Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Pea & Corn Cookies

Pea & Corn Cookies

Inspiration for these cookies come from a a few different sources. In the spring of last year I wrote a series for the Southern Foodways Alliance on southern women pastry chefs. One of the first chefs I interviewed was Christina Tosi, known for her whimsical sugary creations at Momofuku Milk Bar. I was familiar with her crack pie and cereal milk soft serve, but didn't realize she was a southern gal. She said, "to me, Southern food is all about heart, flavor, nurture, resourcefulness, history, and roots." That sentiment is embodied in her Corn Cookies, which she called the "sleeper" hit of the Milk Bar, but  that has become a personal favorite.

I've experimented with a few variations of the cookie. This summer when I was in Kentucky, I came across this wholegrain heirloom cornmeal, produced by Salamander Springs Farm. It's from a version of Daymon Morgan's Kentucky Butcher Corn, which produces red, blue, purple, orange, and white kernels. As a result, the cornmeal is variegated, with a purplish hue, and let me tell you it bakes like a DREAM. The cornbread I made from it was the best I've ever made, light and fine (and I don't think it's just because I was using Ronni Lundy's great recipe).

I tried the cornmeal in Tosi's Corn Cookies, and it's magic. I just pulse the cornmeal in the food processor so that the texture becomes finer, and then I use it in place of the corn flour. It results in a little it of a grainier & less golden cookie than the Momofuku original, but I don't mind a bit.

So the corn cookie is one thing, but a PEA cookie, you might ask? I know, I know--it's a little weird. But hear me out. Back in October, some friends from out of town were visiting and having heard me and others (like Bon Appetit) rave about Rose's Luxury, they were itching to go. We waited in line the requisite 1.5 hours (really not that bad) on Saturday evening and sat down in the first seating. As you might expect, the entire dinner was fabulous with such an air of comfort and pleasantness and yes, a little bit o' luxury, but really did it for me was in the final blow by way of THE PEA CAKE. When we asked what it was, our server told us it was a yellow cake with peas in it (we imagined peas mixed in throughout, like chocolate in a chocolate chip cookie), but when it came out, it was bright green, served with a mint curd, pea shoots, borage, and candied pistachios. It tasted like SPRING and literally sent shivers down my spine.

Ever since then, I've been wanting to put peas in my sweet baked goods. I found a similar green pea cake recipe. But I got to thinking...would a pea cookie work? After I confirmed my hunch that green pea flour is actually "a thing." I ordered some from Bob's Red Mill, along with some freeze-dried peas, and gave it a go. The result is maybe not on a Rose's Luxury level (not much is), but these Pea Cookies are a soft and sweet, not to mention unusually fresh-tasting and brilliantly colored little tea treat. As a childhood pea-hater, I wish I'd been offered these as an option.

Pea & Corn Cookies

Pea & Corn Cookies
Adapted from Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

(Recipe given for Pea Cookies, Corn Cookie variation in parenthesis or here)

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill green pea flour (for corn cookies use corn flour or fine ground cornmeal)
2/3 cup freeze dried pea powder (to make, pulverize freeze dried peas-- or corn for corn cookies-- like "Just Peas" from the Just Tomatoes brand, in a blender)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7-8 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, green pea flour (or corn flour for corn cookies), pea powder (or corn powder), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Using a 2 3/4oz. ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measure, portion out the dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie domes flat (I used the bottom of a ball jar for this). Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake the cookies at room temperature--they will not bake properly.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4-inches apart on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. They should be a little brown on the edges but still bright green (or yellow) in the center-- give them an extra minute if not.

5. Cool the cookies completely on sheet pans before transferring to a plate or airtight container for storage.  At room temp, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer they will keep for 1 month.

Pea & Corn Cookies with milk

Related recipes:
Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies
Sweet Corn Custard Pie with Tomato Jam

As featured on Food52

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