Persian Love Cookies!

I find this hard to believe, but it’s been over a month since last I blogged. I’m sorry to have left you cookie lovers hanging, but I’m back, and I’m going to do my best to get back into the kitchen for you!

Before we get into the meat of today’s post (get it? Meat? On a vegan blog? Shenanigans!), I just wanted to give you a little insight into my disappearance and the progress of KP ‘s Cookies: the last month(+) has been a little hectic because of my retail job; the post-holiday kibosh on my customers’ spending has been lifted, and so I’ve been dedicating a little more time and energy to the job that’s putting food on the table and cookies in the oven. And speaking of ovens, all of the commercial kitchens I’ve been exploring are either out of my current financial league, or else unable to partner with me for one reason or another. My GoFundMe account is still active, if anyone wants to help me make a push toward affording those services–without a kitchen, I can’t go ahead and apply for my liability insurance or health permits, and without those, there’s no need for the business license, because I won’t be allowed to operate.

I have still been baking (for proof, check out my friend Amir’s blog), and beside the old standards (Divine Vegan Chocolate Chip, anyone?) I’ve put together a few new recipes, like my absolutely irresistible Meyer Lemon Shortbread cookies, which came to be when one of my managers brought in a bag of lemons picked fresh from the lemon tree in her backyard.

Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Today’s recipe, however, draws its inspiration from a far less local source: the Persian love cake. Back in the summer of 2009, I discovered the recipe for the Persian love cake, and knew instantly that, should I ever get married, it would be the cake featured at my wedding.

A cake I baked (and tried to decorate) for the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival in 2009. The top layer was a Persian Love Cake!

And before I go any further, I should state that this isn’t a wedding announcement for myself–because the only thing I’m wedded to is my job, and the only child I intend to have has floppy ears and four paws–but the cookies that follow were developed to celebrate someone else’s engagement!

A few days ago, my friend Dana went on a cruise…and as soon. As she disembarked, I received a fairly mysterious voice message: “Call me back. I have news!” Assuming that she hadn’t won the Mega Millions while off at sea, I indeed called her back–and found out that her long-time boyfriend had proposed on the ship. So, I decided to write a cookie recipe in honor of Dana’s big step closer to a life of wedded bliss.

The Persian Love Cake is a chiffon cake spiced with cardamom, iced with rosewater frosting, and garnished with pistachios. It’s bliss in cake form. I set out to recreate it, and came up with this:

Persian Love Cookies

The Persian Love Cookie is a cardamom and pistachio shortbread with a rosewater and lime frosting. It’s light but bold, and has a taste unlike any you might have encountered.

I’m so excited to share these with Dana, and with all of you. They’re just one more reason to #savethecookies!

On that note: I’ve decided that, ultimately, I’d like to join the growing ranks of Food Truckers in the Bay Area. I went to my first Moveable Feast last week, and I can’t wait to participate in more. I’m also hoping to check out Edgewood Eats in Palo Alto, and I’d really like to get up to San Fran for a couple of Off the Grids. All of the food trucks around here have SO much personality and so many great menu items…I’m hoping that someday very soon I can join their ranks.

The future home of the future KP’s Cookies Truck…

That’s why I HAVE to get KP’s Cookies off of the ground as quickly as possible–the sooner that I make the cookies’ presence known at farmers markets around the Bay area, the sooner I can start really fundraising for the KP’s Cookies truck. I need your help to #savethecookies. It’s only if we all get together and spread the word that cookies are the true spotlight (and food truck) deserving dessert that we can take down the cupcake empire!

Love & Cookies,

KP

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Donate to KP’s Cookies

Friends, Romans, Cookie Lovers, lend me your cookie jars:

I have taken a giant leap–head first–into the scary world of business ownership. In order to fund my project, I need your help.

I need AT LEAST $5000 to get started–so that I can do important things like rent a commercial kitchen & buy health permits & liability insurance. I also need to buy packing and shipping supplies, and pay for entry fees at my local farmers’ markets (not to mention the flour and sugar with which to make the cookies!).

Why should you donate? Because the sooner that I am able to get up and running, the sooner I’ll be able to figure out how to pack and ship my cookies to you!

Every dollar that you donate puts another cookie in the oven–and also gives me an oven to put them in! I’m not rolling in dough, but the sooner I have some funds, I can be rolling in cookie batter!

