Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Estrellas de Chocolate (aka Chocolate Mint Coconut Cookies)

I should have known from the way this recipe found it’s way to me that it was going to be a memorable one. It wasn’t because of the Cuban-ness of it, as I actually have never had these cookies before nor have met anyone that has made them. No, it was more because of the way my coworker, Ibby, pulled a fast one on me.

Before I knew it, I had volunteered to bake for our Haiti fundraiser. This was not me on so many levels. As many of you know, I’m not a baker. I was scheduled to be at an all-day training on the day of the bake sale. Prep-day was jam packed with planning for an event we were putting on for work and I knew it wouldn’t be until at least 10:00 p.m. for me to get started baking.

So, she signed me up and the stress began.

Recipe #488: Estrellas de Chocolate

estrellas de chocolate ingredients

The ingredients were easy to buy, the star-shaped cookie cutters were right there waiting for me at Jo-Ann Fabrics (just like Ibby had assured me when I tried to tell her that I couldn’t bake because I didn’t have star-shaped cookie cutters for the recipe) and the kids were asleep. Time to start baking.

For many of you that are cookie bakers, you would have felt right at home with my Facebook friends that were yelling at me from the start, "No! Don’t make a Nitza cookie! Nitza doesn’t know cookies!"

Well, well. Where were my friends when I needed them to give me more excuses for Ibby?

I plugged away and started beating the butter and adding the sugar in my stand-mixer. I added the eggs, one by one as Nitza Cookie suggested and then added the melted chocolate to the mix. I then added the flour, dry milk, salt and baking powder I had sifted, just as she suggested.

chocolate into mixer

When she asked me to knead the dough well and roll it out with a rolling pin, I was excited. It would finally be time to use my shiny new red rolling pin from Williams Sonoma.

cookie dough

I should have known better. Just like my Facebook friends had been warning.

There was no kneading. No rolling. No touching that wet soggy dough. I tried my Pastel de Medianoche dough method of patting it out with my hands and took out my star-shaped cookie cutters. Useless. The cookie cutters just made imprints in the soggy dough and I couldn’t lift a star to save my life.

non stars

Cookie blobs. My recipe had quickly turned from chocolate stars to chocolate meteors.

cookie blobs

Ibby’s lucky I’ve known her for fifteen years. Oh boy.

I placed my blobs on greased cookie sheets and put them in my oven at 375 for six minutes. Yeah, right. Six minutes. What in the world is wrong with Nitza and her oven times.

Minute by minute, I checked until they looked cooked through and at about fifteen minutes, I pulled them out. And they were burnt. My friend Teresa caringly suggested the name Estrellados de Chocolate (which loosly translates to chocolate disasters).

burnt batch

Burnt cookie blobs. The night was getting better and better.

The next batch of blobs came out perfect at twelve minutes, so I continued to bake at twelve minutes while I moved on to the next step of making the mint frosting that would serve as the middle of these chocolate cookie sandwiches.

The mint stuff was made of cream cheese (of course), mint extract and powdered sugar. I beat that with my hand mixer and set it aside with the cookies that were cooling on the racks I had also conveniently found at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

mint frosting

As if this all wasn’t enough, it was time to melt some butter and chocolate chips in the microwave (screw the baño Maria) and a little hot water at the end to let it mix well. I put that aside, along with a plateful of shredded coconut that would come together to serve as a nice outer ring to my cookie blog meteor planet looking things.

production line

It was close to 1:00 a.m. when I put the assembly line into motion. Cookie, mint stuffing, cookie.

mint stuff

Chocolate spread around the rim. Dip in coconut to finish.

chocolate mint coconut cookie sandwich

I had bought individual clear bags so that each cookie could be sold at around $43 apiece. All the time and energy? If this was going to raise money for Haiti, it should sell for at least that amount. That’s what I would have priced them at if I were selling them.

packaged product

Good thing I wasn’t the one doing the pricing. Ibby was up with her own baking creation when my husband dropped my donation off at 2:00 a.m. We wouldn’t have sold a thing if they were all priced at $43 each. And, from what Ibby tells me, the drive to work in the morning was quite adventurous for our baked goods – someone cut her off and all my cookies flew out of the bag, shooting meteor style, almost missing their chance to raise money for the bake sale.

At the end of it all, we held a successful bake sale for Haiti and donated the funds through Operation Helping Hands (a partnership we have with United Way of Miami-Dade, Univision Radio and Univision 23). I didn’t try one of the cookies in their entirety (but did allocate about 10 points for the tasting process – gross), but they were all sold, at a reasonable price.

There’s a whole chapter dedicated to cookies, and this happened to be the first one. If this is how we’re going to start, I think I can wait till I get to the next one, Tejas. Besides being a really bad haircut for men (think mullet) and a roof tile style, what in the world is a teja? I’d greatly appreciate any pitfalls before making an attempt at Recipe #489.

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