We’ve Got Cookie Sign: Robot Wars (S13E2)

Another new month, another new MST3k, and another recipe to go with it!

The second episode of this season is Robot Wars, a Full Moon Entertainment special starring Barbara Crampton. It has everything you’d want: scorpion-esque robot transportation, the same set dressed as multiple different locations, and Crystal Vista, a village preserved as it was at the time of the 1993 “Great Toxic Gas Scare”. It’s VERY cheesy, and VERY 90s, and that’s what got me to this month’s cookie.

What’s the most 90s cookie you can think of?

No, not SnackWells.

I refuse to reverse-engineer SnackWells on this blog.

Fake SnackWells: Not Even Once

Time’s up! The answer is Dunkaroos, the lunchbox snack where you essentially got to dip cookies in cake frosting:

Midway through watching Robot Wars for the second time, the phrase “Savory Dunkaroos” entered my brain and then I needed to make it a reality. What would a savory dunkaroo need to have?

  • small graham-y or shortbread-y cookies, ideally stamped with some kind of design
  • a thick, frosting-y dip of some kind.

Given how truly cheesy this movie is, it made sense to make the cookies cheesy as well, so I dug up a smoked gouda cookie recipe from Dorie Greenspan, and to balance that out, I made a dip from my favorite chimichurri-esque sauce from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons by adding some avocado and greek yogurt.

beautiful, isn’t it?

These turned out great – the cheesiness of the cookies balances perfectly with the super herby-y dip, and the orange and green color scheme is very 90s Nickelodeon’s whole Memphis-y vibe.

Making the dip starts with toasting and grinding some coriander, cumin, and cardamon seeds. Toasting brings out the flavors a little more, so don’t skip this step. I use a cheap $10 coffee grinder from Amazon for grinding spices (and ONLY grinding spices), but you could also use a mortar and pestle here.

The sauce comes together in layers – first you chop the peppers and garlic, then add the cilantro and parsley and let that get all chopped up, then add the lemon and spices. This all gets finished off with olive oil, and then, since we want this to be a dip, some avocado. I later thinned this out with a few spoonfuls of greek yogurt to balance out the avocado with some extra “tang”.

The cookie dough also comes together in the food processor. Start out with the smoked gouda (and this doesn’t need to be fancy – I’m using the $3.99 grocery store special here), butter, cheddar, and cayenne, pulsing to small curds, then add the flour and keep pulsing until you get larger popcorn-y curds that start to form your dough ball.

Once that’s in place, that gets split into two “patties” you can roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, place between layers of parchement, and let hang out in the fridge for 4-5 hours to firm up. You can also cheat by putting this in the freezer for one.

Each of the slabs then gets rolled out and cut into as many cookies as you can with a 1 1/2 inch diameter biscuit cutter. I have some cookie stamps, so I stamped each of these as well for that Dunkaroos feel. Once you’ve cut cookies out of each slab, knead the dough together, re-roll, and repeat the process, chilling the slab for 10 minutes as needed.

Each sheet of these bakes for 16-18 minutes and comes out slightly puffed and golden. Let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.

Et voila! A fancy savory version of the 90s classic, perfect for noshing on while you sit through that Crystal Vista Timeshare meeting.

What do you think, Mads?

Smoky, Cheesy Cookies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into 16 pieces (8 Tbsp)
  • 4 ounces cold smoked Gouda, cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (170 grams)

Instructions
 

  • Put the cold butter, Gouda, cheddar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until the butter is in bits and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and pulse again, in long pulses, until the dough is moist and forms larger, popcorn-like curds.
  • Turn the dough out and knead it gently, just until you can shape it into a ball. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk.
  • Working with one disk at a time, roll to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Place each slab between two pieces of parchment paper and chill for 4-5 hours
  • When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. LIne a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a 1.5 inch-diameter cookie cutter to cut as many cookies as possible from each slab of dough and place them on the lined baking sheet.
  • Gather the scraps, re-roll, chill for 10 minutes, cut, and so on, until you’ve used all your dough.
  • Bake the cookies for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 9 minutes, or until they’re lightly golden on top and more golden on the bottom. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer them to a rack and cool completely.

Notes

From Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies. Makes about 45 cookies.

