Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From the Nancy Drew Cookbook--Mrs. Nickerson's Holiday Cookies, Flop or Fab?

I love Nancy Drew--maybe not as much as the Hardy Boys, but I'm still a big fan. Over the past few years I've been ebaying the 50's-60's versions of the books. I've read the earlier ones, and it's actually quite interesting to compare how the books were changed between the first and second printings. In my quest to collect the whole series, I stumbled across the Nancy Drew Cookbook. Published in 1977, the book has some very "interesting" vintage recipes, and the ones I've tried have been quite good (love the 99 Steps French Toast) . Regardless, the recipe names and the "Drew's Clues" alone, make it a cookbook worth buying.

As part of my Christmas baking extravaganza, I decided to try "Mrs. Nickerson's Holiday Cookies." Before I say anything bad, the cookies are really tasty and similar to a madeleine. The recipe as written, however, has a lot to be desired. Let's just say if that's a sampling of Mrs. Nickerson's cooking, it's no wonder that Ned was always at the Drew's house snarfing down Hanah Gruen's culinary delights.

Below is the recipe as written, with my notes in red. It took me 4 rounds to get it right, but I'll share my tips and save you the time, trouble, and really hideous cookies.

1 Stick Butter
2 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Milk
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 Cups Flour
2 Squares Bitter Chocolate, Melted or
2 Tablespoons Cocoa (I opted for the cocoa)

You need 3 Mixing bowls! One medium, two small. Mix butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, and flour together in one of the bowls. In another bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the milk and vanilla. Add slowly to the dry mixture and stir. I thought the mixing combos were a little odd, but I followed them anyway. You'll also notice that this doesn't look like much batter, but it stretched way further than I expected and made 63 cookies.

Place 1/4 of the batter in the third bowl. Add the melted chocolate or cocoa. Heat the oven to 350°F.

Grease a cookie sheet, if you want to burn the edges and have the cookies stick to the sheet. Instead, I recommend placing a piece of parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Drop both kinds of batter on it, a teaspoon at a time, side by side so they're touching.

Flatten together with a wet fork, if you want soggy cookies. These cookies will flatten enough on their own medling the two doughs together. Add white, red, or green sugar as decoration if you want really ugly cookies. Bake for 12 minutes if you like your cookies to double as weapons. I suggest baking for 9-10 minutes depending on your oven.

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