Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cocoa Cookies with Apricot Brandy in Place of Vanilla

I don't generally like leaving my home in winter. Granted, we are experiencing an incredible mid-winter thaw after the thundersnowstorm on Thursday, but I still don't like driving places when I don't have to. (I really miss living within easy walking distance of a grocery store.) Thus, when I discovered our kitchen mysteriously lacks vanilla extract for some cookies I wanted to make for a friend's party on Saturday, I decided to substitute with what I had on hand: apricot brandy. A cooking substitutions book suggested liqueur as a substitute for vanilla extract, and this was as close as I could get. Apricots go well with chocolate, right?

Step 1:
I softened 1 cup of butter in the microwave to make it easier to beat with 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar. Once that was blended, I added 2 teaspoons of apricot brandy and 1 egg. This was all blended using my hand mixer.

Step 2:
I mixed 1 cup of whole wheat flour in with the sugar/butter/egg/brandy. I then mixed in 1 cup of Jiffy Mix because I ran out of flour. (I was going to substitute with cornmeal, like when I made cornmeal raisin cookies, but it was infested with bugs.) I also put in 1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix. 

Step 3:
This is about when I started to preheat my oven to 350F. For a normal oven, I'd say 375F. My oven runs hot, so I automatically lower temperature by about 25 degrees.

Step 4:
I took half a bag of leftover milk chocolate chips and blended them via a wooden spoon with the batter. A taste test proved this to be a very delicious mix! 

Step 5:
I sprayed a cookie sheet with Pam and plopped little balls of dough onto it. The oven preheated. (You may want to move preheating the oven to step 1 from step 3 if you have a slower oven. Mine heats up pretty quickly in addition to being off in temperature.) I wasn't sure how much the cookies would spread, so I only did 9 my first batch. I baked them for 12 minutes.
It turned out the batter was too thin, and the cookies spread out far too much. I added more Jiffy mix to my remaining batter to thicken it up, maybe 1/2 cup more. I didn't actually measure it. I did another sheet of 9 blobs and cut my cook time to 10 minutes. That did the trick! I ended up with a total of 19 cookies that looked like cookies and not melted pancakes. 

Because there were so few cookies (for a party, anyway), I have resolved not to eat one. I ate the melted first batch instead, and though the texture was a bit crispy, the flavor was pretty good! I can't tell if they taste like apricot. I don't think so. I will have to ask everyone at the party who tries them. 

This makes me wonder what else I can use to substitute for vanilla extract. A chocolate extract might be tasty with cookies. I could make raisin cookies with rum extract, and almond cookies with almond extract. Most extracts are expensive, though, so I doubt I will ever be able to try them. Never say never, though!

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