Josh and his Dad Experiment: Swamp Cookies

First, a disclaimer: These cookies are, well, a little weird.

Second, a little background:

I have a problem: I get my dried herbs and spices really cheaply. Our farmer’s market sells bulk herbs and spices, which means I get four ounces of ground ginger for 60 cents. The problem is: I have huge amounts of lesser-used spices piling up on my shelves. Sure, I can use up four ounces of thyme in no time (sorry, couldn’t resist) but file powder? Just how much gumbo can one family eat?

So that’s what motivated me to try to think of something different to do with file powder–why not cookies, right? OK, I agree it sounds a little strange, but why not experiment?

Our first step was to come up with a flavor profile for the cookies. I set up a big cutting board with three little piles of file powder, then added clove to the first, ginger to the second, and clove and ginger to the third. Next, I put down two piles of sugar: one white and one dark brown. Finally, I dolloped out a tablespoon each of molasses and honey.

Next step: Josh and I start the taste tests. Round One eliminated ginger x file from the running. Too spicy. That left us with:

clove x file vs. ginger & clove x file

Next, we tried each sugar with each spice/file mixture to arrive at our semi-finalists. The winning combos were:

clove & file x brown sugar vs. clove, ginger & file x white sugar.

Final Round: pairing each of these mixtures with molasses and honey. The winning combination was:

clove, file, brown sugar, and molasses

For the cookie dough, I worked off of a variation of a snickerdoodle recipe. Here’s what we came up with:

    1-1/2 sticks of butter, softened
    1-1/2 cups brown sugar
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons molasses
    2-1/2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1-1/4 teaspoons clove
    1-1/4 teaspoons file powder

Whip the butter and sugar until airy. Add the egg and beat. Add the molasses and combine until smooth.

Mix together your dry ingredients, then add to your wet, combining with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once you have a dough (it will be pretty wet, given the butter/sugar ratio here), form a ball and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once your dough has set up, slice off pieces and roll into 1″ balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, with about 3″ between them. Flatten to just under 1/2″ by pushing down (criss-cross) on the balls with a fork twice. Back for 13-14 minutes.

Let them cool for a couple of minutes before transferring them off the parchment paper and onto a cooling rack.

The verdict? Think spice cookies, but with an unusual undertone. Odd, perhaps, but not at all unpleasant. At least that was the majority opinion. Josh and my youngest (age five) both liked the cookies. My ten year’s comment: “Tastes like chicken.” Which got me to thinking of another experiment: why not use the same flavor profile for a sausage-cornbread stuffing? Hmm…

So were Swamp Cookies a success? Given how much fun Josh and I had experimenting in the kitchen, I would say most definitely.

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7 Responses to Josh and his Dad Experiment: Swamp Cookies

  1. Prajna says:

    You won’t believe this! We just made snickerdoodles. For Adam’s Valentine’s Day celebration at school! Too bad I didn’t see this recipe before the big day. Or maybe that’s a good thing. I love the process most of all. Great fun!

    • joshdaddy says:

      Yeah, they are a bit peculiar–although on second taste, Matthew has declared the cookies “strangely addictive.” Maybe I should double-check the chemical properties of sassafras leaves!

  2. Patty Hebert says:

    Love how you worked out the spice selection. We will definitely give them a try.

    • joshdaddy says:

      It’s really fun–and informative–to work through how different tastes play off of each other. Next time I do make gumbo, I will probably hit it with a bit of clove.

  3. Patty Hebert says:

    I have put clove in my chili — just a hint… It gives it a zing.

    Also dearest Prajna has a wonderful red lentil and ginger recipe that I served to my folks yesterday. The ginger is always a hit.

    • joshdaddy says:

      Ginger’s a great example of a spice that changes radically between fresh and dried. I have to be really careful with dried ginger or my younger palates will declare the dish too spicy (which is why I never put ginger in my masala chai). I never get that reaction when I use fresh ginger in a dish.

      I’ll have to ask Prajna for that red lentil recipe!

  4. Pingback: Josh and His Dad Experiment: Mustard | Cooking With Josh

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