It has been a while since I have had the time to join in with the TWD members. There are so many reasons that I haven’t participated, from the fact that I am not happy with my tiny oven (so tiny that I can only bake 2 quarter sized sheet pans at a time and they do not bake evenly), to the complete lack of light in my house (natural light that flows in, not actual lights), so let’s just say that I haven’t really felt like joining in on the fun. After fighting with it all for 2 years, I have figured a few things out and I finally found my spot in the house for photos; of course, this could all change if I make the changes here that I am hoping to make.
So how do they taste? The flavor is slightly floral from the use of vanilla and orange blossom extract but while the lemon zest still stands out, it is a bit more subtle than I expected. Semolina is the key to the sandy texture but not quite as obvious flavor wise, just be sure to use the right one! The almond flour is used raw rather than toasted and while it added a bit of texture and a slightly nutty flavor, it really wasn’t very obvious so I might try toasting it a bit first next time, and there will be a next time! Overall, this would not be my first choice but I was surprised and I can see making these again.
But enough about me, let’s talk about these cookies! What I love most about the book Dorie’s Cookies is the size of the recipes. It may sound like an odd thing to say but large recipes are really inconvenient in my kitchen. My oven is so small that I cannot put anything larger than 15 inches in it; 15 inches wide or 15 inches deep. This means that most standard sized cookie sheets will not fit and that leaves me with few options. What does fit is quarter sized sheet pans and then, only 2 at a time with about a dozen cookies on each pan. If I make a large number of cookies, I can spend an hour or more just baking them. This book eliminates that problem since most of the recipes are so small that I find I can usually get them baked in only two batches.
There is another advantage to small recipes, and not just the eating them all part; ingredients. It is a relatively small investment in the ingredients if the recipe is small and the ingredients are expensive. A huge plus in the “make these” column for me. It can also leave room for experimentation, something I think this particular recipe would be perfect for.
First, let’s talk about semolina. This flour is usually found in pasta and bread recipes and there are different types available. The one I keep in my freezer is a finely ground semola, imported from Italy and perfect for making semolina bread. It is not perfect for these cookies, it is so fine that it made the cookies a little denser than I would have liked. Purchase the semolina found in the imported food section or in a Middle Eastern market; it is slightly coarser and perfect for this recipe because it is a large part of the sandy texture that the cookies have.
Next, use a scoop to portion the dough; it will save you a bunch of time. The scoop I used was a #50 and it made 48 cookies which were slightly smaller than the recipe called for but I wanted them small. A #40 scoop would probably be the perfect size to reach the yield listed in the recipe.
Lastly, this recipe is one I like to call a blank slate or a jumping point. It is wonderful as is but easy to change. Not a lemon fan, use orange zest. Don’t have orange flower water, use vanilla or even rosewater. Want a different flavor altogether, sub hazelnut meal for the almond meal. The combinations go on and on. The point here, do not be afraid to make these with the ingredients that the recipe calls for but if you need to substitute ingredients, it will work-with the exception of the semolina; that goes a long way towards the final texture of the cookie and should not be changed.
The bottom line, buy the book and make the cookies, seriously, you won’t regret it. And if you are wondering, we never publish the recipes out of respect for the author, so you will need to buy or borrow the book to get it!