Friday, January 25, 2008

Beacon Hill Cookies

I like to think of myself as fairly creative. Which is one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted an outlet to bake and take cool pictures and have cool posts like all the other food/baking blogs that I read. I was inspired and I thought... yeah, i can do that.

The problem is. I can't. I mean, yes, I physically can. But, my pictures suck. I've tried everything. I've tried the lightbox, I've tried the no flash, I've tried the natural light, nothing seems to work. And it's not just the lighting, it's the presentation as well. I know it's a work in progress, but sometimes I get discouraged by the lengthy amount of time that it takes to make any progress. Uggh. Sometimes I wonder if I need a new camera, but i like my camera and it takes good pictures. Except of baked goods.

Alright, well anyway, enough whining. I was just basically wanting to apologize to the few of you who actually read my blog. I'm sorry my pictures suck. But I appreciate you sticking with me. At some point, maybe it will just click and the pictures will magically become amazing!

Until then...

I am obsessed with Meringues. Like, literally obsessed. How can a cookie without flour or egg yolks be so incredibly chewy and tasty? I have no idea, but I love it! And not only are they delicious, they are so easy to make, too!

My mom brought me the book, 500 Cookies this weekend as a hostess gift. It's a cool book with a lot of pictures. I love cookbooks with pictures. Immediately, one cookie stuck out to me as I flipped through it. The Beacon Hill Cookie. It looked chocolatey and homey and bumpy. It looked awesome.

So, last night I decided to see what the ingredients were and see if I had them. Turns out, it's a meringue cookie! Which meant that I had to bake them right there on the spot. They came with a variation to put white chocolate chips in them, which I happened to have, so I did that.

Yum. Have I mentioned I'm in love with meringues? Okay, overkill... I know. I made a half a batch and came out with about 10 cookies.

Beacon Hill Cookies
from 500 Cookies by Phillippa Vanstone and Susannah Blake

5 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 superfine sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate, set aside to cool. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add one third of the sugar, beat for a further minute, then add one third more of the sugar. Beat until the whites are stiff, and fold in the remaining sugar.

Fold in the nuts, chocolate, vanilla, and white chocolate chips into the mixture.

Drop level teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets 1 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are cracked and firm to the touch. Life the parchment sheets onto wire racks and allow cookies to cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.


Jennifer said...

Amy, these cookies sound delicious! I think your pictures are fine. Trust me, the whole food photography thing takes time. Finding "your" way of taking pictures is not a quick process. At least, not for me. Now, my early posts look terrible. Don't give up! I so enjoy your blog!

Quinn said...

Oh, no! Don't despair.. it gets easier and more natural and definitely more fun. I've recently learned some amazing tricks with color correction and now when I look back at the thousands of pictures I've taken over the years that I thought were pretty now look lousy to me. The most important thing is to try to learn something from each picture you take that doesn't turn out the way you want it. Here are a few things that help me not feel bad about my pictures... I take zillions of shots and am really happy if I get one good one (bits are free, so no reason not to go shutter happy and experiment with different compositions and ideas). I'm not afraid of the "I'm feeling lucky" button in Picassa or other comparable buttons (auto levels in Photoshop, for example) -- these buttons have made some really dismal pictures I've taken look good. They don't always work, but they almost always help! It's not cheating in that it's making legitimate corrections to the image, things you could do with photoshop and substantial amounts of time and patience, it just does them for you quickly. All the really glorious photographs that you see online (or in print) have been adjusted in one way or another whether or not they were taken with a little pocket-sized camera or a big, heavy professional SLR. Anyway, sorry to go on and on.. it just broke my heart to read what you wrote and I hope you realize that people do read your blog and enjoy it!

Amy said...

Thanks, you guys! I know it's just going to take some time and practice, it just gets a little frustrating when you've taken 30 photos of something and none of them turn out right. I did discover this weekend though, that the best pictures are taken in the afternoon. So, if I could just get out of working for a living, I'd be able to take wayyy better photos, I think. :)

Thanks again for the pep talks!

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