Last weekend, my friend Soffia and I competed in the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown, a cookie competition held at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. To compete, all you have to do is bake 250 cookies, and show up to the venue and hand them out. Not too bad, right? Um…yea – easy, except that it’s 250 cookies (think 20 dozen cookies!). These were to be made in my tiny, tiny kitchen that lacks a stand up mixer. That’s right people, everything you’ve seen on this site to date is made with the use of my handy-dandy (pun intended) handheld mixer.
Because the competition was held the week after Thanksgiving, and both Soffia and I were traveling for the holiday, we had to come up with the recipe remotely. We collaborated over e-mail, shared recipe ideas, and messengered cookies to each other’s offices so we could taste test (only in New York would you pay someone to deliver a paper bag full of cookies on-demand, right?). We used our colleagues as
guinea pigs taste testers, and they were happy enough to try more than 5 different types of cookies over the course of a week. (I only got a few grumblings for being a cookie pusher, no big deal.)
We decided we wanted to do a boozy theme (because what’s better than baking with bourbon?), and picked an alcohol-infused version of Bon Appétit’s Chewy Molasses Cookies. But while the cookie was incredibly tasty (if I do say so myself), we didn’t know if it was show-stopping. Soffia suggested we sandwich them with an Italian Meringue Bourbon Buttercream, and I knew immediately that they would be a winner.
While I knew they’d be delicious, I did have concerns with the recipe: (1) the amount of cookies we needed to bake just doubled to 500! and (2) anytime I’ve tried to make a meringue buttercream I’ve failed miserably and sobbed into the curdled goo. But I wanted to win, so we agreed to make the sandwich cookies, and Soffia very generously offered to make the buttercream. Thanks to my clever friend David, we named our cookie the “Drunken Debbie”, since it was sort of like a grown up version of a Little Debbie, but slightly alcoholic and significantly more delicious.
The competition was on Sunday, and Saturday happened to be a whirlwind of events: my parents were in town for brunch, and a friend’s afternoon birthday party soon became an all-day event, so by the time I got back to my apartment it was well after 10pm. Slightly tipsy (it seemed fitting since we were making boozy cookies), I set about making my share, some 360+. After a few incidents – a minor burn and a tray of cookies falling onto the bottom of the oven, causing the entire apartment to fill with smoke and our smoke alarm going off at 1am – I successfully baked 30 dozen, bourbon molasses cookies. I slept well that night, that’s for sure.
The next morning, Soffia came over to ice and assemble the cookies. She brought the 4 pounds of buttercream she had made, which had been refrigerated over night and just needed a little whip from a mixer to get it up to room temperature and return it to it’s light and fluffy consistency. Problem was, I only had the hand held mixer. As soon as Soffia started mixing the buttercream, it immediately separated and looked like the curdled mess I was used to. We had hope though, and my resourceful boyfriend, Jordan, went to a friend’s apartment to borrow her KitchenAid as a last ditch effort. It really felt like we were in the finale of Top Chef, pulling out all the stops. Luckily, after a few minutes in a proper mixer, the icing came back together, and it was everything we wanted it to be: boozy, fluffy, sweet and absolutely delicious.
We made a mad rush to finish sandwiching all of the cookies, packed them up and raced to the event, where we arrived with 5 minutes to spare. There were 30 teams at the event, with cookies ranging from shortbreads, to chocolate chip, to a clever takes on s’mores. Over 250 people attended the competition, and everyone voted for their favorite. I am super excited to say that our Drunken Debbie won 1st place people’s choice, with almost 50 votes!!! All the hard work and collaboration paid off, we were cookie champions!!
The best part: the 1st place prize was a KitchenAid Stand Mixer!!!! Everything comes full circle, huh? Soffia said it was fate, and since she already had her own, I am now happy to say that I am the proud owner of a beautiful, light blue KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I can’t wait for all the things I’m going to make with this sexy, sexy piece of equipment.
Note: This recipe is relatively involved, after all we needed to step up our game since it was a competition. While the icing really takes this cookie to the next level, I think the cookies are perfectly delicious on their own, and are worth making even if you don’t have time for the meringue buttercream. The buttercream for the recipe will make more than you need, but it freezes well (for up to a month), so store it until you’re ready for your next bourbon baking concoction. Cookies adapted from Bon Appétit; Buttercream from my friend Soffia Yen For the cookies: INGREDIENTS RECIPE For the Bourbon Italian Meringue Buttercream INGREDIENTS: RECIPE:
Bourbon Molasses Cookies with Bourbon Buttercream (a.k.a the Drunken Debbie)
Note: This recipe is relatively involved, after all we needed to step up our game since it was a competition. While the icing really takes this cookie to the next level, I think the cookies are perfectly delicious on their own, and are worth making even if you don’t have time for the meringue buttercream. The buttercream for the recipe will make more than you need, but it freezes well (for up to a month), so store it until you’re ready for your next bourbon baking concoction.
Cookies adapted from Bon Appétit; Buttercream from my friend Soffia Yen
For the cookies:
For the Bourbon Italian Meringue Buttercream