Yogurt fail; cookie win ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

07 January 2009

Yogurt fail; cookie win

This weekend Bethany, Danny and Faire came over to hang out and attempt our first batch of homemade yogurt.

In theory, this should have been easy. The process is pretty straightforward: sterilize equipment, scald milk, cool milk to between 100-110F, mix in the yogurt culture, pour yogurtized milk into jars, and incubate in the same temperature range until it sets, i.e. 3-8 hours.

In practice, we didn't have a candy thermometer, so instead of keeping the yogurt cultures in the correct range, we accidentally fried them. It's a good thing you can rescald and retry this with the same milk. I'm totally going to redo it as soon as I find a candy thermometer.

In the meantime, I did actually rescald a jar of the milk (which was still really yogurt-scented and tangy beforehand; was there some other problem besides killing the culture? Hmm). Then I made molasses cookies.

Molasses cookies do not fail.

9 1/2 tbsp butter at room temp
1 cup sugar/brown sugar/whichever
1 egg at room temp
1/4 cup serious molasses
2 1/2 tbsp milk
2 cups wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
cinnamon and ginger

This works like any other cookie recipe: cream wet ingredients, add dry, form into balls, bake. So start with the butter and sugar. My butter was frozen, so I stuck it in the toaster oven to melt a little before mixing. For sugar, you can probably use anything you have on hand. White sugar will give you a less intense molasses flavor; brown will do the opposite. In this case, dark brown sugar would be optimal, but you can get by without it. I used turbinado sugar.

Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy, then add the egg, molasses, and milk. Mix until everything is incorporated and uniform.

Add the baking soda, salt, and spices to the wet mix. You can use any spice that's reasonably cookielike here. Ginger and cinnamon are the obvious choices, but you can try cloves, nutmeg, allspice, or whatever else you think sounds good. Go for about two teaspoons of mixed spice.

When everything else is mixed in, add the flour in batches. I did this a half cup at a time, so as to avoid giant clouds.

Form the finished dough into balls. If you wet your hands first, the dough will have a harder time sticking to them. I made mine about the size of a walnut, for maybe two dozen cookies.

Bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are cracked and you can see a tiny bit of encroaching golden brown coloring. If you're in doubt, take them out earlier rather than later; the dark color of the dough makes it pretty difficult to see any potential burn.

Give your finished cookies a minute to solidify before you put them on a cooling rack.


Store what's left of the batch in something airtight, so they stay chewy and nice. Then you can have them for breakfast in the morning.

No, seriously: molasses cookies with banana are great. You could potentially break them all up and add whipped cream, for a gigantic trifly thing, or use them as the crust to a banana cream concoction. In my case, after eating a banana and cookies out of hand, I remembered that we had the end of the (thick, greek) yogurt starter still in the refrigerator, and opened, so we couldn't use the contaminated sample for our second try.

Clearly, cookies with plain good yogurt and banana slices are the best idea ever.

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