Green Dip

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods’ worth of cardamom seeds
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles deribbed and seeded
  • 1-3 garlic cloves smashed and peeled
  • 2 cups lightly-packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups lightly-packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large avocado
  • greek yogurt

Instructions
 

  • Put the coriander, cumin, and cardamom seeds into a dry skillet. Toast the spices lightly over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, just until they become fragrant, about 4 minutes. Let these cool for a few minutes, then grind fine in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
  • Put the chiles and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are fairly finely chopped. Add the cilantro, parsley, the mixture from the spice grinder, ground cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp kosher salt, and a few shakes of black pepper. Pulse until all is finely chopped into a rough puree.
  • With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Stop before the sauce is completely blended smooth. add the flesh of the avocado and continue to mix until completely combined, but still textured.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl and stir in a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.
  • Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes

based on the Spiced Green Sauce from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

We’ve Got Cookie Sign: Santo in the Treasure of Dracula (S13E1)

MST3k is back for season 13! In the spirit of the Invention Exchange, I decided to try and come up with a cookie (or bar or small dessert) for each of this season’s films. Rather than riffing on the title alone, I’m going to figure out each recipe after I’ve seen the episode, so that it can be based on the nature of the movie itself.

The first episode is Santo & the Treasure of Dracula, a lucha libre film with a wacky mixed-up plot that involves past-life regression, vampires, and, of course, El Santo, our luchador who’s also an inventor, scientist, and international bon vivant.

Mexican hot chocolate felt like a fun starting point for this. I love the combo of chocolate and chile, and it also ties in nicely with the movie’s spicy history – in addition to the cut seen on the show, there was also the European cut that featured alternate scenes with more see-through negligees.

I wanted to do a shortbread cookie here, so that these could be oval luchador-mask shaped cookies with some structure, and the chopped-up chocolate kind of looks like the eye, nose, and mouth holes in a typical luchador mask.

I thought I had ancho chile powder on hand, but it was actually chipotle chile powder.  That added a nice smoky edge, but you could also probably use half as much cayenne here.  The only thing you don’t want to use here is chili powder – that’s typically a mix of spices that’s not going play well with chocolate.

Up next: Robot Wars. Til then, enjoy!

Chocolate-Chipotle Luchador Shortbread

inspired by the Ancho & Chocolate Slice-and-Bakes in Jesse Szewczyk's Cookies: The New Classics

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour (192 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (14 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chile powder NOT chili powder – this should just be ground-up dried chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (142 grams)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (50 grams)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped (85 grams)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 large egg

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, chile powder, cinnamon, and salt
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through, until smooth, 2-3 minutes. (Alternately, use a large bowl and a hand mixer)
  • Turn the mixer off and add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until a crumbly dough forms, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped chocolate with a rubber spatula.
  • Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a 1 1/2-inch diameter log, then shape that into an oval, luchador-mask shape. Gently wrap in the plastic, twisting the ends tightly to help form a cylinder shape. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours, rotating it a few times to help it keep its shape.
  • Place the turbinado sugar in a large shallow bowl or plate. Crack the egg into a small bowl and stir with a fork until no streaks of yolk remain.
  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat
  • Unwrap the chilled dough and use a pastry brush to lightly coat the outside with the beaten egg. Roll the log in the turbinado sugar, firmly pressing the sugar into the sides of the log to help it stick. Use a sharp, thin knife to slice the log into approximately 16 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrang the slices on the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake until the tops of the cookies look matte and are very fragrant, 16-18 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. These will feel very soft when hot, but will firm up as they cool.

Cranberry Carrot-Cake Muffins

So, the best thing I purchased in quarantine was the cold brew maker that lives in my fridge now, but the second best thing I picked up was Joshua McFadden’s cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables. It’s a rare cookbook where I want to make literally every recipe in it, and I’ve already given it to more than a few friends as gifts. I’m a big fan of McFadden’s approach to cooking (the book is veggie-focused, but not strictly vegetarian – there’s a killer lamb stew with eggplant, among other meat-y recipes), and I’m eagerly awaiting his second book out this fall on cooking/baking with whole grains.

