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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mayonnaise in Unexpected Places








As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had the good fortune to buy mayonnaise at a super-bargain price; since I don't usually use this for sandwiches, salads, or really anything else, I started exploring how else I might be able to use my purchase. The natural place for me to start was a chocolate mayonnaise cake, as I had memories of hearing about this in my childhood. My adaptation is here: http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2014/05/an-old-fashioned-recipe-with-great.html

When the cake turned out to be a great success, I decided to try for more, related uses. First were these Double Chocolate Cookies (http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2014/05/double-chocolate-cookies-made-with.html), a cake-like cookie that has received high praise from most of my "testing panel." However, for those prefer either chewy or crisp cookies, these still didn't fit the "must have" category. With lots of mayonnaise still in the jar (this was the two quart size after all), it was time for more experimentation.

As usual, I started with an internet search and, as usual, didn't find anything that exactly fit my thoughts. However a little tweaking and research on the chemistry of cookies and I ended up with a wonderful recipe for "Snickerdoodles" that could become a go-to activity for the grandkids this summer. I also adapted an old family recipe  to include mayo instead of oil, along with a few other adjustments for a new take on chocolate chip cookies. I'll be posting that recipe separately.

For now, here are a few of the reasons why I would encourage you to consider mayonnaise-based cookies:

  • Cost--the following recipe includes neither eggs nor butter. If you buy mayonnaise when it is on special (which is often the case during these summer-picnic-foods-weeks), it could come in at as little as half the cost of the original version.
  • Convenience--even if you are like me and don't keep prepared mayonnaise available for salads or sandwiches, having a jar on the shelf or in the refrigerator makes a good "emergency" ingredient when you are out of eggs or butter.
  • Food safety--okay, I will admit that I don't worry as much as I probably should about letting the kids taste the cookie or cake batter before it is cooked. However, with mayonnaise-based baked goods that don't have eggs, the cookie dough is fine for sampling without those raw egg worries.
  • Kid friendly--each of the recipes I have tried have been easily prepared, and these Snickerdoodles are especially recommended for kids. The dough is almost play-dough consistency, so the frustrations of sticky hands or crumbly plops of dough are non-existent.
  • Nutrition? Okay, let's remember: cookies are not on the menu as a basic high-nutrition food. That said, there is a little lower fat proportion in mayo when subbed for butter or oil, and the fats you should find in your "real mayo" ingredients list will be oils without any trans fats. 

There are, of course, some caveats:

  • Mayonnaise-based recipes are NOT egg-free! If you avoid eggs for allergies or vegan reasons, these recipes are not for you. "Eggless" in the recipe means just that you don't have to provide your own eggs.
  • If you are not crazy about soybean oil, you will either have to find a brand that doesn't include this (which my admittedly limited research has not found) or avoid these recipes.
  • Though I haven't been able to detect any "mayonnaise flavor" in finished cookies (nor have any of my tasters), I still like to include enough added flavor ingredients (cinnamon here, and spices and chocolate or chocolate chips in others) to be sure any off-flavor.

I have been using Costco's Kirkland brand in these recipes. Their ingredients list is pretty short, with few additives I would be uncomfortable with. While some of the other sites that have mayo-containing recipes do use low-fat or even fat-free mayo or Miracle Whip-type salad dressing, these usually have the kinds of ingredient lists I prefer to avoid. 

But enough of the kitchen-y talk. Let's get to the recipe. These little cookies are so easy to make and so uniformly desired by sweet-eaters, why not stir up a batch today!

Easy, Easy Snickerdoodles

1 c sugar
1 c mayonnaise
1 t vanilla
 2 c flour
1 t soda
1 t cinnamon
Topping 
1/3 c sugar
1 t cinnamon (or more if desired)

1.  Beat the sugar, mayonnaise, and vanilla together until completely mixed and smooth.
2.  Sift the flour, soda, and cinnamon together and add to the mayonnaise mixture. Stir just until well blended.
3.  Form the dough into balls about the size of large walnuts. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
4.  Mix the Topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Dip a flat-bottomed glass into the topping and then use the glass to flatten a cookie to about 1/3 inch or so. (The first time you dip the glass, you may need to moisten the glass VERY slightly, just to get the sugar and cinnamon to cling to the glass.) Repeat for each cookie, dipping the glass each time.











 5.  Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees, until they are golden and pop back when touched lightly with a finger.
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Quick update: One of my "testers" used a different brand of mayo and found the dough to be crumbly and dry. It may be that the moisture content may differ among mayonnaise brands. If you have the same problem, you can sprinkle a teaspoon or so of water over the dough and mix it in with your hands, adding just enough to get back to that "play dough" consistency. Would love to get other feedback on YOUR results--just add a comment below. Thanks


Variations:
  • Instead of using the glass to apply the Topping, you can roll each ball of dough in the Topping mixture before flattening. This will result in each cookie having a little more of the sugary coating.
  • For holidays--or just "for special"--use colored sugars instead of the sugar cinnamon mix for topping the cookies.




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