Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lemon Puddle Cookies

Is there anyone out there who doesn't like cookies? Okay, that one person that raised your hand...you, there in the back...really? There's not a single cookie you like? There has to be one. For me...if it says cookie, I like it. Well...as long as it's not crunchy...then I like it. But give me a glass of milk for the crunchy cookies and I'm all set to go. I love finding new yummy cookie recipes, it makes me excited. We love cookies so much in fact that we don't hardly ever make popcorn for movies...we make a bowl of cookie dough and eat half of that and bake the other half into cookies. Mmmmm. (Yes, I'm well aware that we could get sick from raw dough, but I've got 25+ years of successful dough eating under my belt, I'm not too worried...it's worth the risk to me). 

So one night we went to make our go-to Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, and we discovered we were out of PB. I had just created my Pinterest account and said, "Hey! I saw some cookies today that looked really good, I'll try pulling them up." So I found the pin for Lemon Crinkle Cookies, whipped them together, and threw them in the oven. When we pulled them out, they definitely did not look like this:

The Original Pin:
http://www.laurenslatest.com/lemon-crinkle-cookies/
But they tasted oh so yummy. Most of the time when I try something I found on Pinterest, I try to move the original pin to my "Pin There, Done That" board, and I give a little blurb about whether or not we liked it, and if it worked. Here's what I said about these cookies: "These are so dang good. So light and yummy. I'm sitting here eating them right now. Ours look different, but they taste great." This was pre-Pinstrosity days, so I didn't even think about taking a picture. There weren't pretty, and they didn't resemble the original cookies by any means, but they did taste good. 

So with that story...I was excited when we received an email from Ruby, who also tried these cookies out, and, just like ours, they didn't turn out quite like the original pin either. 

Ruby explained that the adventure didn't start off real strong as they had trouble with the butter. "We don't have a microwave in our new house, so to soften the butter for creaming in the first stage I put the bowl in a sink of warm water. It sorta melted more than softened, and refused to be 'light and fluffy', rather sad and a bit puddly." She forged on ahead though, being sure to follow the instructions as carefully and closely as she could. She got the dough all mixed up, but her concoction was less doughy and more...goopy.  She said, "It got to the end, and the mixture was fairly wet, not so much like cookie dough should be. My mum came in and said that it looked like it needed more flour, but me being quite stubborn I insisted that I'd followed the recipe and that they'd be fine! So voila, my crepe type biscuits which spread out completely." 

The Pinstrosity

"There are only a couple left though, because they're delicious despite looking like they've been sat on by an elephant!" 

We don't have a photo of how our cookies turned out...but they did look pretty close to what Ruby had there in her photo. Since these were just for eating at home, I wasn't too worried about how they looked, I was more worried about how they tasted and they were awesome. 

I'd love to take these to a party or deliver goodies or something sometime, so I went back through the comments to see if I could gather any great tips on what went wrong and what to do differently. I'm pretty sure the butter was the deal with ours (and maybe Ruby's). 

Real butter is my nemesis. It's either frozen solid, or a melted puddle. I can't ever get it room temperature. I've even sat and played on the computer for half and hour with a wrapped stick of butter under my arm to try and warm it up and it just doesn't (hey...we all do weird things when we're in the comfort of our own homes)! So I put it in the microwave and zap it for 4.3 seconds and it's a boiling puddle of burnt butter. So I use margarine a lot. I know, real butter is better to bake with usually, but we aren't speaking to each other right now. It sounds like Ruby had similar issues with getting the butter just right. When I made these I used margarine, and that was probably my biggest downfall with this, as I found out in the comments. 
http://www.laurenslatest.com/lemon-crinkle-cookies/

It's actually a little funny that Ruby and I had trouble with the cookies spreading too much, because most of the people who commented with troubles had the opposite problem (theirs wouldn't flatten at all). Ruby and I are just awesome like that. We're forming a club. Okay, maybe it's just an imaginary club, but it's a cool one. 

So I'm thinking the key here to pretty cookies (along with the awesome taste it already has) is to have your butter "just right"...too melted and it doesn't work, too frozen and it doesn't blend well. Too fake and it just doesn't work. Does anyone else have butter issues? I'm sure I'm not the only one. But if so, that's okay...everyone has to have a food nemesis of some sort, right? 

