BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Batter Up

Dumping, stirring, scooping; it was a hard job. Such were the demands of a fledgling baker, still too young to read the recipe and too small to reach the kitchen counter without the assistance of a stepping stool. Measuring ingredients was a task just slightly more advanced than my skill level, but diligently, carefully, I took pre-portioned scoops of flour and sugar, adding them to the mixing bowl with earnest precision. At the age of five, it was impossible to understand the alchemy that would transform these raw, unappealing components into my favorite treat. The magic started well before the batter ever hit sheet trays, though. Even better than the finished chocolate chip cookies themselves would be the reward for all my painstaking efforts: a lick from the beater or bowl, still coated in unbaked dough.

Golden and slightly granular from the coarse brown sugar, those morsels were the ones I savored most. Though each piece of the appliance was thoroughly scraped before being surrendered for my inspection, more than enough remained to sate my sweet tooth. Looking back, those errant chunks and chips left behind within the tightly coiled metal whisk may not have been so accidental, after all.

A love for cookie dough was fostered at a very young age, from some of my very earliest memories of cooking with my mom. It seems to be a common thread across almost all demographics, even for those who learned to bake later in life, that raw cookie dough evokes a certain nostalgia. Unpretentious, undemanding, its inherent simplicity is all part of the appeal. Especially when the heat of the oven loses its appeal through the steamy summer months, it’s difficult to resist the urge to skip baking when you could just as easily dive in with a spoon.

If you can delay gratification just a little bit longer though, I have an even cooler way to appease those childhood memories. Cookie dough pudding pops, with all the familiar flavors in a creamy, frozen package, may become the new nostalgic sweet treat.

Toasting the flour brings out the subtle nutty, roasted flavors imparted by baking, without the same intense heat. The base is otherwise prepared the same as any other cooked custard, so if you can stir a pot, you can whip up this buttery brown sugar pudding in no time. In fact, you may be tempted to eat the plain pudding prior to its trip to the freezer, and I wouldn’t blame you. Just try to leave a little bit for the popsicles themselves; you’ll be grateful to have them on hand (and in hand) the next time a craving strikes.

Cookie Dough Pudding Pops

1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1 Tablespoon Vegan Butter, Melted
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips

Begin by lightly toasting the flour in a dry skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and continuously, gently stir the flour, until faintly golden brown all over. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the non-dairy milk to form a thick paste, beating out any lumps before proceeding. Continue to add in the remaining non-dairy milk and whisk vigorously to smooth out the mixture. Incorporate the sugar, vegan butter, and salt, stirring well. Cook, stirring periodically, until bubbles break regularly on the surface and the liquid has thickened significantly.

Turn off the heat, cool to room temperature, and then let rest in the fridge until thoroughly chilled. Stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips before transferring the mixture to popsicle molds. Place in the freezer and let rest until frozen; at least 3 hours.

Yield will vary depending on the size of your molds.

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Wild, Wild Digest

Naming recipes is an art, not a science, which leads many a cook to take quite a few liberties when bestowing titles upon their finished culinary creations. Recklessly creative, these innovators often leave future generations scratching their heads, wondering how such a description might fit the dish, or what the story behind it might be. One of the greatest mysteries to date is likely the truth behind chess pie, but that’s an investigation for another day. Today, I’ve got cookies on my mind; cowboy cookies to be exact.

Let’s be honest here- A cowboy cookie is really an oatmeal cookie, jam-packed with sweet and crunchy goodies. Brown sugar gives the dough depth, flavoring the entire treat with a hint of bold molasses beneath all the flashy additions. Chocolate chips and nuts, often in the form of pecans or peanuts, are absolutely mandatory, but like all vintage recipes, there’s a good amount of dispute about the rest. Some are heavy-handed on the spice, while others abstain completely. Coconut shows up in most ingredient lists, but not all, so there’s a good bit of argument about that tropical intrusion, too. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that a proper cowboy cookie is an oat-based morsel that’s composed of more goodies than actual dough.

That comparatively insignificant amount of dough got me thinking about- What else?- Ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream, one of the great staples of any childhood food pyramid, this is a treat that is almost universally enjoyed, but rarely varied between producers. Even the classics could use a little updating from time to time, which is where that wild combination of oats and nuts comes into play. Accentuating the idea of coconut by placing the nuggets of tender dough in a creamy coconut milk base, it leaves the cookie pieces themselves free to hold on to even more toasted pecans. Likewise, extracting the chocolate chip portion and swirling it through the entire pint stracciatella-style gives you thin ribbons of crisp cacao in every bite.

Consider yourself warned: This ice cream is seriously loaded. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising to learn that it’s composed of equal parts ice cream and cookie bites, without counting the added chocolate chunks.

When all is said and done, finding yourself with a heaping cone-ful of this ice cream, concerns about the incongruous name will simply melt away. These questions matter less when you can instead call it “delicious,” and leave it at that.

Cowboy Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Cookie Dough:

3 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/3 Cup Coconut Flour
1/4 Cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, Toasted*
1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans
2 Tablespoons Coconut Milk

Stracciatella:

3 Ounces (1/2 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Melted

Base:

1 Batch French Vanilla Ice Cream from Vegan a la Mode (page 50), prepared with coconut milk for the non-dairy milk and oil instead of margarine; cooked, cooled, and unchurned

*To toast the oats, place them in a small skillet over medium heat, and shake them around over the flame for 5 – 10 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Remove the nutty-scented oats from the pan and let cool completely before using.

To make the cookie dough, place the margarine in the bowl of your stand mixer, and beat briefly with the paddle attachment to soften. Add in the brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon, and cream everything together. Once the mixture is completely smooth and homogeneous, introduce the coconut flour, oats, and pecans next. Start to mix them in slowly, and drizzle in the coconut milk while the motor runs. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until everything comes together into a cohesive dough. It will be fairly stiff, so allow enough time for it to absorb all of the liquid- Don’t be tempted to add more.

Scoop out pieces the size of marbles, and roll them into balls. Place the dough balls on a small sheet pan, and stash them in the freezer for at least 2 hours before churning your ice cream. This will ensure that they’re firm enough to withstand the mixing process without becoming smushed.

Churn the completed ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is about 5 minutes away from finishing in the machine, melt the chocolate chips, and slowly drizzle the liquid chocolate in a thin stream directly into the ice cream machine. It will freeze instantly on the surface of the ice cream, and the turning paddle will break it up into nice little chips.

Transfer the ice cream into an air-tight container, tossing in a patchy layer of frozen cookie dough chunks in between each addition as you scoop the soft ice cream in. Store in the freezer, and let solidify for at least 3 hours before serving.

Makes About 1 Quart

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