a few days ago, aun had a post extolling the wonders of martha stewart's baking handbook; as i commented there, i'm fascinated by her, i admire the accomplished staff that she has assembled, i've spent a lot of money on her products, but for me, her recipes suck. however, i seemed to be in the minority in that tiny forum; it was enough to make me think i should give another martha-approved recipe a try.
so, i picked up a copy of "martha stewart holiday cookies" magazine, and the one cookie that really caught my eye was the candy stripe cookie sticks. mostly because they are a good-looking cookie, but also because it's such an unwieldy name, although i personally can't come up with a nicer one.
it is basically a tuile recipe made into rectangles and then rolled into a cigar-shape. red batter is piped on before baking, which give the candy cane stripe. simple, really, just a little patience should do it. the batter is quite easy, and the directions clear enough. i cut out a template from a piece of cardboard, dug out the silpat sheet, and even found my offset spatula. preheated the oven. made the batter in just a few minutes. even managed to spread out the batter perfectly, and i only made two at time, as suggested.
fine. except not. i put the finely crafted first batch (omg, you should've seen the stripes on those! as close to perfect as i was going to get) into the 400˚f oven, and waited 8 minutes, like you do. and when i returned? smoking oven, with cookies the sort of tan the surgeon general told your gran to abandon in the seventies. not good. checked the oven. secondary thermometer said it was calibrated correctly, so i knocked down the temperature/time in various five degree/one minute increments. the result? a third of the batter wasted on unrollable cookies. i eventually settled on 380˚f for 5 minutes, although the cookie doesn't come out as dry as i think it should (however, it is infinitely easier to roll). also, the recipe says a tablespoonful of batter. that produced planks--it's more like 1/2-3/4ths of a tablespoon for a more manageable cookie. also, i used a standard small offset spatula, but it was slightly unwieldy for the prescribed size (3" x 6" rectangle) as it doesn't quite 'fit' as well as it could--perhaps another 1/8th-1/4th of an inch added to the width would make it easier for us mere mortals to make a smoother cookie with less fuss. and those stripes? let's not get into the ocd/meth hell that produced such perfection in the martha version. okay, back in the oven. five minutes later i learn there is a special tool that the recipe neglects to mention that is absolutely necessary: FINGERS LIKE ASBESTOS. THESE COOKIES ARE #$%^ING HOT!!! the recipe is correct in saying you really need to roll these immediately or fuggedaboudit. i found, however, that working directly on top of the oven on the ceramic cooktop helped keep the cookie pliable for a valuable five seconds more (if you have a separate or built in oven, roll them on the sheet you baked them on). rolling too tightly=bad. loosely=bad. rolling in a way that requires you to hold onto the burning cookie longer than you should=good.
actually, i sort of became determined to make it work. perhaps the spirit of cybill shepherd-as-martha was at work. and i think eventually, i got some nice cookies. but not nice enough. the worse thing? they were sort of boring tasting. anise or orange or >gasp!< maybe even peppermint so they'd be even more candy cane-like would have made them far more interesting.
clickety click tried them as well, and has a fantastic open letter to martha because of her trauma. so, sorry, martha. the recipes are still a no-go. i'm sticking to your hand towels for now.