Ralph from Madison, WI (2017 Week 2: Cookies)




Madison, WI

Baking Challenge

Viennese Whirls

Give your cookies or gingerbread creation a name based on the flavors and decoration – and tell us about your recipe.

Southwest Commuter Wheels. I did not make any changes to Mary Berry’s recipe for the batter. It turned out very nice and created very short, melt in your mouth cookies. For the filling I made two jams, but not on purpose. For the first, a mixed berry jam, I might have used too much pectin, so the consistency wasn’t quite right. I reheated it and added a little red wine (not from Wisconsin) to make the jam more spreadable. Not knowing if that works out I cooked a raspberry jam with less pectin as well. Both jams set beautifully this time, and the red wine really added to the berry flavor. As to the butter: Here I diverted. This week had an odd Holiday theme going on: cookies, gingerbread, and heavy buttercream. As much as I love butter, I wanted something lighter (if there is something like a light buttercream) and made a Swiss meringue buttercream. It’s fairly simple: heat the egg whites with sugar over a double boiler to a specific temperature, then beat the mixture to fairly stiff peaks, let it cool to room temperature and then add the room temperature butter. I used the same amount of butter but the whole cream is lighter (and super easy to pipe). The Wisconsin twist will explain the name …

Now that you survived this challenge, what words of wisdom do you have to share?

What others have mentioned. Make sure you have a large enough piping tip for the batter and then put the piped cookies in the fridge for ten minutes before baking. I did not know how delicate the cookies are, so it helped using a very thin spatula to move them.

Tell us about how you added a Wisconsin twist.

I commute by bike via the Southwest Commuter Path in Madison. Last year, I saw that there are elderberry trees growing along the bike path. I got some berries and cooked syrup out of them. It’s fabulous on ice cream! Here, I used maybe a quarter of a cup in the buttercream. You might be able to see that it is pink. This was my Wisconsin twist idea to begin with, and the syrup really added a lot. So tart, fruity, fresh, and so Madison …

How did you do?

Absolutely lovely.