How can a simple cookie recipe be my downfall? When did cookies get so complicated? How much butter is “too much?”
It started with an old family recipe for bar cookies. I stumbled across the recipe card not long ago and it triggered fond memories from my childhood.
So I got all the ingredients together, assembled my food photography studio (more on that… later) and started to work.
My mom always called these “English Toffee Cookies.” I have no idea why. Every other recipe with that name involves a thick layer of chocolate goodness over a thin cookie crust. The toffee part is normally created separately using lots of butter and sugar.
I always thought of them as “Compromise Cookies.”
I was a picky child and would get VERY upset at the idea of someone ruining good chocolate cookies by adding nuts or weird stuff like butterscotch. My brother SWORE he liked butterscotch chips better than chocolate ones. My dad liked nuts. My mom figured out how to make one batch of cookies to satisfy all of us without making anyone compromise on what we wanted.
She was clever that way.
One of the hard parts about blogging is coming up with a title that sells. I knew if I just titled the cookie recipe as “English Toffee Cookie Recipe” then it would be… boring. I tentatively titled the cookies as “compromise cookies” and got to work.
What in a cookie?
My mom’s recipe clearly calls for margarine. She even uses the full old-fashioned name “oleo margarine” in the ingredients. In the instructions she refers to it as “oleo.” It’s just one of those things that makes me smile.
I don’t cook with margarine.
The idea of actually EATING margarine does not make me smile.
I’m not here to judge your food choices, you can make those for yourself. But in the great butter versus margarine debate, we picked butter.
I decided not to compromise.
I decided to bake my mom’s recipe with butter instead of margarine.
Oh. That’s where the name came from.
When I started measuring out the ingredients, I realized that the recipe calls for TWO sticks of butter and a cup of brown sugar.
butter + brown sugar = toffee
That’s not a precise recipe, but even without Googling it, I know those are the primary ingredients.
Let me break it down for my non baking friends.
This recipe has TWICE the normal amount of butter.
Let the baking commence!
I decided to leave the recipe alone other than to swap butter for margarine.
I photographed my heart out.
I eagerly sampled the results.
Um… how can I explain this… after a few bites I felt myself going into sugar shock. My mouth had that greasy feel you get from eating too many potato chips. My lips were lightly glossed.
I refuse to compromise on health. I refuse to compromise on flavor either! And I’m not a big fan of cookies that double as lip balm.
I decided dink around and try again. (I”m pretty certain that “dink” is a technical cooking term.)
I made every substitution you can name. I reduced the fat and sugar, I added alternate grains and nut flours, I used some creative substations. They were all changes I’ve made to other recipes, so I was fairly confident that it would work.
And the results are?
I think I took it too far.
I made crackers.
Crackers aren’t cookies.
(On the plus side, it’s the first time I’ve actually had crackers that didn’t turn out soggy.)
These will be NO compromise cookies.
At this point, these REALLY are No Compromise Cookies. I just refuse to compromise on flavor or ingredient quality. I won’t do it for my family and I certainly won’t do it on my blog.
So instead of a recipe you get a story.
After some extensive research (including today’s post from Mothering From Scratch), I figured out what the problem is. I’m baking a third batch today.
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