Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"The Barnes and Noble Cookie Bake-Off" cookbook - Cherry Hideaway Cookies

Date I made these recipes December 4, 2016 – Holiday Party Food

The Barnes and Noble Cookie Bake-Off – Top 75 Recipes from Around the Country
Published by Sterling
ISBN: 978-1-4549-1745-8; © 2015
Purchased at Barnes and Noble!
Recipe:  Cherry Hideaway Cookies, submitted by contestant Catherine Davis, Marion, IL – p. 57. 

Please note, we also made two other cookies from this book – "Cranberry Lime Snow Cookies," submitted by contestant Zachary Whitworth, Roebuck, SC and "Michele's Rainbow Cookies" (a/k/a "Italian Rainbow Cookies"), submitted by contestant Michele Martise, Kirkwood, MO.  Both were great, and in fact, Michele's Rainbow Cookies were off the chart and are one of my (childhood and beyond) favorites. But alas folks, I decided to feature just the one in the interest of time and complexity.  The Rainbow Cookies are a bit time-consuming which is why it is not a featured recipe for this blog – at least not for today!

So let's begin! For those of you who read my latest blog about the party meatballs (posted 12/21/2016), you know that I went on a mini-rant about the lack of clear directions.  To me, the worst thing that can happen to a recipe is to leave one confused or stranded, mid-making by incomplete directions.

But that was then, this is now because brace yourself kids:  not one single recipe in this cookbook, not a single one of the 75 recipes listed here in this book, gives you the yield.

Can you imagine?  I mean what, are we supposed to just guess how much they make?  Apparently so.

I emailed the publisher since you can't exactly fire off an email to Barnes and Noble (or can you?) saying "What the hell," but really—What. The. Hell? How can you publish 75 recipes and not tell us how much they make?  It's insane! Sadly, I did not hear from them and that is a major "I'm going to have to ding them" moment.  A huge demerit.  A black eye for them, whoever "them" is.

Happily for you, these cookies were fantastic and the recipe gave a hint about how many they made (36) but no cook or baker should have to hold up the cookbook to a mirror to search for hidden or backwards messages.  No sir.

Now I shop at Barnes and Noble all the time, both online and in-store, and I have to tell you that I was rather surprised to see this cookbook because really, did anybody else know about this bake-off contest and forget to tell me?  Not that I have recipes to submit, but "mum" was definitely the word of the day.

So the cookbook starts with an introduction and then the judge's biographies follow (nine in all, and all of them heavy-hitters in the restaurant industry) and then bios and photos of the winner and the two runner ups, and then we hit the ground running with cookies by category (but with no yields).

The categories for your perusing pleasure are "Sugar & Spice;" "Sweet & Savory," and the all-encompassing "Chocolate."  Today's featured recipe, Cherry Hideaway Cookies are in the Sweet & Savory section (as are the "Cranberry Lime Snow Cookies") yet "Michelle's Rainbow Cookies" ended up in the Sugar & Spice category.  Huh.

Some of you may be wondering how my husband and I end up with the cookie selections we do year after year and I don't have a good answer but I can tell you what I avoid:  no peppermint, ever (I hate it); no sugar cookies, not because they don't taste good but they're kind of boring; absolutely nothing requiring intricate frosting endeavors (which are not in this book, but I'm just saying), and nothing requiring fancy equipment other than baking pans.  (That said, I searched high and low for Michele's Rainbow Cookies 9 x 9 baking sheets and could not find that exact size.  But I found a slightly larger baking sheets at Target that fit the bill (Threshold brand) and so bought three, one for each layer.  Still, my husband, who made them, had to make adjustments.  Sigh.)

What we do look for is something unique and that stands apart from the usual line-up.  This year's party guests were duly impressed by the Rainbow Cookies (as they should have been), but like I said, they were intricate and so I'm not going to reprint them here.

And the rest of the cookies we bake are just ones we think guests will like and that will compliment the ones we make every year such as "Betty Crocker's Almond Bon-Bon cookies."  (This recipe is on my blog but I can't recall what year I first published it.  Check out recipes posted for the month of December.)

Because my husband likes to bake and I enjoy the savory side of life, I tasked him with all these cookies plus a few homemade crackers to boot.  It didn't start out that way this year, but after I had to remake the bon-bon dough – twice – I just threw all the recipes at him and asked them to get them all done.  And as always, he is a master baker and deserved every accolade that came his way.

And so to our star recipe, Cherry Hideaway Cookies.  As you might suspect, a maraschino cherry is "hidden" in the dough.  Then the cookies are frosted on one side with a chocolate frosting and then topped with shredded coconut.  They looked awesome and our guests had fun eating them.   You should know that although regular, store-bought coconut will do, I purchased some desiccated coconut from Whole Foods to put on top and loved the look.  Desiccated coconut is dried to reduce the moisture count.  You can achieve the same effect by buying a coconut, splitting it open, shaving it and then letting it dry out.  But please—we were in party mode so as long as Whole Foods had it, there was no need for me to get all Martha Stewart here.  Sorry, Martha. (Martha probably owns her own coconut grove somewhere in the world.  Just sayin...)

Cherry Hideaway Cookies – yield not listed but the ingredients give us a hint:  you'll need 36 maraschino cherries!
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
36 large maraschino cherries
8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350F.

With an electric mixer or a stand mixer, cream the shortening, sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Mix until combined.  Drain the cherries on a paper towel and pat dry.

Wrap about 1 tablespoon of dough around each cherry and place an inch apart on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-13 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.

Cool for 15 minutes.  Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.  Dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate and sprinkle with coconut.


Donna said...

I was on the hunt for some new cookie recipes to supplement our tried and true favorites. I tried this recipe and we did not like this cookie at all. Admittedly my shortening was old - I wonder if it was bad. I stored the cookies in a tin overnight, thinking I'd give them another try on Day 2. When I opened the tin, it smelled like crayons in there! The cookies tasted no better than Day 1, so they went in the trash. I wouldn't try them again, even with fresh shortening. The cookie part was bland. The best part was the cherry. Now, I'll be on the hunt for another cookie recipe that uses cherries.

Ann said...

Donna, Thanks for giving the cookies a whirl. I've had trouble sometimes baking with "older" ingredients and so yes, the shortening may have been the problem. These worked out fine for us but sorry they didn't work out for you.