I feel a cookie recipe coming on, perhaps more than one. I've been looking over a few different ones, including a five-second glance at a colorful one in a defunct magazine. Ever heard of "Budget Living"? Apparently it was targeted at folks that like to pinch pennies but like to avoid feeling pinched themselves. I'm sorry I never knew it existed until years after its demise, but like many a life-long penny pincher, I don't subscribe to magazines. Perhaps, oh perhaps, that's part of why the magazine did not do well?
What are some of the annoying penny-pinching, earth-saving, morally-superior (vegan?) things that you do?
I research how to cook carrot leaves, beet stems, potato peelings and other veggie scraps so that I might even really enjoy eating them. I wash and save my produce bags and take them back to the store or farmers' market for the next round of veggies. I save and reuse twist-ties until they crumble into bits. Corks get tucked into the handles of all-metal pots and lids to that I can pick them up without a hot pad. We don't have food-scrap collection here, but I hope it'll show up soon! (Without a yard, composting is just a dream.) I do the freecycle thing, I barter when possible, and I try not to buy new things at all. Textiles go from being clothing to becoming functional cloth bags to becoming rags to becoming stuffing for pet toys or whatever. I'm also the one that waters down the shampoo or dish soap with extra water when it gets low.
Much of this would drive my friends/relatives batty if they lived with me, but I'm just obnoxious this way. I keep thinking that every little bit counts.
How on earth does this relate to cookies?
Well, there are a few recipes in Swedish culture that are great for using up a stash of cake or cookie crumbs. Yep, I save crumbs. All pastry and bread crumbs that are mild in flavor go in a little bag in the freezer, and when I get enough, I make sweets called Dammsugare (a.k.a. vacuum-cleaner tubes). Here's a picture for you from the good folks at flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tifty/114802890/
Now, the person that took that shot also mentions that it can be called punschrulle, but you can make it with or without the "punch" of alcohol. If you like rum and chocolate, try that. I suspect that Frangelico or Brandy & Benedictine would be nicer with the cocoa and almond paste, though.
Here's one of many recipes out there that can easily be veganified. Turn off the oven, since this sweet is 'fridge intensive. If you get tired in the middle of this project, just roll it into balls and roll the balls in chopped nuts, cocoa powder, coconut flakes, cake decorating bits, whatever. (I know you'll just eat eat it with a spoon and pass out in a diabetic coma, but let us pretend.)
This is just a staring point, since your chosen fat, crumbs, sweetener and cocoa will all change the texture and taste enough that it'll be different every time. By the way, this is in U.S.A. goofy measures. Once my new scale arrives, I'll write it up by weight instead.
Vacuum Cleaner Tubes (or Monster Fingers, or Mad Swede Snacks, or Dammsugare)
--1/2 cup of solid fat
into a medium-sized bowl. I'd advise something buttery-tasting that isn't too salty and yes, this sweet will be bad for you.)
Then sift in
--1/4 cup powdered sugar
--3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
Then drizzle in
--1 teaspoon vanilla extract
or some other flavor that makes you happy with nuts and chocolate.
Mix this up until it is creamy and fluffy. If you go too fast at the beginning, you'll make a sugar-cloud mess in the kitchen, so start slowly! It should smell very nice.
--1+1/2 cups of crumbs
You'll have to wing it here. Depending on the crumbs & fat, you'll use more or less to make a sandy/buttery paste.
Now you can add the yummy
--flavored alcohol to taste
or a bit of some other extract.
Taste a little and add more crumbs, cocoa, sugar, whatever. Cover it and throw it in the 'fridge for about an hour, or at least a half hour.
At this point, you can roll it into balls as discussed above, or continue on.
--1/2 pound marzipan
--green food coloring
Mix them together until you have an evenly colored paste. You can do whatever color you want, but green looks nice with chocolate. Slap down some parchment paper and roll the colored paste out into a even thin layer, maybe thicker than 1/8th inch, but thinner than 1/4 inch? You can use more powdered sugar to help roll it out if it sticks, but I like to slap more parchment on top and roll the paper/paste/paper sandwich instead. Trim it into a rectangle and save the scraps to be rolled out again. Put all of the paste aside in a cool place. (I actually use some thin flexible cutting mats in place of parchment, but parchment will be easier for your first time around.)
Now get your chilled crumb mixture and roll it into ropes or cylinders on another parchment sheet. Something of (ick) a fat hot dog diameter will work pretty well. Do this in little batches, or you may go crazy. Cut into lengths of 3 inches or the length of your middle finger. Just try to make them all the same. Put 'em back in the fridge (not touching) if they have gotten melty.
(This next part is easier than it sounds. Go see a picture of the treat, and you'll get an idea of what we're trying to do.)
To figure out how to cut your marzipan sheet to fit your crumb-tubes take two or three of your crumb-tubes and place along the top edge of your marzipan sheet. Place the crumb-tubes almost end to end like an (ick) sausage link and use a knife or pizza cutter to notch the marzipan between the links. Use a ruler or bravely cut straight down about 3 inches on the marzipan sheet. Roll the tube in the marzipan blanket and cut down more if you need more blanket to completely cover the crumb-tube. Make another perpendicular cut to free the little marzipan blanket from the big sheet of marzipan. Unroll it and get an idea of the measure. Do this two or three more times and get an average measure & then cut all your little blankets to those dimensions.
If you aren't sure that your crumb-tubes are all the same dimensions, you can cut blankets for each one individually. Roll all the tubes in the little blankets and place seam-side down. Chill again for a few minutes (not touching) if it all seems too melty. If you are like me, you'll roll out the marzipan scraps to cover any naked crumb-tubes, and then roll the leftover crumb mixture into balls as mentioned above. Chill that stuff, too.
Meanwhile, gently melt
--some dark or semi-sweet chips
over a double boiler or in the microwave. (If you've never done this before, google it. There are plenty of tips on how to do it without scorching.) Fetch your tubes-in-a-blanket and dip the ends into the melted chocolate, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch up both ends of the tubes is fine. Again, take a look at the picture. Place on parchment to cool and harden the chocolate. Chill for longer storage, serve cold or close to room temp.
Make some very strong, very good coffee and invite some friends over to talk and eat these with you. Do not go it alone! I don't want to have to rush over to your place to try to revive you if you eat too many by yourself.