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.
Lightly coat a sheet of waxed paper with a touch of butter.
Remove the frozen cake balls when they are firm. Insert the lollipop stick through their centers.
Roll the cake pop in the melted toppings.
I used caramel and coconut for Samoas, further topping each with a fine sliver of melted dark chocolate over the cake pop, melted mint M&M for Thin Mints, and melted peanut butter chips for Tagalongs.
Let cool on the waxed paper.
Note: I also tried the same melted coatings on sugar cookies.
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.
The batter used to make Injera relies on fermentation to rise. My carefully-planned Ethiopian dinner was to be a surprise for N, but when the batter didn’t rise even after 24 hours, I panicked. Trying to eke out warmth from this late spring weather into the batter was futile – the optimum temperature for fermentation is between 75-80°F.
I ended up using the “oven” method to coax both batters (one batch made with dry active yeast and another with air-borne wild yeast) to rise. This endeavor reminded me of some tips to help with fermentation of a batter made with flour, yeast, and salt:
Use a wide stainless steel pan to increase the surface area exposed to air; this helps more of the batter to be exposed to capture both wild yeast from the air and heat to start the fermentation process.
Use non-chlorinated water (chlorine inhibits yeast from fermenting).
Use kosher salt, as iodized salt slows down fermentation.
If the air is not warm enough, heat the oven to 200°F. Once the temperature is reached, turn off the oven. Put the batter in to the warm oven for an hour. This warms the yeast and starts up the fermentation process. Remove the batter from the oven and let the process continue naturally outside. Another method using the oven is to turn the oven light on, and leave the batter in the oven overnight. Remove the batter from the oven and let the process continue on outside.
In cool weather, plan for the meal two days ahead! The ideal temperature for dry yeast is 75°F and for naturally-occurring wild yeast found in the atmosphere is 80-90°F.
Teff flour – 1 cup
Water – 1 cup + 1 tbsp
Kosher salt – ½ tsp
Yeast (instant active dry) – ¾ tsp
Sift the flour
Warm 1 tbsp. of water. Add the yeast to the water. Mix until yeast granules are dissolved.
Add the water and salt to the yeast solution.
Add the liquids to the flour. Mix well.
Keep aside in a warm place, for 24-48 hours. Bubbles on the surface of the batter or cracks that appear on the puffed up surface indicate that the batter is ready.
When ready to cook, add a little water to get the batter to a pouring consistency.
Heat a non-stick skillet.
Using a ladle, drop in 2 tbsp of batter into the middle of the pan or skillet. Using the back of the ladle spread the batter in one continuous motion, working from the center in concentric circles toward the edge of the skillet. When little bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, the injera bread is ready. There is no need to flip the injera over, as the steam causes it to cook through.
Keep the bread stacked. Makes about 6 pancakes.
The batter can also be made without yeast.
N., who is a Nutella fiend, came home for the weekend, and I used the remaining gluten-free teff flour to make Nutella-based cookies. The texture of the cookies is more like bran muffin, which also balanced out the sweetness of Nutella.
Teff Flour and Nutella Cookies
Teff flour –1½ cup
Agave nectar – ½ cup
Nutella – ½ cup
Oil – ½ cup
Cinnamon (or your preference) extract – 1tsp
Preheat the oven to 350F
In a food processor, mix the agave nectar, Nutella, oil and cinnamon extract.
Add the teff flour and combine well.
On a greased cooking sheet (stains the cookie pan), add a tablespoon of the cookie batter. Flatten the batter with the spoon.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 10-12 cookies.