I think next time I try to make these, I'll plan way ahead (I never plan ahead with cookies...planning even 5 hours in advance is planning way ahead...we're just spontaneous cookie people) and leave the real butter out on the counter for a day before trying to mix these up. We'll see if that works. I'm also learning to do test batches (just baking 3-4 cookies before putting in a whole pan) so I can see if I need to try adding flour, changing the temperature, singing to my cranky oven, or anything like that. It does take an extra 6-14 minutes (depending on cookie cooking times), but I'm finding it to be well worth the time. I'm ending up with fewer wasted ingredients, fewer goofy batches, and more happy cookies! 

So give these a whirl, they really are tasty tasty tasty! 



33 comments:

  1. having butter at the wrong consistency can screw up a lot of recipes (frankly, if the butter melts, you're better off sticking that butter in tupperware, putting it in the fridge and using a different stick of butter).
    Here's how I get room temp. butter in a short amount of time- I pulled my stick(s) of butter out, unwrap them and then slice into about tablespoon thick pieces. I separate the pieces so they aren't touching. I stick them on the counter, or if its cold in my house in the microwave (not turned on). usually in about 45 min. I can count on my butter being softened.

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    1. This, exactly. I do a lot of baking and also what many people think of as softened is actually too soft. You want it to give easily when you press it, but not be so soft that you could spread it on crappy wonder bread without the bread tearing. Also, if I put the pieces in a stainless steel bowl, I can get the softening time down to about a half hour because the stainless steel conducts heat so well.

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    2. do you heat the stainless steel bowl in anyway before you put them in, or does it just help the heat spread by itself?

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  2. I have made these cookies successfully several times by making a few tweeks. It is really simple, make up the batter then refrigerate it until it's cold and more solid! That's it. Just put it in the fridge before you make the cookies. Also, forgo trying to "roll" them in the powdered sugar. Just form them into cookies, bake them, then dip the tops in powdered sugar when they are still warm (but not hot). You get the same flavor but without the mess. I hope this works for you!

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    1. ...yes! Dreadful to work with initially, but fine when chilled.

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  3. Growing up, I always knew when my mom was making cookies because the butter would be out on the counter the night before. It would sit there all night and most of the day of baking. I do that now and the cookies come out great!

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    1. Yeah, I've never had butter soften in an hour, even in the summer (it is mild here however). It usually takes half a day or I do it overnight.

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  4. I always take the butter out and cut it up into small cubes, like slice it into slices then cube those onto a large diner plate so they are all not touching. Then I measuring out everything else and by the time I am ready it is almost always perfect. If not into the microwave on about 20% power for 10 seconds at a time.

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  5. Margarine seldom makes for a decent cookie, as in seldom meaning never. Butter is always the best option and it need not be scary. Trying to defrost it in the microwave seldom works unless you specifically use the defrost mode and even then it's chancey. Best bet take it out & let it sit on the counter til it softens. Melted butter makes a lousy cookie. Even if you only let it sit out half an hour & then use your mixer to beat it until light & fluffy, colder butter tales longer but it will eventually work.

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  6. My butter trick:

    I take out a metal bowl, then slice my cold butter really thin (usually a teaspoon a pat). I put the pats on the bowl, making sure none touch, then leave it to get everything else measured out. The butter is usually soft within 15 minutes. If it's not, I put it in my mixer and mix it, alone, for a few minutes before adding my wet ingredients.

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  7. I've never been able to stand the taste of real butter in anything so I'll have to see if I can pull this off with marg. There just has. Gotta be a good way.

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  8. I actually made these a few months ago...I got the recipe from my husband, who got it from somewhere else. I wasn't aware that this was a pin, but I wrote about it on my blog. I remember that I did have to tweak the recipe a bit, and they still didn't look like the picture above. I know I added more flour and probably a bit more vanilla. They were delicious, though, especially to someone who is not a big fan of lemon cookies!

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  9. Always put the butter out the night before to soften, putting butter in the microwave or setting a bowl in another of hot water is a sure fire way of ruining all the hard work you are about to put into baking.

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  10. My mom never softened the butter. Take the stick from the fridge, cut it into half tablespoon slabs and then cream with the sugar. Hand mixer on high until it is fully mixed together.

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  11. I've found light butter melts like crazy. Regular and unsalted butter usually soften up for me fine left on the counter overnight in a 72F house.

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  12. Microwaves can be handy tools as long as you remember that, just like your stove, there's a lot of levels between on and high. I always soften my butter in the microwave and it comes out fine. I do 20% power for about 20 seconds at a time, adjusting as needed.

