When I started to journey around the world (of cake), I got a lot of pleasant emails letting me know that they would love to travel and eat baked goods with me. I felt very popular. For a few seconds. Then came the onslaught of questions - the majority of which was asking me whether or not I had already picked a cake to make for the United States. There were tons of suggestions, some of which I've never even heard of (re: Smith Island Cake). These emails made me nervous. We've got an awful lot of Yankie readers - what happens if I make the wrong cake?
So, I decided to give you southerners a bit of ego boost. Yes, you guys have fifty crazy microcosms, each boasting it's own unique flavour spectrum. Yes, we could go on and on about all the different desserts you have to offer. I guess it's time to give you guys your own little journey.
The journey around THE UNITED COOKIES OF AMERICA!
So, as we journey around the world, we'll make sure to take a few (re: fifty) stops in America. Each stop with highlight a state's own unique cookie/brownie/bar/anything that isn't cake and/or pie. I've got a good handle on the American scene (a couple of cross-country car trips in a little Mazda will do that), but I'm always willing to hear your suggestions via the comment box and email.
So, let's get a move on the first American treat:
I first visited Vermont as a child. This little butterball couldn't wait to walk into the state's own sugar mecca - The Ben and Jerry's Factory. The visit, however, did not live up to the hipe. My immature mind had pictured a giant castle of Willy Wonka-like proportions, with Chunky Monkey flowing from the fountains and Cherry Garcia running from the walls. You can see how going to a short concrete building with a couple cows roaming outside would disappoint a kid. I don't even think we bought any ice cream that trip - and my free sample was probably the size of a golf ball. As far as I was concerned, Vermont could suck it.
Until, aways down the road, we stopped at a small red barn hidden behind a forest of maples. When we got out of the car, I was greeted with an amazing smell - the thick odour of pure maple syrup tangling with a dash of cinnamon. Finally, I was in dessert heaven. This little barn happened to be famous for it's cider, syrup, donuts, and - best of all - it's oatmeal. Forget Wheaties, my friends, because this stuff was truly the breakfast of champions. The warmth of it, especially on a brisk fall day, left a deep sunny feeling in your chest. The maple syrup was not overpoweringly sweet, but had a full and well-rounded flavour that one could only fetch straight from the tree.
Baking a cookie to recreate this visit was a must. Forget about those ice cream guys - This little red barn is truly the Vermont Experience.
Best Thing about Vermont:
Montpelier is the only U.S. state capital without a McDonald's (and, until 1996, it was the only capital without a Walmart - Fight the Man!)
Worse Thing about Vermont:
It's too close to New Hampshire (I kid - sort of)
Why Should I Visit?
Besides the maple syrup, you mean? This place is truly the Canada of New English. In a totally groovy way.
Why Should I Not Visit?
Google Image Search "Moose vs. Car"
Got a Cookie Recipe for Us?
I surely do!
Vermont Maple Oatmeal Cookies
Makes just over one dozen large cookies
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/3 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup good quality maple syrup
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon maple extract (vanilla will do in a pinch)
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1) Preheat oven to 300F. Combine oats, coconut, flour, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
2) Put the butter, maple syrup and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over a light heat. Stir lightly until the butter melts, then remove from heat.
3) Stir the baking soda into the boiling water until dissolve. Add to the syrup mixture, stirring well. Add your extract and then stir into dry ingredients. Add the pecan pieces and stir well.
4) Place 1/4 cup sized scoops onto your baking sheets. Make sure they're at least 3 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.
5) Bake 18 to 20 minutes, making sure you rotate half way through. Take out when golden brown and set and cool for at least 5 minutes. Get a big glass of milk and enjoy warm.
Journey Around the United Cookies of America