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A Week of Cookies from The Gourmet Cookie Book, Day 3 (And Your Third Chance to Win a Copy)

Editor’s note: Welcome back to our week of stories and cookies from The Gourmet Cookie Book. Can you believe it’s day three already? Please say hello to guest contributor Kim Holliday, who baked—hold the presses, make that deep fried—the Galettes de Noël from 1969. You can find the recipe on page 62 of the book. If you’re just joining us for the series, get the lay of the land here. And don’t forget, you can enter up to six times for a chance to win a copy of the book, by leaving a comment on each of the five days’ posts and by joining the Umami Girl facebook page between now and December 31, 2010. Find Day 1 here and Day 2 here. And now, without further ado, take it away, Kim!

I have always considered cooking a bit of an adventure. Sure, sometimes it’s routine, but most times I use it as a chance to explore. So it’s only apropos that when I agreed to make the recipe for my birth year, I discovered it to be nothing short of arduous. A deep-fried dough? Well, here goes…

As I was making the recipe, I was impressed with how naturally it came together as a gorgeous dough. As the Gourmet Cookie Book recipe advised, with just a spoonful of extra milk, voilà! I must admit, I did not have the most precise method for dividing the dough into 15 to 18 balls; mine numbered about ten more than that. But who doesn’t prefer a big batch of cookies to a small one?

Taking on a recipe from my birth year definitely led me to reflect on eras.  As a ’69 baby, I was always proud to have at least one foot in the sixties. The year of landing on the moon— talk about explorations. Maybe that’s why that spirit is ingrained in my DNA.

Photograph: Kim Holliday

I am curious as to whether my mom ever made this Galettes de Noël recipe, but it’s doubtful, as she was busy with her firstborn and a still freshly minted marriage. Although she never shied away from fried dough in concept: When we were kids, she held an annual neighborhood “doughnut party” just before the start of the school year. What a novelty! We had seemingly hundreds of kids and moms in our rural corner-lot manicured yard, celebrating the end of the summer instead of begrudging it. And better yet, doing so while we were still able to break the rules, having such fun on a weekday. The cookie for my year seems to makes sense for the times as they once were.

While I was waiting the 25 minutes for my dough balls to rest, I decided to do some work in parallel on another recipe that I had been eyeing: the Bourbon Balls for 1980. Heck, I am a bit of a Jack Daniels girl, and who doesn’t love a bourbon ball or two?

I live in a small town in Sonoma County, CA, which once had the honor of receiving a favorable comment on our local taco truck in a Gourmet issue several years ago. But in my hamlet, I could not for the life of me find the chocolate wafers necessary for the dark color and flavor of the Bourbon Balls. With a bit of inventiveness and stubbornness, I ventured instead to use a package of Newman-O’s, the organic version of Oreos, which required scraping away the precious white crème. (What does one do with a pile of that stuff, anyway?) So if you see tiny black flakes in the photographed ’69 cookies, those might be a few crumbs that remained on the counter when I got back to rolling the fried-dough cookies.

Frying the dough was interesting. As an engineer, I of course studied the behavior of the dough in the sizzling hot oil. Not surprisingly, the time span from when the rolled cookie dough was lowered into the hot oil until the moment that it rose (or bounced!) to the surface was inversely proportional to the temperature of the oil. But I did find it interesting that the edge of the dough that last entered the oil going down was the first to break the surface of the oil on the way back up.  I would also estimate that something close to 18 percent of the time, the galette pulled a maneuver during surfacing in which it folded over into a taco shape, so this took some well-timed attentiveness to catch. (Not that the unintended shape didn’t provide a handy receptacle for a sweet filling.)

Despite not having a deep fryer, controlling the temperature wasn’t as much of a challenge as my work patterns. Let’s just say that the darker galettes resulted from when I had turned my back on the cooking pot while rolling a new ball, and the lighter ones were a product of my hovering over the pot instead.

Once I flipped and scooped the galettes out, I questioned whether I was putting too much powdered sugar on them. But after my first bite, I knew that no, they were perfect. And oddly enough, the flavors in that first bite brought me swiftly back to memories of my childhood neighborhood, and eating the homemade Italian pizzelles made by our across-the-street local grandma, Mrs. Cappa.

What a delectable treat! I am ecstatic to share them with others, and gladder still that I made them smaller than prescribed, to have more to share.

I unfortunately began this endeavor late on this Saturday, and it is now later than I wanted it to be. Thus, the Bourbon Balls will have to wait. At least my chocolate wafers are prepped. And I suspect letting the raisins spend extra time marinating in Jack Daniels is not the worst idea.

Oh, and for the record—one package of Newman-O’s produces one and three-quarters cup of crushed chocolate wafers (sans white crème, of course).


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  1. […] After you’ve read this first post, head on over to Day 2 and Day 3 for two more great stories and chances to […]

  2. Kathy

    Wow… these sound so good. Cookies and deep fried stuff — two of the basic food groups right? How did the bourbon balls turn out?

