When spring rolls around, I always look forward to receiving my pre-ordered Samoas Girl Scout cookies. However, this year I missed the Girl Scout Troops selling the boxed cookies outside local groceries due to the crazy weather. When my craving for coconut and caramel cookies took over, I decided to recreate all of my family’s favorites – Samoas, Thin Mints, and Tagalongs.
Knowing it would be impossible to remake Girl Scout cookies, I decided to take a different angle. Hoping to capture the cookie’s essence with minimum fuss, I planned to change up both shape and texture. A cake pop is sufficiently different, and yet its firm shape can be coated with any desired flavor. Cake pops are rolled cake crumbs with a lollipop stick or skewer inserted through them. Baking one cake makes many cake pops. I thought that a pound cake would be a better option than shortbread, with fewer calories and a neutral flavor that showcases the variety of glazes. My attempts with store-bought boxed cake mix was satisfying – an instant fix to a craving!
Boxed Pound Cake Pops
- Make the cake according to the instructions on the box.
- When the cake is completely cooled, crumble the cake finely with your fingers.
- Compact the crumbs into firm balls. (To avoid adding calories, I skipped adding icing or cream cheese to the crumbs, usually done to better hold the shape.)
- Freeze the cake crumb balls for 1½ -2 hours.
For The Flavoring:
Caramel, Shredded Coconut, and Dark Chocolate Chips, Mint M&M, And Peanut Butter Chips
- While the cake is baking, use separate shallow containers to melt your chosen toppings. I used: caramel, dark chocolate chips, mint M&M, and peanut butter chips.
- Add cream or milk to the melting chips in order to get a runny consistency.
- Add shredded coconut to melted caramel.
When I was young, my cousins and I would help ourselves to milk powder that was stored in the pantry for our baby cousin S. Milk powder had a fresh breadcrumb texture that dissolved to a creamy, slightly sweet, doughy taste at the back of your mouth, and made it a peculiarly addictive snack. Despite the many lectures, since milk powder was prohibitively expensive in those days, we couldn’t stop ourselves! Recently, I came across a great cookie recipe that uses milk powder to add both chewiness and that silky rich taste of the milk solids.
Christina Tosi, baker at Momofuku Milk Bar compares the taste of milk powder to MSG – it makes everything taste better without adding a detectable taste of its own in the final product. Milk powder didn’t taste as good as it did in my memory, but when added to a mixture of flour, white chocolate chips, and dried red chilies, the resulting chocolate chip cookie is both grown up and strangely comforting.
White-Hot Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Christina Tosi’s milk chocolate chip recipe
Unsalted Butter – 2 sticks (225g), melted
Egg – 1
Flour – 1½ cup
Milk powder – 3 tbsp
Light brown sugar – 1 cup
Salt – 1 tsp
Baking soda – ¼ tsp
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Dried red chili – 4, deseeded and skins cut into tiny slivers
White chocolate chips – 6 oz
- Heat the oven to 375°F.
- Sift the flour and add to it the milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.
- Add the egg and continue to blend into the mixture.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture, and mix until everything is well combined.
- Add the chili and chocolate chips. Mix.
- On a parchment-lined cookie pan, add two tablespoons of the cookie dough at a time, leaving sufficient space between them.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges turn brown.
- Makes about 20 wafer-thin cookies.
I grew up using three starch thickeners that I haven’t worked with in a while. Arrowroot was used primarily in coconut pudding, cookies, and healthy porridge. Cornstarch bulked up Indian-Chinese dishes, and tapioca helped to set both sweet and savory food. As I tried to perfect roux with white flour and butter last week, I decided to revisit the three starches of my childhood.
Tapioca, arrowroot, and cornstarch have distinct properties. All three starches are neutral in taste and have a lighter, more powdery texture than flour. They can replace flour to thicken a stew or gravy and glaze a fruit pie. Tapioca and arrowroot are being rediscovered because of their gluten-free properties and are now commonly available; choosing between them depends on the type of ingredients needed for a dish. If the ingredients are acidic, then tapioca and arrowroot starch are preferable. If the dish is dairy-based, use cornstarch. Unlike flour that makes sauce opaque, tapioca, arrowroot, and cornstarch offer glazes that range from clear to glossy. Depending on whether a chocolate pudding benefits from shimmering glaze (use arrowroot), a fruit pie from a clear glaze (use tapioca starch), or creamy soup from a translucent glaze (use cornstarch), these starches offer a variety of ways to present the final dish.
What all three starches do have in common is that none of them can be added directly to a hot stock or liquid. They should first be mixed with equal parts water to form a watery mixture called slurry. The slurry is then added to the simmering stock and whisked continuously so that the starch gelatinizes and thickens. The slurry prevents the starch from clumping together. As with all starch thickeners, the key to achieving a smooth rich stock is to continuously whisk the starch so that the mix does not taste floury, until you reach the right consistency. Be mindful of overcooking.
||From a ginger-like rhizome
||From a root tuber
||From endosperm of corn
||Mix in cold liquid
||Mix in cold liquid
||Mix in cold liquid
|Substitution for 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
||1 ½ tsp
||1 ½ tsp
||Fruits or similar highly acidic medium
||Fruits and similar acidic medium
||Cannot be cooked for long periods, best below boiling point. Does not do as well as tapioca with dishes that have to be frozen. Does not do well reheated, so add just before needed.
||Cannot be cooked for long periods. Good for dishes that are going to be frozen, like a fruit pie
||Can be cooked for longer periods than the other two. Does not do well when the dish has to be frozen
|Appearance of Final Dish
||Shiny glossy glaze
Coconut-Chocolate Pudding with Arrowroot
Organic unsweetened coconut milk – 1 ¾ cup
Cocoa powder – 4 tbsp
Semi-sweet chocolate morsels – 5 tbsp
Arrowroot powder – ¼ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Cinnamon and nutmeg (freshly powdered) – ½ tsp
Crushed arrowroot biscuits or sugar cookies – topping
- To a ¼ cup of coconut milk, add cocoa powder and cinnamon, nutmeg powder and arrowroot. Mix well to form the slurry.
- Bring the remaining coconut milk to a simmer.
- Add salt and sugar to the warm coconut milk. Stir to dissolve.
- Take ½ cup of simmering liquid and mix well with the slurry. Add this mixture back to the simmering coconut milk. Whisk for a minute. Add the chocolate and continue whisking until it starts becoming thick, about 30 seconds or so. Remove immediately from heat.
- Pour into ramekins and chill for 8 hours or more.
- Before serving, sprinkle the crushed cookies on top.