Friday, December 16, 2011

Ho, Ho, Oh Dear...

Bah Humbug!  Okay that is a little strong, but, I have suffered yet another disappointment in the kitchen.  I was really looking forward to producing an array of slimmed down holiday baked goods to share with all of you and my friends and family.  Unfortunately I am striking out left and right.

Yesterday I went in search of a sugar cookie recipe that I could tweak a little to reduce the fat and calories.  I found one geared toward diabetics that had a huge list of ingredients including brown sugar and corn syrup, far too fussy for my mood.  Then, I came across Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies on and felt sure that his straight forward and moderately scientific approach would yield just the cookie I was in the mood for.  It seemed a little heavy on the flour and oddly did not include vanilla, or any other flavoring, but I went ahead and followed the recipe.

I, as always, changed a few things.  The cup of sugar became a half cup of sugar and a half cup of sugar blend (xylitol, maltodextrin, and sucralose), I substituted Smart Balance for the unsalted butter, and I added vanilla bean seeds.

The cookie dough came together easily, despite my less than efficient hand mixer.  I thought it tasted very plain and not particularly sugary but I wrapped to chill for a couple of hours.  Alton instructs bakers to roll the dough out using powdered sugar to prevent sticking.  I generally use flour but since the dough was not particularly sweet I tried it, sparingly.

The dough cracked and crumbled while I was trying to work it and then stuck to my rolling pin as I attempted to get it to a consistent 1/4 thickness.  It cut and transfered to the cookie sheets decently and baked quickly without losing to much of the shape.

The resulting cookies were cute but tasted more like a dry shortbread than the slightly sweetened cookies I imagined.  I did have fun squirting on the icing from little store bought tubes.  The icing sweetened them up enough to be okay but not great.

I think it is time for me to hang up my baker's hat for awhile and get back to cooking.  Reinventing baked goods seems more scientific than I can manage at the moment.  The realization brings me back to high school chemistry.  I had a terrible time with the math and without my lab partner I am pretty sure I wouldn't have passed the class.  Not surprising, Venessa, my former lab partner is now a stellar pastry chef and here I am, still trying to figure it all out!


  1. Alright, you have to get down here next week with all your newfangled ingredients and we will make you a lower sugar, lighter recipe that you can be proud of, be it meringues (which I want to get right too, and I have a new recipe to try) or sugar cookies. We'll use my tools and your ingredients, and we'll get it right, or I'll have to hang up my hat too!