The most historic election of our time has now come and gone. We’ve cast our votes like good Americans and got into plenty heated debates with our family members and have popped an extra Aspirin here and there to cure us all of our economic headaches. But now is the time to sit back and see what the new president-elect has in store for us. Surely the next president of the United States of America will provide us plenty of food for thought, but did you know that the First Lady has already provided us some food for munching?
It’s true! Since 1992, Family Circle magazine has conducted a cookie recipe contest for the potential First Ladies whose husbands are campaigning for the presidential seat. This year, the race included a recipe submitted by former president Bill Clinton as Hillary was still running for the democratic ticket at the time the issue went to press. It was a first for our country and the magazine to have a potential First Gentleman of the White House in the contest.
The contest winner (which is selected by voters of the magazine who picks their favorite cookie recipe) has always won the election by coincidence. The contest is now known as the great predictor of the presidential race. And you thought politics had no place in baking.
I think a lot can be said about a person by the recipes they choose and what they make. Clinton unfortunately only received 2% of the vote in Family Circle (sorry, Bill…people don’t like healthy cookies. If we’re gonna do something wrong, we want to do it right!). If you would like to see if Family Circle has stood up to it’s 16 year tradition, you’ll have to find out on mangia.vox.com.
Michelle Obama submitted a great recipe for shortbread cookies that was a recipe provided by Mama Kaye who is the godmother of both Obama daughters. The cookie is delightfully sweet and flavorful with a delicious citrus flavor provided by the zest of orange and lemon and has the surprising addition of dried fruit. I thought it was unique and exotic while still very satiating. It was as though the campaign slogan was still carried through in the recipe that it was indeed time for a change and when chocolate chips and peanut butter have lost their flare, this shortbread cookie with flavors of sweet fruit, tangy citrus and sweet amaretto are the perfect antidote to the ordinary.
Cindy McCain, stuck to the classics with her submission of Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies. You know, when I bit into these cookies I was quite a mixture of feelings. My exact thoughts were “Oh no. These are awesome”. But then I found out that she submitted the recipe that was a direct copy of Hershey’s recipe for Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies. And yeah, FC readers were livid. They felt swindled and betrayed. Why would anyone lie just to get votes? In a cookie contest?!
Now, do I personally think it to be a scandalous offense? No. A bad omen? Maybe. But in reality, I’m pretty sure that Cindy McCain thought perhaps that “hey, I like these cookies and I will submit this recipe because it’s my personal chef’s favorite”. Or maybe it like what happened to Phoebe on Friends when Phoebe gave Monica the source for her grandmother’s legendary chocolate chip cookies: a Madame Neslie Tolhaus (a.k.a. Nestle Tollhouse). Mistakes happen. I’m certain that when Cindy McCain submitted the recipe as a “family recipe” that was “passed down from a close friend” it very well could have been a Mrs. Babs Hershey.
Scandal or no, both of these cookies rocked my kitchen and will definitely be playing a huge part in this year’s Christmas cookie exchange. Enjoy everyone and thanks for voting!
Michelle Obama’s Shortbread Cookies
Makes 6 dozen 2x3 inch cookies
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond liqueur)
1 teaspoon each orange and lemon zest
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg white
Chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)
1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line a 17 x 12 x 1-inch baking pan with nonstick foil. In large bowl, cream together butter and 1-1/2 cups of the sugar.
2. Slowly add egg yolks, and beat well until smooth. Beat in Amaretto and zest.
3. Stir in flour and salt until combined.
4. Spread dough evenly into prepared pan, flattening as smoothly as possible.
5. Brush top of dough with egg white; sprinkle with nuts or fruit (if using) and with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
6. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes or until brown, turn off oven and allow cookies to sit in oven (with door ajar) for 15 minutes. Cut while slightly warm.
Cindy McCain’s (?) Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Makes 5 ½ dozen cookies
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1-2/3 cups butterscotch chips
1. Heat oven to 375F.
2. In a large bowl beat the butter or margarine, granulated sugar and brown sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating well.
3. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until blended. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.