The Cookies That Looked Like Dog Poo

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I was recently gifted the “Tartine” cookbook; a gorgeous hardcover book with an introduction by Alice Waters and pictures that make you want to lick the page. Those who remember my trip to San Francsico will remember my trip to Tartine (click here) and the delightful frangipane tart I enjoyed.

From that same post, you may recall this picture:

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Those towering wizard hats are almond rochers–a simple meringue flavored with chopped almond that’s piped into a tower and baked until crisp. It’s precisely the cookie I wanted to attempt for my first Tartine cookbook recipe. And the result is precisely the cookie you see at the top of this post.

“Try this cookie,” I said to Craig when he came home and I offered him the tray.

“It looks like dog poo,” he responded.

It was true: my meringue towers never rose as grandly as those frosty traffic cones in the case at Tartine. Worse, they didn’t really taste that great. Granted, they were slightly burned on the bottom from a crusty old cookie sheet:

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Craig took one bite and put it back on the tray and asked for ice cream. This was not a happy conclusion.

I’d end the story there, in a fit of despair, but happily the next day I bought Meyer lemons at Union Market and made my Hessa Meets Contessa lemon bars:

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Zesty and bright and looking nothing like dog poo, my lemon bars flushed all bad memories of my failed almond rochers away.

26 comments

  1. The lemon bars look delish. I used to burn the bottoms of all my cookies until invested in a thermometer for the oven (found my oven was consistently 100’F over what the knob said) and started using parchment paper. Now I don’t worry how gunky my cookie sheets look (or are) because the extra layer of parchment insulates them and they turn out perfect every time.

    Love your blog!

  2. Don’t worry, you’re not the first to be felled by the tartine cookbook. I live in San Francisco and often brave the lines at tartine for their crazy-good pastry. I’ve just started baking this year, and when I came across the cookbook, thought I was up to the challenge. All I did was read the rocher recipe and I put the book back on my bookshelf and backed away slowly.

    I did, however, make the buttermilk scones and the gougeres, which came out perfectly. I’m stepping it up next time and making a cake, damn it.

  3. Don’t worry, you’re not the first to be felled by the tartine cookbook. I live in San Francisco and often brave the lines at tartine for their crazy-good pastry. I’ve just started baking this year, and when I came across the cookbook, thought I was up to the challenge. All I did was read the rocher recipe and I put the book back on my bookshelf and backed away slowly.

    I did, however, make the buttermilk scones and the gougeres, which came out perfectly. I’m stepping it up next time and making a cake, damn it.

  4. Those really do look like dog poo. But the lemon bars really look great, and I’m one for a lemon bar over a cookie any day. I have faith that one day the poo will rise for you.

  5. Tis the season for lemon bars! I made Meyer Lemon bars myself this weekend… and boy are they scrumptious! I’ll take a lemon bar over a dog pie any day. :)

  6. Adam,

    I love your writing, and I love your sense of culinary courage in trying new things (which is truly an inspiration to me), but Adam, you need a stylist for your food presentation. Or something.

    First, break down and buy yourself a nice new cookie sheet. That’ll take care of some of the burn issues.

    Second, continue breaking down and set those lovely scrumptious lemon bars on a really nice plate. After all that work, those bars deserve to sit on a nice piece of china. Really. You deserve it, too. Think of it as advancing civilization, a refinement of all we love about cooking and eating.

  7. Adam,

    I love your writing, and I love your sense of culinary courage in trying new things (which is truly an inspiration to me), but Adam, you need a stylist for your food presentation. Or something.

    First, break down and buy yourself a nice new cookie sheet. That’ll take care of some of the burn issues.

    Second, continue breaking down and set those lovely scrumptious lemon bars on a really nice plate. After all that work, those bars deserve to sit on a nice piece of china. Really. You deserve it, too. Think of it as advancing civilization, a refinement of all we love about cooking and eating.

  8. Margo, Adam– I too live close to Tartine and brave the long-ass line because unless someone has trained your ass as a pastry-chef… making things out of that book is just not going to happen! I give you some serious props for giving it a whirl though!

    Erin

  9. My wife ran a commercial kennel supplying the Northern Arkansas restaurant trade for many years.

    These DO look very familiar.

  10. i actually also got the tartine cookbook as a gift and attempted the gougeres a while back. mine tasted great but also did not puff up – instead of big airy globes, they were little cheesy UFOs. i think the recipes in that cookbook are pretty tricky but i’m not giving up yet! i have my eyes set on the rochers recipe next… wish me luck!

  11. The first picture made me laugh out loud!

    The second made me pucker up!

    Delightful post – thank you – as always.

  12. dog poo? they look like nipples to me

    The wizard hats look like little dried mounds of plaster. At least the doggie poo cookies look organic.

    The lemon bars look yums though….hmmm lemon

  13. oh dear! hehe

    Do you know last month I made meringue mushrooms and had the same problem with the burnt meringues. After much cursing and blaming the recipe, I descovered that I had mistook farenheit for centigrade, and f for a c! when I halved the temperature they cooked perfectly! maybe your oven is hotter than it says! (y’know if ovens could speak) ;o)

    the lemon bars look fab! ooh I love anything citrusy.

  14. To recite from a very old post of yours “Sometimes good food lokes like vomit.” Then again these didn’t taste all that good did they? And how about a new cookie sheet? At least those lemon bars were good.

  15. Adam, is there any chance you can print the full recipe for those lemon bars? The original post about them isn’t fully clear, and I’d love to try them. Thanks!

    P.S. LEMON (anything) RULES!!

  16. My next Craigslist post:

    FREE

    One Tartine Cookbook.

    Many recipes attempted, not one of which was a success.

    Hope you have better luck with that cookbook than I did.

    Will consider trade for Dorie Greenspan’s, “Baking With Julia.”

  17. You could have quite a platter (a poo-poo platter) if you made these cookies ans the Sweet Potato Queen’s Cat sh*t cookies! I think I’ll have the lemon bars (which I love)!

  18. Hey,

    meringue anything shouldn’t really rise any more in the oven, should they?

    I agree with the people above who recommend lining your cookie trays but forget about parchment… its annoying to cut and you have to throw it out afterwards. I cannot live without silicone mats or silpats or whatever you want to call them. Everyone one should have at least one in their stash of kitchen goodies. I wouldn’t dream of making a meringue without one and they make silly things like parmesean crisps brainlessly easy to make.

    SO go out and buy one and never have a cookie or meringue stick to anything ever again!

    (wow, I sound like a bad advertisment, sorry!)