Friday, March 13, 2020

Sam's Mad Scientist Mode: Hawaiian Honeymoon Crinkle Cookies

This one's for you, Luke!

For our honeymoon, Luke and I went to Maui.  He had spent some time in Hawaii with his family when he was a kid, but I had never been to Hawaii before.  And our honeymoon was absolutely magical!  After 18 months of stressful wedding planning, suddenly the only decision we had to make each day was whether we were in the mood to be adventurous or to be pampered.  I have so many fond memories from that trip - hiking Haleakala at sunrise, discovering Ululani's shave ice (my go-to combo on that trip was wedding cake and cotton candy with a snow cap and macadamia nut ice cream), a rental car with a robot guide with a beautiful Hawaiian-accented voice built into it that we couldn't turn off who would cut into our conversation at odd intervals with historical facts about the part of the island we were passing at the time, nearly dying (twice) en route to the Dragon's Teeth, Ululani's shave ice, snorkeling (for the first time ever!), hiking a "hidden" trail in the Io Valley, getting Luke the bougiest chicken soup ever when he got sick (from Morimoto Maui, which happened to be our hotel's restaurant), photographing crabs at sunrise, the Hershey's-Kiss-studded lava cave and red Ti maze on the Road to Hana, the 30-foot-tall bamboo forest we hiked through, Ululani's shave ice, searching the entire island for a new camera when the above-mentioned crabs spooked me and I dropped my beloved camera in the sand and then finally convincing Cosco to sell us the most absurd, white-leather-encased replacement without opening a Cosco account, Ululani's shave ice...

Anyway, back to the story at hand.  Our honeymoon was wonderful.  We were finally truly alone, with no one asking questions and no one expecting to hear from us, and SO much Ululani's shave ice!  2019 was our fifth anniversary, so for my law school spring break, we decided to head back to Maui to celebrate.  This trip was equally wonderful, but also very different - jam-packed with exquisite meals, a wonderful luau, Luke indulging my desire to know the name of every single bird that flew by and even stopping at a book store with me to buy a book of Hawaiian birds...So when I came home, I knew I needed to invent a new cookie - one that would capture my memories of Hawaii and our adventures there.  I decided to create a Hawaiian Honeymoon Crinkle Cookie, with the beautiful purple hue and subtle taste of taro, macadamia nuts (I love you, Ululani's!), and a drizzle of icing to provide a hint of sweet and tangy guava.

I'll also note that taro is actually poisonous when it's not processed properly.  While I trust my skills in the kitchen, I'd rather not take risks like cooking with poison when I'm in Cookie Party mode!  So to avoid such risks, I decided to use a processed form of taro to make sure I could skip those first few steps and trust someone else to do the scary part.  I decided that taro pancake mix would be a pretty trustworthy starting point, and a few days later, Amazon delivered several bags of Mochi Taro Pancake Mix to my door.  My experiments last summer, aided by a friend who wanted to see my mad-scientist work in action, went swimmingly well - we ended up with a perfect crinkle cookie encasing a whole macadamia nut, exactly as I had pictured it.

But let's face it, folks - marriage is hard work.  So is inventing a new cookie.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to get things right, and sometimes things just go wrong.  The first hint of trouble in paradise was that the brand I used for my experiments last summer is currently on hiatus - they'll apparently be available again soon, but not in time for the Cookie Party.  Most of the other taro pancake brands I could find only need you to add water, unlike the one I had originally used, so my ratios would now be off and I would have to completely reinvent the cookie from scratch again, which is NOT something you want to be doing while also trying to fit thousands of cookies into a single week!  I did the best I could, but the ratios inevitably ended up being slightly off, and it turns out that I should have refrigerated this new modified dough for a couple of hours prior to baking.  The end result is that instead of being the round crinkle cookie I had imagined, these look more like the Hawaiian volcanoes - wide, shallow mounds with sloping sides.  However, the taste is still there and still brings me right back to Maui, so perhaps the volcano shape is its own version of perfect after all...

If you squint at it for a minute, you might see that I positioned
these cookies in the shape of a plumeria blossom...

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