Saturday, August 11, 2012
Homemade Cookie Butter. Mr. Dave Style (w/Lard)
So, if somehow you don't already know the Capital Region just got its first Trader Joe's location over on Wolf Road in Colonie. I seem to be significantly less excited about this fact then many people. Then again I am a fairly unexcitable type of guy (read -- grouchy and boring).
Anyhow, it seems that the Trader Joe's brand "cookie butter" is one of the hot items that everyone spins themselves into a manic tizzy for. This is sort of strange to me as I generally have a jar of Biscoff spread in my cabinet (a brand of speculoos paste) and I kind of always found the stuff to be pretty unremarkable. Every now and again I get a craving for a bit of the goo spread on some toast taken with my tea (generally in the winter) but that's about it. Also, if I want a fresh jar I just order it off Amazon. I wouldn't even give a portion of a crap if a store opened up around here and suddenly carried the stuff. People always puzzle me.
In any event all of the cookie butter mania inspired a discussion on the tweeters about homemade cookie butter and what would be a good fat to utilize. When the Fuss-Meister-General suggested leaf lard my interest piqued and I decided that I would have to make a project of it.
I had a surfeit of ginger in my refrigerator as I had recently made some ol' timey' ginger ale for a friend's party and bought way too much (ginger). I decided to go for a ginger snap base (as opposed to speculoos cookies) for my cookie butter both because I like ginger snaps but also to use up the buttload of available ginger.
I began by peeling the approximately 1/2 pound of ginger with an absurdly large Dexter-Russel knife. You see, I was a bit -- ahem, ahem -- "tipsy" at the onset of this project and my wife had recently melted my awesome peeler in the dishwasher in a bizarre accident. Using the giant blade led to a huge pile of large clippings and I am surprised I didn't manage to peel a finger.
I started by doing my ginger in syrup recipe. You see, I am prone to stomach aches and I have found that a bit of candied ginger is just the thing to settle a tummy ache. I have made a habit of keeping osme of the stuff around.
You begin by boiling thinly 1/2 pound of thinly sliced ginger for 10 minutes twice, changing the water each time. Then you add 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water, bring to 225 deg, remove from heat and let it sit out overnight. At this point you have ginger in syrup which is useful for all sorts of things (both the ginger and the syrup). To make candied ginger you simply drain a bit of the ginger, toss it with sugar, and put it out to dry a bit overnight.
I use a pretty standard ginger snap recipe. My only tweeks are that I use candied ginger, ginger in syrup, in addition to powdered ginger. For spice -- I use allspice and cinnamon. I am not a fan of the cardamom/clove combination that you see in a lot of recipes. This is just my preference.
Ginger snap butter kind of already looks like cookie butter, don't it? I sort of wondered why people don't just eat this with a spoon instead of going through the trouble of cooking it...
In any event, I made a big ol' batch of ginger snaps.
For the actual cookie butter I used a handful of the snaps (about 10 cookies).
For my main fat I am going with lard. I initially wanted to track down some quality leaf lard but then I remembered that my experiments turn out fairly horrendous a good amount of time. I went with standard grocery store lard for this initial test run of the concept.
I ground the cookies pretty well in a food processor and then added a hearty dollop of the lard (perhaps 1/3 of a cup). I also added a bit of vanilla and a small handful of sugar.
As I ran the food processor I drizzled in about 2-3 tablespoons of Canola oil and just a titch of ginger syrup.
A tip here -- keep everything very cold as this is pretty much an emulsion. I let the food processor go for about 5 minutes initially and my cookie butter "broke," i.e. the fat separated from the cookie matter due to the heat created by the mechanical motion of the food processor. I just put the whole bowl into the freezer for 20 minutes and pulsed it again briefly and it assumed a perfectly creamy texture.
I thought the stuff looked very much like Biscoff and the texture was very similar. I was thoroughly impressed with myself because based on a visual inspection alone my experiment appeared successful. I gave her a taste and was surprised by how good the gunk was. It had a sort of gingery, salted caramel thing going on. The lard (as lard is wont to do) gave the cookie paste a sublimely creamy richness. Slap a label on this and I would buy it over Biscoff hands down.
I got about 2 little jam jars full of the stuff out of my recipe. I intend to inflict a spoonful on anyone who crosses my threshold as I really think the stuff is a success. I am currently brainstorming applications for Mr. Dave's Lardy-Cookie-Butter (that is a working title...). One of my notions involves ham and more crumbled ginger snaps. Also, a ham sandwich on hearty bread with just a schmear of the ginger cookie butter might or mightn't be sublime... Maybe just a hint of Coleman's English on the other side of the ham slice? Can you live at that speed?
I declare a successful experiment! Huzzah for lard and cookies!