this is probably not the recipe for you. Not to be discouraging, but it requires the type of heat-desensitivity on the fingertips that comes from years of handling hot stuff, since you have to get these suckers up off the sil-pat and roll them while they are essentially still 350 degrees.

Not daunted? OK, let's go.

The batter, which is made of egg whites, confectioner's sugar, flour, melted butter, salt and cinnamon is very, very loose.

You only want to do a few at a time, since you have to roll them while they're hot. I found four per pan about right.

The ones on the right have been spread out with a spoon, which you do to get the cookies as thin as possible.

After they bake (and it takes a few batches to find the perfect balance between done and too done, you roll them up. They harden unbelievably quickly.

This was where I ran into trouble. Easy to roll = spongy. Crispy = impossible to roll. What to do?

My solution: I rolled them and put them back into the oven to bake until I deemed them sufficiently crispy. As you might be guessing, after all of this testing of crispiness, I didn't exactly have an overflowing batch of cookies. But I had enough to make a pretty good showing. Here are some just after the chocolate dipping stage:

I'm happy with my final technique, so I hope you'll benefit (Adam, I'm looking at you) from my experimentation. It took maybe another 10 minutes back in the oven in their rolled state. My only other thought is that, to my taste, not enough cinnamon! I love cinnamon and chocolate, and the 1/4 teaspoon here could have been bumped way up. Next time.

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