This weekend I had a very distressing baking experience. I tried out a recipe for "Big, Soft Sugar Cookies with Strawberry Icing" from The All-American Dessert Book by Nancy Baggett. This cookbook has been sitting on my shelf unused for some time now, but I've had a lot of success with Baggett's All-American Cookie Book, and so I was optimistic. The dough for this cookie is slightly unusual; it includes both shortening and butter, as well as lemon zest, lemon extract, sour cream, and corn syrup. The dough needs to be refrigerated at least 6 hours before baking. The cookies did in fact come out big and soft, but I though they basically tasted like flour. The cookies are iced with a frosting of strawberries (run through the food processor and strained), lemon zest, powdered sugar, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. There is no food coloring in the icing; the fake-looking pink color is actually completely natural. I was very frustrated with the runny consistency of the icing (which didn't thicken despite my adding significant additional amounts of powdered sugar -- although thank goodness, at least it did set on the cookies overnight) and I thought that the strawberry flavor was not strong enough. Tom dissuaded me from throwing the entire batch of cookies in the trash, but I was extremely unhappy with the results and won't be bothering with this recipe again.
On the brighter side, I did have success with two recipes that have always been reliable performers. The Cappuccino Cream Cheese Fudge Cake from Lisa Yockelson's Baking By Flavor is always a big hit. This brownie has instant espresso powder in the batter, and is swirled with a mixture including cream cheese and chocolate chips. It is ultra-fudgy and quite hefty.
I also love the Cheddar Chive Scone recipe from epicurious.com. I think the secret to this recipe is to use really really good, sharp, cheddar. This scone smells amazing in the oven and bakes up beautifully golden brown and flecked with green specks of chive. It's savory and satisfying, with a light, crumbly texture.
All in all, not a bad baking weekend... You can't win them all!