Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jelly Doesn’t Freeze (In the Category of Say What You Mean.)

I had a vision for a new cookie, peanut butter and jelly. I’m not the first to think of this, but I have yet to find a recipe that matches my vision: a ball of peanut butter cookie dough folded around a glistening globe of jelly and baked to perfection. In my vision, the warm jelly squirts out as you bite into the tender-crisp peanut butter cookie shell, not unlike a jelly doughnut.

Early in the vision, I imagined putting jelly into plastic containers and letting it set in the freezer, then using the small end of a melon-baller to make little jelly dots. I planned to let them set firm and then drop them into little cups formed of cookie dough. I reasoned that the cold jelly would hold up while the cookie baked around it.

I Googled the concept a bit more. I found recipes that spread jelly between two frozen rounds of cookie dough, and recipes the plopped it into thumbprints pushed into peanut butter colored balls. The majority of recipes suggested I simply bake peanut butter cookies and make jelly-filled sandwiches out of them. I haven’t found anything like what I envisioned.

Have I mentioned my fantasy of winning the Pillsbury Bake-Off one day? It’s a bucket list item, really. The biggest challenge to date has been coming up with a completely original recipe – something that has never been baked before. If my cookie idea works, it could be a contender. (This goal drives many of my recipe experiments, and I’ve cooked some doozies.)

Jelly doesn’t freeze, however, which I did not know until today. I had a suspicion yesterday when, after keeping two bowls of jelly (one grape, one strawberry) in the freezer for two hours, I could scoop it with the melon-baller as easily as if I had taken it straight from the newly bought jar. I persevered, scooped little gems of jelly onto a parchment-papered cookie sheet and slid them into the freezer to set firm. This morning, I expected to find hard little marbles of jelly rolling around on the cookie sheet. Instead, I found this:
After sixteen hours in my freezer, the jelly had merely spread.
My perfect balls of jelly had actually spread over night. They jiggle just like jelly. They didn’t even get frosty. I am sure there is a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation for this, but it complicates my vision. I’m not giving up, though, because if it works, this might be the one -- the original recipe that wins me the million, and fame, and glory. Submissions for the 2014 Pillsbury Bake-Off “Simple Sweets” category begin April 4, 2014. Today’s baking will determine whether or not I have a thirteenth contest to enter this year. Recipe writing counts, doesn’t it?

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