    This is only if you don't plan ahead and leave the butter out a few hours ahead of time. That's really the best way. Also, remember that "room temperature" butter is about 68 degrees so if your home is warmer or colder than that you need to adjust your expectations. Butter at the right temperature will be firm but have give to it when pressed. It won't be soupy or squish with light pressure.

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  13. Oh Lover of cookie dough - have you ever tried this recipe??? It's on my "to do list"!
    http://www.somethingswanky.com/monster-cookie-dough-dip/

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  14. I always leave one brick of butter on the counter as soon as I return home from the grocery store and replace it when I use it spontaneously baking. :)

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    1. Great tip! So easy, and basically no prep. plus that gives me an excuse to buy a super cute butter dish!! :)

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  15. Cookie tips from a quasi-cookie-pro. 1. ALWAYS use real butter. Period. 2. ALWAYS use real vanilla. Period. 3. Use twice the amount of vanilla called for. Seriously, makes a ton of difference. People pay me to make cookies for parties and events. My cookies are raved about. And honestly, real butter and vanilla are essential. I never used to believe that, but my customers swear by it. Can't argue with success!!

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    1. Amen. I came to comment and say the exact things. Exact. I'd also add that aging chocolate chip cookie dough 24 hours makes a world of difference.


      **Please don't use margarine. Ever. In anything. Its awful stuff really. Use butter, or olive/grapeseed oil. Stop with the margarine.

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  16. I will put the butter on the stove over the pilot light so the warmth from that helps to make it soft, and watch it so it doesn't melt.

    I've also discovered that some people use the word "butter" interchangeably with "margarine". My M-I-L gave me the recipe for her no-bake cookies which failed miserably for me, until I asked her if she used butter or margarine, and she admitted it was margarine. She said she always writes butter because to her there is no difference between the two.

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  17. Try butter flavored Crisco. They come in sticks. Store in cupboard, always room temp. I only make cookies this way!

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  18. I tried this once and it looked exactly like the pinstrosity picture! Although, I used real butter, I'm pretty sure it was due to a malfunctioning oven. After many failed cookie batches (including tried at true ones) I discovered that my oven is 100 degrees colder when the oven beeps telling me it's preheated and then 30 degrees hotter once it is "done" preheating. Lovely. But I agree, the cookies are heavenly!

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  19. Honestly, if you like to bake a lot then the simplest way is usually the easiest - in this case use a plain, old-fashioned butter dish. That way you always have a stick or two (depending on the size of your dish, of course) ready to use. Use the refrigerated butter for seasoning other dishes (like your steamed veggies or mashed potatoes).

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  20. The quickest way I've found to soften butter is to grate it! Just like cheese! It's super messy, but it's softened within minutes! I read about it in a cookbook and have done it ever since. It's awesome!

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  21. Butter doesn't have to be refrigerated if you're going to be using it pretty quickly. We used to have a butter dish that had a lid that was left on the counter. The cats couldn't lick it, but we still had soft butter to put on our toast.

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  22. I have found you from an spanish article. You have agreat blog. I´m still laughing! Reallly good.

    Zepequeña.

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  23. Also you can put your butter in a zip lock and wack it good with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer (you know, those wooden hammers) or rolling pin - it helps soften it :D

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  24. I've made these cookies and never had a problem. They turn out pretty much looking like the actual pin. I generally try to take the butter out of the freezer at least 3 hours before baking. It should still be relatively firm when you start baking. At my house we always keep at least one box of stick butter frozen.

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    1. My comment was pretty much going to be the exact same thing. My mom gave me the recipe for these before I even knew about Pinterest and I have never had a problem with them. I've made lemon, banana, and confetti cake ones. All were delicious, but the confetti cake ones turned out more like a sugar cookie. I think it might have to do with it being a white cake mix. I've always heard white cake mix is very different than other mixes. Oh well...I'm rambling now. Anywho, I LOVE this site. I'm sure some of my projects will end up like some of these.

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  25. I usually soften butter by setting it out on top of the stove while the oven preheats. While it's softening, I do the other recipe prep work (chopping, melting, etc.). If I've finished all the prep and the butter is still hard, I fold a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher or something for a few minutes. It works like a charm! Just make sure to check the butter often so it doesn't start melting. I used up four pounds of butter this way when I did my holiday baking.

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  26. So this might sound odd, but if I'm doing chore, I'll walk around the house with a still-wrapped stick of butter under my arm. If I'm sitting reading/watching television, I'll pop one between my knees. This softens butter pretty quickly. Hope this helps!

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