A Little Disappointed in Betty   

We’re entering that time of year when we yearn for comfort foods, sign up for cookie exchanges with colleagues and friends, and spend more time at home, reading great books and catching up on our viewing pleasures that we got behind in on the hot days of summer.

For me, nothing accompanies a good read like tea or hot chocolate and a home baked cookie or two. Seeing the latest by Betty Crocker, “Cookies : irresistibly easy recipes for any occasion” on the library’s new book display, I thought “Perfect!” and checked it out.

A bit about Betty Crocker. First, did you think she was a real person? She was/is not. Betty Crocker is a brand created in 1921 following a contest in the Saturday Evening Post. In 1936 a portrait of this fictional character was commissioned for advertising. In 1954, General Mills switched to the red spoon logo, still used today, which gave various food-related items the “Betty Seal of Approval.” On television and radio broadcasts, Betty Crocker was portrayed by several actresses. The first Betty Crocker cookbook was published in 1930 and since then there have been over 250 (!) cookbooks under the Crocker name.

Cookies looked like a nice cookbook at first glance. Lots of glossy photos, “know how” pages with helpful tips on measuring, storing, cool baking sheets vs hot, ingredients and more. On page 26 there’s also a fun timeline about cookie trends since the 1960s.

I decided it would be nice to bake something different, so skipped past delicious-but-everyday chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal. The second chapter had lots of tempting-looking cookies but I was dismayed to find so many began with “start with a mix”. I’m a scratch baker and really can not remember buying a mix. If you’re baking with kids or perhaps are a novice, these recipes might be just perfect for you but I kept on browsing.

I finally settled on Iced Limoncello Cookies. With the surprising amount of snow we received earlier in November and frigid temperatures, I decided these would provide a taste of summer. The batter recipe was very simple and the cookies came out like little cakes. The icing also straightforward. While the method was easy and the cookies a nice, fluffy, cake-like texture, they were very bland. It was difficult to even tell they were lemon!

Moving along, the second recipe I tried (and brought in to the library to share with coworkers…they are great guinea pigs, I mean people with discerning palates) was Cinnamon Maple Crinkles.

If you’re part of a cookie exchange, there are lots of easy, big batch bakes that would be just perfect and this was one of those recipes.  Oddly, the maple cookies do not have maple in them aside from 1 tsp maple extract. I didn’t have any so substituted the REAL thing, about 3 tsp. The dough came together easily and the cookies smelled wonderful when baking. They were thick, chewy and went beautifully with a mug of hot chocolate. However. They were just good. Not bad, but not a rave either. Did I enjoy them, sure. Would I make them again, probably not.

So, Betty, you kind of let me down this time. Cookies a nice-looking cookbook and I’d say is geared towards a less experienced baker (especially with all of those mixes involved), one with limited time or maybe for baking with kids. For me, if I’m baking (and eating!) cookies, I want them to be a great. Something to remember. And this book and the resulting cookies just weren’t that.

  • Sandi H.

Cinnamon Maple Sugar Crinkles

1 ½ c. packed brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 tsp maple extract*
2 eggs, room temperature
3 ¼ c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2/3 c white sparkling sugar OR 1/3 c granulated white sugar
½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large mixing bowl beat the brown sugar, butter and maple extract on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth. On low, add flour, powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together white sugar and nutmeg.

For each cookie, shape dough into 1 ½ inch balls. Roll in nutmeg sugar. Set on prepared baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Remove from oven. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

*I used 3 tsp of REAL maple syrup instead of extract and it worked just fine