Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cranberry What-The-Fuckies

VeganMoFo is teaching me  how
to become a more sensitive,
compassionate friend.

Again, I found myself with a backlog of leftovers.  So, cookietime.  I googled for "veganmofo 2010 cookies" to find a recipe, and was stopped dead in mid-scroll by these.  Holy Mother of God.  (Where do people find all this natural light, by the way?)  Wing-It Vegan's "Katie's Beet Cookies" post originated with  this recipe, which seemed simple enough for my baking skill level.

The only ingredient I was missing was pureed beets, which I was certain I could find at my local rip-off health food store.  Alas, the only beet product they had in stock was sliced, salted beets.  So I had to improvise.  It seemed like the primary criterion for a substitute ingredient was "red."  So, how about apple sauce and beet juice?  No; there was a dusty valley in the beverage isle where beet juice used to flourish.  OK, how about pomegranate juice?  That stuff is red.  Sadly, the only bottles of pomegranate juice I found had one-inch thick layers of solid sediment at their bases; not a good sign.  Okay, how about cranberry sauce?  No, they're all sweetened and gelatinous.  Fine, then just frozen cranberries.  I'd thaw them and whiz them in the food processor.

When I got the frozen cranberries home I popped one in my mouth to evaluate the degree to which they differed from beets.  Turned out, quite a bit.  They were very sour.  So I read the back of the bag and noticed a simple method for turning them into a sort of sweet mash, commonly known as "cranberry sauce."  Yes, the very same jellied cylinder available in cans. Well, I thought, home-brewed cranberry sauce would be much better than that.  Surely this would be the perfect substitute ingredient. 

Sure, they look edible...
But when I finally rendered my "sauce," it was pretty lumpy.  I feared it would not mix well with the dry ingredients, and cause uneven baking. Why not puree it?  Like beets?  So I whizzed the cranberry sauce in my Cuisinart and produced what I thought was a damned close approximation of pureed beets.  I found that I had to add about a quarter cup of water to it to get it to mix with the dry ingredients, but I eventually ended up with a purple goop approximating cookie dough.  (It's probably significant to note that I only added a tablespoon of sugar to the dry ingredients because the cranberry sauce required so much.)
Cookies don't do that.

Everything went smoothly until I took them out of the oven. They were strange.  They had a uniform, almost plastic texture.  They were soft and spongy, and not even slightly crisp.  They were unusually pliable.

I let them cool and then tried one.  It was like a pleasantly flavored jelly sponge cake.  In other words, horrible.

So I made two clear mistakes here:
  1. I tried to bake a colloid.
  2. I liquefied most of the sugar before baking, leaving none to caramelize during baking.
Fortunately, I believe that every experience is valuable, especially the experiences in which you fail miserably. Failure is more instructional than success.  In fact, I bet I can find a pithy quote on the topic in under 10 seconds...
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” -- C. S. Lewis

 WTF is a "finger post?"


  1. Failure is definitely more instructional than success! Next time you'll know exactly what not to do and I know they sucked ass but I just LOVE the colour of these cookies. I have no idea what a finger post is!? LOL.

  2. This is my favorite blog post title of all time!

  3. I felt better after reading this, not in like a "ha ha, you failed at cookies" kind of way, more like, "hey, other people fuck up too." :)

  4. This post made me snicker. Despite the pliable cookies, they are mighty pretty! And, a dude who bakes cookies should get a gold star no matter what the end result is.

  5. Oh please oh please save one for me. Even if they are gross, my curiosity is piqued.


  6. This post made me smile... sorry about the failure, but I love to title. I've been snickering and feeling like I have a private joke since I read it hours ago. Decided to comment to let you know that even though your cookies didn't turn out, you did make someone have a bit of a snicker with the what the fuckies! Haha

  7. Thanks for the support, everyone. I have given this experience some hard thought and I have decided to heal my psyche by successfully using cranberry sauce in another cookie. They shall be called Cranberry Burglars. Or Burglarettes. Maybe next week.