Thursday, October 21, 2010

[Cookie 092] Sand Tarts


I tried. You know, I really did. I gave it the ol' yeoman's effort, as my high school math teacher would say. But when I put a bunch of hours worth of effort into producing a cookie that is sad, soft, and definitely NOT baked to golden perfection, I get a little disheartened.


It's become quite obvious by now that I've not been baking nearly as many cookies as I should be this semester. Living in Ghana means that chocolate is ridiculously expensive (despite the fact that this country exports some of the finest cocoa and chocolate products out there! But why sell it domestically when you can make more money abroad?), and nuts other than cashews and groundnuts (read: peanuts) are nearly impossible to find. And then there's the crazy oven with no temperature reading, and then there's the fact that I only have a 1/2 cup and 1 cup measure, no teaspoon measures, and no baking sheet, and no cookie cutters. I promise to stop whining about all of this, but I just gotta give some context/cover my ass, because these cookies are pretty shameful.


So let's have a run-through of how the baking of these Sand Tarts went. I got out the butter, and seeing as I'm living in AFRICA near the EQUATOR, it came to room temperature in about 20 seconds. Whip that up, add sugar and all that shit.


Measure out the flour in a measuring cup that of course doesn't fit inside the flour bag. So instead of doing something logical and pouring a bunch into a bowl and then measuring it, I pour the flour directly into the measuring cup and try to get it exactly right. And spill a bunch, DUH. Ugh. Okay, moving on…


Mix wet and dry ingredients and make: the most boring dough in the world. Oh, did I mention that I just didn't even add the lemon zest? Lemons are not really abundant here, so I was just like "EH! Who cares!" My tastebuds care, that's who. Oh well--punishment for ignorance, I suppose.


After refrigerating the dough for a while, it's time to roll it out. Oh wait! Guess who doesn't have a rolling pin! Never mind that, we just used a glass bottle (one that used to hold a bunch of delicious, delicious groundnuts…). Okay, so that works out decently. Now time to cut out circles with…a cup. Because I don't have a cookie cutter. Whatever! It still works! Awesome! Stick those babies on the "cookie sheet" which is really a roasting pan, which I'm pretty sure is one of the main factors that is fucking up the baking time of my cookies…


And then you have to get a hand print on your ass and pose for a picture looking like a complete...ass. I still can't figure out how that got there, considering it was my own hand. Awkward…I'll post a small picture to retain some shred of dignity.

Alright, so thus far nothing bad has really happened. It has just been an exercise in makin' in work! We bake up the first batch, and of course the oven burns the bottoms and doesn't toast the tops. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to fix this? Should I put a bain-marie underneath the tray in order to circulate heat? Ideas??

Here's the best part of this baking experience: about 2 minutes into the second batch WE RUN OUT OF GAS. Welcome to Africa. Arrggggasdflkajh! So I scrape off the warm blobs of uncooked dough, put them into a tupperware container, and then…voila, we have gas again. By this point I'm pissed off, so I quit. The cookies taste okay, but definitely not how they should.


Obviously, the main reasons that my cookies came out so poorly were because of my own situation, but I still think that the recipe itself is pretty boring. There's not really a dominant flavor, other than "sweet" and maybe a little bit "vanilla-y." I bet if they came out crisp and crunchy like they were supposed to, I might have liked them better, but alas. They did not. I ate them anyways. They were good with coffee. I mean Nescafe. No coffee here.

Fortunately, they make the deplorable Nescafe taste better, and the Nescafe makes the cookies taste better. And if you have a kitten mug, EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!


See the kitten cup in the background?!!? My favorite purchase I've made in Ghana. But still, the end result of the cookies is a little disappointing. I miss my oven.


Sand Tarts
Makes 2 dozen


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Sliced almonds, for decoration
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

  • Directions

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, and beat until light-colored.
  • Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest. Sift flour with salt, and add to butter mixture. Mix on low speed just until dough comes together. Wrap and chill for several hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk egg white and the water in a small bowl. Set aside. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with a 3-inch round cutter, and place on ungreased baking sheet. Brush with egg-white mixture, decorate with 3 sliced almonds, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven; allow to cool.

  • ****
    {End Results}
    Baking Difficultly: 2/5
    Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
    Tastiness: 2.5/5
    Attractiveness: 3.5/5
    Is it worth it?: I dunno...they are easy, but you could find a more interesting, tastier cookie that is just as simple to make.

    Drink: Nescafe (if you want to cry yourself to sleep)--otherwise, real coffee please.
    Song: Remember (Walkin' in the Sand) -- The Shangri-Las
    Activity: Eat these while at the beach, because they look like sand dollars...??


    ali said...

    I still can't believe you're even attempting to bake cookies in Ghana.

    (that was meant to be encouraging, not discouraging)

    Barbara E said...

    We are going to do some serious baking when you come home!

    Anonymous said...

    I'm curious... Why exactly are you living in Ghana? I'm tempted to send you nuts, chocolate, measuring spoons, etc...

    Trisha said...

    I just happened to stumble upon your blog today and I love the fact that u'r still baking inspite of lack of ingredients and equipment. To some extent i know what u'r going through. I live in India, where we can purchase some basic equipment like measuring spoons but i guess thats where it ends ;) Its really difficult, if not impossible, to source most of the ingredients and equipment needed for a lot of the recipes.
    But seriously u should be proud of what u've achieved with your baking, you know it can only get better. Good job, i'll be visiting u'r blog often.

    Peggy said...

    Just the fact that you're still making cookies in Ghana is commending enough!

    easy picnic recipes said...

    wow! what a delicious recipe! I just love it :)

    Recipes of Gulzar said...


    Great recipe in this post and there is not really a dominant flavor, other than sweet and maybe a little bit vanilla-y.

    Zubaida tariq cooking show said...


    Great information in this post and I think there is not really a dominant flavor, other than "sweet" and maybe a little bit "vanilla-y." I bet if they came out crisp and crunchy like they were supposed to, I might have liked them better, but alas.