  3. Kathleen

    These look delicious, but I’ve never, ever deep fried anything (living alone makes it not really very time- or cost-effective)…

  4. Mary

    I’m a little late to the game here, preparing for the holidays this year was busier then expected, i guess, just now getting some down time. What a brilliant idea, this cookbook looks fabulous! Not a surprise really, having known Anne and her family since my college years (which lately seems to be ages ago!), I expect nothing but creativity and warm family oriented ideas from her. All of the kind words said of her, I can attest are true. I have really enjoyed reading these creative and personal pieces of history so far and look forward to trying my hand at some of these recipes next year! My mom and I actually re-invigorated our special cookie making days this year, and decided that in addition to annual holiday martini night, we are going to spend a day making cookies together too for the holidays. This book will be a perfect gift for her upcoming birthday!! Thanks for sharing your memories and cookies. I’m so proud of you Anne and hats off to all of you as well that were brave enough to undergo this awesome task. Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!

  5. Roya

    They look amazing..

  6. […] between now and December 31st, read and comment on all five posts (find Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here and Day 4 here) and join the Umami Girl facebook page for six (six!) chances to win a copy of the […]

  7. Biased Bob...Dad & Husband

    Complexity, creativity and caring…..Kim certainly has mastered attributes of the 60’s and 70’s in baking cookies and in writing about it! YES, caring developed in the 70’s……..how could you not become caring after seeing 58,000+ American lives lost in a winless venture, with unestimatable damage and lives lost for others. We would have done better holding a cookie exchange! Think about it………

  8. […] the Umami Girl facebook page between now and December 31, 2010. Find Day 1 here, Day 2 here and Day 3 here. And now, without further ado, take it away, […]

  9. Nasira

    any cookie recipe is great and this cook book would be awesome to win!

  10. TC

    I love fried dough! But I’m too lazy to do it at home. lol!

  11. Sara

    You had me at “fried dough”! YUMMY!

  12. fatima

    i just love reading stories of how food was an integral part of fond childhood memories!

  13. Joan Thompson

    Just love reading each entry. Must confess I wind up re-reading the site from the beginning each day.
    Baking cookies with your children is so much fun, especially when you give the last of the gingerbread dough to Boots the dog!!!
    Well I am off to make my last two batches of cookies so I can bring them to Christmas dinner although I don’t think they will shine a light on Kimbas’ creations.

  14. Anne

    I too give you credit for deep frying Kim! So what did you do with all of that hot oil after you were done? Can it be used again for your next batch of Galettes? I hope you are packaging up a few for us to taste over Christmas. (: Thanks so much for the engineering-esque recount of your cookie frying process!

  15. Anu Chathampally

    I give you credit for deep frying!

  16. Zarpandit

    OMG! mouth is watering 😀 i want to win this book!

  17. Kim Holliday

    I love the comments… and i must break the news to Cynthea that i quietly sampled one or two finger swabs of white creme from the Newman-O’s, but then packaged it away and disposed of it. (It IS all good ingredients though, as you say.) And yes, Teri, I was lucky growing up, and still am!

    A quick update that these cookies are divine re-heated. I froze many of them on the 2nd day, and take them directly from the freezer into a 275 degree oven on a cookie cooling rack sitting on a cookie tray. Monitor carefully until the top just begins to sizzle (and yes, that powdered sugar starts to caramelize). Drop into a bowl and put a dollop or two of vanilla ice cream on top while it’s hot (it doesn’t require much at all). You will think you died and went to heaven!

  18. Kim Demopoulos

    Kim – you inspired me to make the Bourbon Balls. But in Hoboken, the chocolate wafers are easy to find. I loved the Newman-O’s idea though, very plucky. Clearly a ’60’s baby…

  19. Jocelyne

    This year was my first actually making holiday treats (freezer is stocked) and I definitely could use such a great source of inspiration for the future!

  20. Rachel

    What a great series! So fun to read about the processes happening in these kitchens amid a busy season.

  21. Joan Holliday

    My mouth is watering! They LOOK delectable! And, in your usual fashion—-multi-tasking and doing a great job. Your proud Mama

  22. Teri

    I have so many comments, where to start?
    1. You had a local, pizelle-making grandma AND a doughnut party on your street? Seriously lucky girl.
    2. Now Kim, seriously, 18% for the taco folding, eh? Are you sure it wasn’t 18.4%?
    3. Bourbon balls, umami! I enjoyed making those with my mom and sis every year, way back when. I will have to check in with them to see what we used for chocolate wafers. Today, my go-to chocolate wafer cookie was discovered by my 4-year old: the chocolate cat cookies from Trader Joe’s. The perfect texture with no white goop to scrape.
    4. There can never be too much powedered sugar – think beignets at Cafe du Monde!
    I loved your detailed account – thanks for sharing!

  23. Cynthea

    Kim, like yesterday, I totally think you are brave. Deep frying dough makes me very scared (although I have always really, really wanted to make funnel cake and these cookies reminded me of that w/ the powdered sugar).

    Two thoughts I had reading your post: 1) I don’t think it is possible to ever use too much powdered sugar and 2) I totally know where you can send all that Newman-O’s white creme if you haven’t already gobbled it up. I have always wanted someone to package that cream in little containers and sell it separate from the cookie. My sister tells me that the Newman-O’s white cream contains less of the yucky chemicals, which in my language means it’s good for you! Eat up all that cream (or send it to me!)

  24. Riptide

    The narratives make me want to try these recipes.

  25. nina

    I would love to win this cookbook!