All of this to say that I checked out a recipe he developed for All-Clad last month and it was a disappointment. I don’t put the blame entirely with him – this probably passed through editors and assistants and somewhere along the way, a bunch of the helpful information I expect from a recipe went missing (and I had 18 muffins worth of batter for a recipe that said it would make 12). I’m a skilled enough baker to have survived this Bake-Off Technical Challenge-level starkness in the recipe, but I wanted to make it better for the bakers that came after me. Here’s my take on how this should go.

Cranberry Carrot-Cake Muffins

B-Side
adapted from Joshua McFadden's recipe for All-Clad
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings 18 muffins

Ingredients
  

  • cups all-purpose flour (300 g)
  • ½ cup brown sugar (107 g)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup grated carrots (99 g)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (99 g)
  • ½ cup crystallized ginger (92 g)
  • 12 oz cream cheese softened
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 400 F. Grease a 12-well muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and honey until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, both sugars, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and olive oil.
  • Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl and add your wet ingredients. Mix together until dry ingredients are fully moistened and no dry spots remain.
  • Fold in the carrots, cranberries, and crystalized ginger.
  • Fill each well of the muffin tin with about 3 Tbsp of batter, then top with a large spoonful of cream cheese mixture on the center.
  • Bake, checking around the 18-22 minute mark with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done. Cool on a rack and enjoy.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies

These are a recipe from Flour, a local bakery.  I make them better because the cookie is smaller and the glaze has more lime juice so there’s more of an interplay between sweet and sour.

Flour often makes two of these into an oreo/moon pie sort of a deal with some creme in the middle.  You could do that too, if you wanted.

This makes 28-32 cookies

Ingredients:

for the cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp (175 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (about 4 limes)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

for the glaze:

  • 1 cup (140 grams) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest (1-2 limes)

Steps:

  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes (10 minutes with a handheld mixer).  Yes, that’s a long time, you want this to get super light and fluffy.  Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter and sugar.
  3. Add the lime zest and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute to release the lime flavor.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined.  Scrape the bowl and paddle again to ensure the eggs are fully incorporated.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  With your mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.
  5. Drop the dough into 2 Tbsp portions (I use a medium-sized cookie scoop for this) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake for about 17-18 minutes, or until the cookies are pale brown on the edges and just firm to the touch in the center.  Be sure not to overbake the cookies until the tops are browned.
  7. Let cool on the baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature for glazing.  If the cookies are too warm, your glaze won’t stick.
  8. Make the glaze: while the cookies are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, lime juice, and lime zest until smooth.  You should have about 1/2 cup of glaze.
  9. Brush the cookies with a thin layer of the glaze, then allow to set for 10 minutes before serving or storing.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

These are a riff on a Cherry Cheesecake cookie America’s Test Kitchen featured in a Holiday Cookies issue.  If you really want to make these fancy, pick up a few cans of pie filling like the original recipe asks for and put 2-3 in a well in the center of each cookie.

This makes ~4 dozen cookies – I’ve typically made a batch and a half for Hunt.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter (20 tablespoons), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of Oreo crumbs
    (I typically extract all the creme from half a package of oreos, then pulverize the wafers.  You could also probably get those Nabisco chocolate cookies that are basically just the outsides of an Oreo, I won’t tell anyone)

Steps:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), beat cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium-high for 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until just combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add flour mixture.  Divide dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then coat completely in Oreo crumbs.  Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and gently flatten.
  5. Bake until cookies are cracked and set, about 12-13 minutes.
  6. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Peppernuts

This is a family recipe that I was given under the strict promise to not give it to anyone.  In response to that, I have given it to everyone who’s asked.

DO NOT DOUBLE THIS BATCH, this makes enough teeny-tiny licorice-flavored cookies to fill a 9×13 gladware container.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 8 cups flour (yes.)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp anise oil (needs to be the oil, not extract)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. With either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  2. Add corn syrup and sour cream and combine.
  3. Add 4 cups flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, soda, and anise oil.
  4. Move to a counter or silicone baking mat and knead in other 4c flour.
  5. Roll out segments of the dough into rolls that are roughly the diameter of your index finger. Chill until firm.
  6. Slice and bake at 375 until golden brown, roughly 11-14 minutes.