Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cubicle kitchen: Biscoiti de Maizana Bites

I'm not planning on going on any job interviews any time soon, but I'm wondering if I could use my experience with baking as an answer when I'm asked about my ability to take direction, but also make things my own and problem solve on the fly.  This was one of those recipes that had me showing off those skills.  I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to use them as a business asset, but they did result in some tasty, gluten-free treats.

Remember the package I made for the Gilmore Girls swap?  And the corn starch pin cushion?  Well, I still have the bag of corn starch that came from that box, as well as at least one other box already sitting in the pantry. The idea of using it a tablespoon at a time just seemed too long and laborious for my impatient mind, so I searched for recipes that use a more substantial amount.

These cookies are apparently a Brazilian sweet staple.  There were a few variations out there using a ratio of corn starch to flour, but I figured since I was using so much of something non-gluten, I might as well go all the way and choose one that had no flour.  That would satisfy my trainer and allow a few other people who are usually left out to sample my treats.  There are plenty of things which can be made gluten-free, but because my pantry is just not diverse enough to have all of the various gluten-free flours that other recipes reference, I need a recipe that is gluten-free without using specialty ingredients.  Gluten-free by default, not design.

So there I was, with the best of intentions, cookie dough all prepared and ready to start rolling balls and get them in the oven.  The dough wasn't quite firm enough to roll, so I spooned it onto the parchment paper in well-separated mounds.  After a few minutes, though, the mounds had melted into a thin layer of batter covering the sheet.

Oh no!  What to do?

I had suspected that this might happen, which is why I started with just one sheet, and had already taken out my mini-muffin tins with my plan B in mind.  I spooned the rest of the dough into the tins, no papers, just sprayed with non-stick, and baked them until I thought they were about done.  Meanwhile, I started cutting out circles from the thin sheet of cookie I had, and tasting the scraps to make sure this melty cookie was worth the effort.

It so was.  These have an almost marshmallow taste to them, and although they have the slightest bit of corn starchy aftertaste to them, I still found them to be pretty delicious and very sweet.  I ate so many scraps I spent the rest of the afternoon on a sugar high, which was further fueled a cup of coffee (the sweetness of the cookies pairs really well with that) and the feeling of accomplishment as the cookie bites came out of the mini-muffin tins looking lovely.

Because the remaining batter gave me 16 bites and I always feel like I need more, I made a second batch the next day.  This time I sprinkled in some dark chocolate chips, because like coffee, the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate pairs really well with the sweetness of these cookies.  And also because I had about a cup of chips left over from the Dark Harvest Muffins.  I also melted some of them to sandwich between the cookies I had cut out from my first melted sheet.  I'm also thinking of making these lemon cookies in another version, possibly with a lemon curd center.

So all in all, I think these cookies are a great example of working with the resources you have available, making adjustments when necessary without panicking, and completing a project with results possibly more delicious than anticipated.

If only technical documentation could be so delicious.

Biscoiti de Maizana Bites
Adapted from What's Cooking America: Biscoiti de Maizana

Makes 30 mini-muffin cookie bites

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature*
  • About 1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
*I used 1 stick of butter, and Brummel and Brown for the remaining 1/4 cup

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray your mini-muffin trays with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix cornstarch, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and butter until well combined.  If adding chocolate chips, fold in. Let the dough sit approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Drop a tablespoon of dough into each mini-muffin cup.  If adding chocolate chips, you can add a few on top as well.
  4. Bake the cookies on the center rack of the oven for approximately 7 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Remove from oven.
  5. Let cookies cool slightly before removing from the tray.  They will be very fragile, so be gentle.

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