Please, please, please donate–even just a little bit will help! You can donate at my GoFundMe page–and, if you love my cookies, send the link to your friends, family, and distant Facebook acquaintances! I thank you so, so, so much, from the very bottom of my heart,

Love and Cookies,

KP

It’s All About the Process

So, I wanted to talk a little bit about making cookies.

Specifically, I wanted to talk about my process, and how I’ve finally, finally learned how to streamline it.

When it comes to baking, I used to be a haphazard everything-in-the-pantry-ends-up-spread-out-on-the-counter- and a if-it-wasn’t-in-the-recipe-I-won’t-touch-it-or-else type. A combination of the two can be lethal. I’ve learned over the past several years, however, that a good recipe is all in the deviation, and that a good day in the kitchen is one that’s organized and planned.

Sounds rather contradictory, no?

Sugary caramel meltaways!

Well, here’s how I bake cookies:

Step one: I do my research. I look at other peoples’ recipes and see what has worked for them. That often means hours (literally, hours) of surfing the internet, trying different search terms and reading every recipe that looks like it might be worth its salt (literally and figuratively) and then comparing the ingredients, the ratios, the results, and, when applicable, the reviews.

I ask myself, do I want chewy or crunchy? Puffy or flat? Rich or light? And then, after looking through the recipes, I start to write. I’ll have guides near me, like Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks or Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for More Food, since they go in depth into the science (chemistry and mechanics) of the craft. Maybe a recipe looks good on paper, but I have to consider the potential outcomes as well as the alternatives. Recipes aren’t written in stone, and often they get better when you use them as a guide but not a commandment.

Then it comes time to test. This is where it can get tedious and often messy (and expensive!). One way I’ve started to combat the tedious mess (and, in a very slight way, the financial piece, although I’m taking suggestions for making extra ingredients appear out of thin air…) is by using weights instead of volumes. In other words: instead of  spilling sugar all over my counter while trying to pack it into one of my 18 measuring cups or several bowls, I now use one bowl and a food scale. Not only are my measurements more accurate, I can pour all of my ingredients over one large bowl*, and I can do the clean up in less than 5 minutes while the cookies bake.

Using my grandmother's food scales to test a Peanut Apple Pretzel Cookie recipe

*I do use a small bowl to set the flax egg up at least 15 minutes before I start baking; the flax needs time to absorb the liquid before I can add it to the wet ingredients, so I do have a small second bowl to clean…

Weighing ingredients is also more cost effective, because I’m using the exact same amount of flour, sugar, etc etc in every single recipe. Using measuring cups is incredibly inaccurate; I can scoop 1 cup of flour 5 times, and get a different weight with each scoop, depending on how I pack the cup. With weights, I can, at the very least, budget my baking so I’ll know exactly how much flour I will get out of each bag.

Now, when it comes to the actual recipes, I go through several before I find the right one. A good example of this process can be found in my Divine Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, which took me a good four days to come up with and then test. Another is the last recipe I baked, the “More Than a Spoonful of Sugar” Caramel Meltaways. I’m still not 100% in love with the caramel recipe I used–I’m thinking of experimenting with coconut milk and oil to see if I get a richer flavor than using Soy creamer and vegan butter–but the cookie itself is exactly where I want it….and it only took me three tries!

Making caramel

Both the first and second recipes I made up came out too bready. The first recipe was similar to my Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I used oil instead of butter, and cornstarch as a thickener. My brother said that they tasted like pancakes (and then asked for me to pour maple syrup on them…).

Not so yummy pancake balls...

The second recipe was a complete deviation from my norm: I used soy milk in the recipe, but that thickened the dough to the point of un-stir-ability (and yes, that’s a word now.) They came out extremely dry, and the caramel seeped out of the bottom and adhered to the parchment paper.

Dry, dry, and dry...and all of the caramel melted out during baking!

The third recipe was exactly what I wanted–I eschewed the milks and the starches, and went for the simplest combination of ingredients–and it worked! Now I just have to tweak the caramels, and I’ll have another killer cookie to add to my arsenal.

Getting ready for the final test...

Speaking of which, now that I’m an official business, I’m going to work on not making killer cookies–i.e. I’m on my way to finding a good commercial kitchen and a health permit, as well as some good old fashioned insurance. Since I’m still small-time, I started a GoFundMe account. If you want to help get KP’s Cookies off the ground, I would really appreciate any and all donations–or, if you know friends who might like to help, I would love it if you could pass my link along to them. Frankly, the sooner I have all of the necessary business-and-health-permit stuff taken care of, the sooner I can focus on important things, like actually shipping my cookies to all of you who have requested such a service.

