Now that it is Palm Sunday we can begin planning the Easter feast 🙂 During this lockdown, one has to make do with what we have stocked up on. I needed a dish that I could make with the ingredients I had at home and found this recipe in the Encyclopaedia of Creative Cooking. The original required almonds to be mixed into the batter, but I didn’t have any so I replaced them with cashew nuts on top of the cookies. I also added a quarter teaspoon of salt to the recipe to emphasise the sweetness. These cookies turned out to be very crisp and were polished off with a lot of noise in no time!
Today is Advent Sunday. It not only welcomes the birth of Christ but also the start of the festive feasting. I found this recipe for Viennese shortbread cookies in the All Colour Cookbook. When I tried this in my kitchen, I found that they were very light and crisp cookies, so easy to bite into and chew. The orange flavour from the rind was tantalizing, and the sprinkling of icing sugar made it a little sweeter. I dispensed with the butter cream filling to make it less calorific. The original was piped out through a flower nozzle but I rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters. My method yields around 50 cookies.
During the 80s, unsold books from Western countries used to be exported to India as waste paper and sold here as books at throwaway prices. I picked up The Cookie Cookbook by Evelyne Johnson in one such sale for just Rs. 6. It’s a tiny book, called a Dell Purse Book, and I forgot I had it until I discovered it amongst my books 30 years later. This book has a recipe called Mrs. Graham’s Honey Dough which disappointed me with its flavour and texture. A year later I tried the recipe again, modifying it to improve its taste and mouth feel. I increased the eggs and honey in the recipe, which improved both the flavour and appearance and imparted a cake-like texture to the cookies. These cookies have a very soft texture and can be served to the elderly who face difficulty in chewing, as well as to toddlers. Because they are soft, crumbs do not fly, reducing post-consumption cleanup time 🙂
Advent rings the bell to start the Christmas baking season. These are ideal to serve guests or carolers who may drop in, since you can make around 50 cookies or more at one go with this recipe. They are also ideal to take with you when you go visiting. My daughter developed this recipe using cocoa powder instead of chocolate to arrive at these scrumptious dark chocolate cookies. They are also ideal for the Indian pocket as all chocolate is prohibitively expensive to use in cooking. The use of chocolate vermicelli in the recipe enhances the look and the taste.
I always drooled over the jam cookies filling the old-fashioned glass jars on bakery shelves. The crunch of the crisp cookies with the sharp taste and sticky texture of jam used to fascinate me. My daughter and I came across several recipes using jam on cookies, but none of them matched the traditional ones, so my daughter developed this recipe. It is absolutely delicious. This cookie is even crisper than the store-bought cookies.
My daughter and I dislike the artificial flavour of store-bought cookies/biscuits and prefer to bake our own. In our search for cookie recipes that used ingredients commonly available in Chennai, we came across this delicious cookie recipe in The Cookie Cookbook. These are soft cookies and will be enjoyed by children as well as the elderly. The original recipe used sour cream, and we modified it to use leftover curds.
My 100th recipe 🙂 A long time ago, in 1973 to be exact, I developed a highly nutritious ragi (millet) cookie recipe when I attended a Summer Institute in foods and nutrition. It was a great success; unfortunately someone leaked the recipe to the bakers in Chennai from which ragi biscuits were developed and appeared in local bakeries (and are still popular today, though quite far removed from my original). I have revived my creation here and modified it for the 21st century (so this also does not resemble the original, but is much tastier and eggless).