Monday, June 13, 2011

The Fine Cookie Co's pecan butterscotch cookie

Last Thursday, I popped out to London’s ExCeL center for a spot of work related research. After a rather extended journey around the complex (which, itself, was surprisingly complex) I decided to reward myself with a tasty cookie. When I spotted a tray of locally sourced goods, prepared by The Fine Cookie Company, I quickly made my move.

There was a surprisingly wide variety on offer so, deciding to make the most of this selection, I went with a pecan butterscotch cookie. It looked appetizing enough: golden around the edges, splattered with patches of melted butterscotch and three whole pecans on the top (which look uncannily similar to brains).

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. The thick biscuit lacked enough butter and had been baked for too long. It was dry and crunchy, but not in a good way. Plus, I had to work break the cookie into chunks, each of which was way too dense and felt like a bad version of biscotti.

As far as taste, the dough was salty and bland, while the butterscotch was saccharine and synthetic. This created a rather strange and unpleasant combination of the two, with occasional hits of chemical flavorings.  The pecan chunks were a nice addition but didn’t redeem the cookie.

In the end, I gave up and jettisoned the remaining half of my cookie into the nearest bin. The fact that it had cost £2.20 only made it worse. The Fine Cookie Company was anything but fine.  Sorry guys.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Red Rooster's cornbread

Last night, I joined two dear friends up in Harlem to check out Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster. Not only was I lucky enough to enjoy their good company, I also had some baked goods too!

Before ordering our main courses our server recommended we try the cornbread and we happily placed an order. Cornbread is the generic name used to describe a variety of breads made using cornmeal and leavened with baking powder. It is often considered as a typically "southern" dish but seems to originate in Native American culinary culture, perhaps because of its ready availability.

Our two thick slices of cornbread was served hot with two small pots of honeyed butter and tomato jam (my favorite). We cut the slices in half and contentedly smeared them with the delicious condiments. They tasted good - the cornmeal came through nicely, balanced by the right amount of creaminess. The bread itself was light, fluffy, neither too solid nor too crumbly. Personally, I prefer a little of that gritty texture but, disregarding that, Mr. Samuelsson's cornbread was excellent.

Unfortunately, I was silly enough to forget to take a phot, however, I took a photo of the bakery's selection as I snuck out. Enjoy!

Red Rooster:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Surprise attack!

Popped into Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art today with my grandmother and was ambushed by a buffet luncheon. There was, of course, a tower of baked goods. I had no choice!

The brownies were fine. Small squares, lightly dusted with icing sugar. As far as texture goes, they were more chocolate cake than brownie. While I prefer my brownies to be gooey on the inside and crisp on the outside, these were a little bit too spongy. Too little chocolate and a bit too much flour.

I also sampled a couple of cookies - chocolate chip, butterscotch and macadamia nut. Unfortunately, all seemed to have an excess of flour and salt, which overwhelmed the extra ingredients. They also lacked that special cookie crunch - floppy (stale?) rather than crumbly.

All in all, I was a bit disappointed by the baked goods. I know it's a large buffet but, for such classic American desserts, they could have been a lot better.

Sorry guys. Better luck next time.


And, one special friend might be interested to hear that I macadamia nuts also trigger my OAS (oral allergy syndrome). Learn something new everyday!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trader Joe's "Petits Palmiers"

Tonight, being in Pittsburgh, I found myself confronted by my grandparents' absurdly overstocked kitchen. Sitting next to the boston cream pie and the danish rolls was an open box of Trader Joe's "Petits Palmiers." Feeling rather peckish, I thought I'd have a munch.

A palmier or "palm tree" is a traditional French baked good, considered to have been invented around the turn of the 20th century. They are prepared by folding thin layers of puff pastry to form a butterfly shape, which is then sprinkled with granulated sugar. The palmier is then baked until golden brown and crunchy. It is a staple item in French bakeries due to its simplicity and versatility.

Trader Joe's take is remarkably tasty, considering the quantity that they produce. The palmier itself has a rich, golden brown color and there is a good amount of crunch. The puff pastry is soft and light, which gives a melt-in-your-mouth experience. It's also not too sugary, which, given the American predilection for sweet, is admirable. 

Overall, while I enjoyed my palmiers (eating them before and after dinner), the pastry itself wasn't flaky or fluffy enough to be a real winner. For what you're paying, they're a great deal. However, obvious as this might be, you can't beat the real deal, especially when taken with a cafe au lait on a sunny French sidewalk!