If you’d like to donate, please click HERE-and thank you, thank you, thank you in advance, from the bottom of my heart,

Love and Cookies,

KP

P.S. I totally just realized that The Bloggess has a post about The Process too…

More Than a Spoonful of Sugar Caramel Meltaways

I’d like to dedicate the following recipe to my friend Jen, who I’ve known about 8 million playground minutes (roughly translated, to those who speak grown-up, into 17 years). Why Jen? Because she’s my hero, plain and simple (PS, this post is going to get real wordy real quickly. There’s a picture of cookies at the bottom to reward the intrepid readers amongst you):

Two nights ago (for those of you on East Coast time…otherwise, it’s still two hours until yesterday…um, right. Moving on:), Jen proved (as she has, time and time again over the last several years), that it is fully possible to live your dream. Hokey? Absolutely. Doesn’t make it any less true.

Jen is the girl sitting right in the center & I'm on her right. Things haven't changed all that much since 1997!

I met Jen in a drama camp at the local JCC, where we became “orphan sisters” in the summer production of Annie. I was eight at the time, and she was nine–and already Jen was the ring leader of what would become an incredibly strong group of friends, (the inexplicably named) Tuna Fish Club.

Members of the Tuna Fish Club...I honestly don't know how that name happened.

Even at the ripe old age of nine, Jen loved theatre. And as the years passed, Jen made it pretty clear that it was her mission in life to work on Broadway, and to be the person whose words would transcend history with the story of drama in our time.

That’s a pretty heavy mission to carry around on nine year old shoulders, but Jen carried it–all the way to New York City, where she studied theatre and later fell in with a crowd of up-and-coming theatre hopefuls. With them, she made it to Broadway…and that was only the start.

Remember that time we "went to the Tony Awards" by standing awkwardly outside of Radio City for an hour?

About a year and a half ago (give or take), Jen and one of her friends started a small cabaret style theatre show called If It Only Even Runs A Minute, which revived forgotten musicals, and put them, and their stories back on stage. It was part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and it apparently turned a couple of heads. I say that, because two nights ago, Jen brought If It Only Even Runs A Minute 8 to Joe’s Pub–and for those of you in the know, that’s a really, freaking huge deal.

Why tell this story? And what does it have to do with cookies? Well, in my life, I’ve realized that there are three kinds of people: The people who have dreams that fall into their laps by way of luck, money, or magic; the people who sit around hoping their dreams will come true; and the people who actually just go out and make things happen.

Jen has always, always been one of the latter kinds of people. She’s been fearless in her pursuit of her goals, and now I’m firmly convinced that Jen is poised to become a theatre historian for our time, one of the definitive voices of our generation. I am so incredibly proud of her–and at the same time, I’m in awe of her courage. She is and always has been one of my heroes…and I’ve finally come to the point in my own career that I am ready to stop being a hoper and become a do-er like her.

I’ve realized that I cannot live fearlessly–but I can live courageously. I can do things, like pack up my life and move across the country. Or lease a car in my own name and start a new job. Or hop into a car I’ve never driven onto a highway that’s completely foreign and get to my destination without getting lost. Or walk into the Office of the Clerk-Reporter and fill out the form to declare my business official in Santa Clara Valley.

So, as of two days ago, KP’s Cookies is a real thing. I may not have any money, but I have a plan. And I’m looking forward to making my dreams come true–and I know they’ll run more than a minute.

I said all of that to set you up for the cookie to follow. I’ve called them “More Than a Spoonful of Sugar”* Caramel Meltaways. Jen, these are for you!

Love & Cookies,

KP

*This title only makes sense if you know musicals.** Or Julie Andrews. Or if you can’t stand musicals or Julie Andrews (which is none of you, because that’s obviously blasphemy) but just want to get literal (since there’s sugar in and around the cookie), then that works too…

**And, yes, I realize that Mary Poppins was a movie first. It still counts. Mainly because I thought about making a She Loves Me Vanilla Ice Cream Cookie, and the logistics of making a vegan, potentially shippable cookie made my head spin.

EDIT: If you would like to help me get KP’s Cookies off of the ground, please visit my GOFUNDME Page!