Test Cook’s Report – Rue McClanahan’s Wonder Women

I had problems when I made these cookies.  Not problems in my life, problems with the cookies.  They were really tasty, but very floppy.  I blamed my oven, haha!  Two things made me laugh reading that post from August 2016.  Firstly I’d just got a new oven.  The electrician sent round by my landlord to replace my oven about a month ago said something like, “You break a lot of ovens don’t you?” It seems I do.  Every 18 months or so.  Plus, I’d just bought an ice-cream maker on impulse.
 
 
 
Have I used it?  No. 
 
I was pleased to hear from two test cooks that it wasn’t just me who had trouble with these cookies.  Rue McLanahan’s recipe for these “Wonder Women” cookies does indeed make for a very soft cookie, so you might want to follow KSB’s advice as follows, “The dough was too soft so I added 1/2 c. more of both the oatmeal and the flour. It was still too soft so I chilled it in the fridge for 30 minutes.” KSB said that also, she “would personally cut back on the sweetness by 1/2 c. as well.”  Yes, for the modern palate, and knowing what we know now about sugar, this is a good idea.  Another tip from KSB is to bake the cookies on parchment paper, this enables you to, “just slide the paper off the tray and not have to move the cookies too much before they were set.”  Yes, I wish I’d thought of that!  Thanks KSB. all the way across the pond in Michigan. 
 
 
Loving this 1980s pic of Rue
 
My fellow film archivist Margie in Athens, Georgia sent a “live” report of how her cookies went down when she took a batch into work. “Rue’s cookies are disappearing from the staff room here. I’ve had several “Those cookies are good!” comments, though nothing astonishing or outstanding. But there are only 2 left out of about 15 I brought in. So no one is really going into detail. My boss thought the ingredient list made them sound blech, but she likes them.”
 
This, my dear readers, was the first time I’d heard the word “blech” and I love it.  I learn so much from my test cooks!
 
MUST get hold of “The Rotten Apple”
 
A later email from Margie expounded a bit, “These taste great! The apricots really do “make” them! Tasting the cookie dough, I found the wheat germ flavor a bit strong, but once baked, that diminished greatly. They are definitely soft, but I think that is in their favor. I wouldn’t want these to be crunchy.I used a good quality aluminum baking sheet and parchment paper instead of greasing the sheet. I get tired of cleaning up cookie sheets and parchment is so easy to use. My cookies did not spread much at all. I used Plugra unsalted butter and King Arthur whole wheat flour and Kretschmer wheat germ. I used Trader Joe’s Blenheim Variety Slab Apricots which are my favorite dried apricots of all time (and I’ve been an apricot lover since I was a tiny child). I reduced the number of raisins, and now that I see how great the apricots taste in these, I would raise the apricot amount to an overflowing 1 C. instead of what was probably fairly light 1 C. of apricots (because I got tired of chopping/slicing). I used dark brown sugar, though it was lighter than most dark brown sugar I usually see, so perhaps there was less molasses in it, ergo, less spreading of the cookies?? There’s a nice caramel flavor to the cookies.”
 
I’d like to think that’s a real tattoo
 
Margie supplied some process pics, which I love.  Really shows how things, like tweaking the temperature and thinking about where you put your trays in the oven, can affect the look of your cookies.

“First sheet: I baked them at 375F for 10 minutes in an electric oven (no fan),”

“then checked them at 10 mins. and thought they looked a little underdone, so I put them back in for 4 minutes and then the bottoms looked a bit overdone, though not burned.”

“The sheet is in the upper 1/3 of the oven, so having them get so brown on the bottom may be down to the brown sugar and the honey, not the proximity to the lower heating elements. The height of the rack didn’t seem to affect the top of the cookies getting done/overdone. Maybe my aluminum sheet gets too hot. Hmmmm….  I don’t use non-stick cookie sheets because I think the dark surface overcooks everything. I always use aluminum pans.”

“Second sheet:  I baked them for 12 minutes. The tops still look too underdone but the bottoms were dark again.”

“Not as dark as 14 mins., but enough to make me think the brown sugar and honey are doing this. Maybe 350F would be better than 375F.”

“So for the last sheet (14 cookies), I opened the oven door, moved the temperature down to 350, and then put in the cookies. And I forgot to set the timer! But since I have all this experience in figuring out that the cookies are done, I’m not worried. I’m just keeping an eye on them. … Nope, still pretty much the same brown on the bottom!”

“But I think the tops looked better at 350F. I think you could say bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.”

I loved Margie’s email sign off – “XO! Margie/Jeanne” – this is because, in the early days of my blog, everyone had movie star pseudonyms.  I was Lya de Putti,

Margie was Jeanne, after Jeanne Crain I think…

Margie made 40 cookies from Rue’s recipe using a heaped tablespoon of dough for each.  That’s a lotta cookies!

Finally, this bit of brilliance, “I followed the recipe exactly except that I used 3/4 C. raisins instead of 1 C. And I used golden raisins as an homage to The Golden Girls!”

Thank you KSB and Margie, I feel more confident about this recipe now.

If I lived in the USA and I was rich, I would send a batch of these cookies to each and every one of my test cooks.  I don’t actually KNOW them all personally, but I still say this…

Whoever is behind Semi Sweet Designs is a genius.

I’m still fiddling with Rue’s recipe for the Columbo cookbook, but if you’d like to try the recipe in the meantime, please send me a message via the Contact page.

GO WONDER WOMEN!

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