I’ve been writing this summer about recipes and memories from my mother’s 1971 Betty Crocker cookbook. Last week I mentioned the “Galaxy cookies.”
I always wanted to make those Galaxy cookies and never had the nerve. I’ve spent the last six days doing just that – or at least – trying to.
The caption for the half-page photo read: “As varied as the stars. So easy, so delicious are these cookies that look like bonbons. And there’s a surprise center in each.”
That wasn’t the only surprise.
There must have been some spot in my brain, some Id instinct that knew this would not go well. Finally, I can let this regret go. I attempted, and after improvements, I achieved (mostly).
Now, remember: this recipe is 50 years old. Things have changed, and I won’t be making this cookie again. I found it chalky, tasteless and it easily crumbled. What did work was the modern “cake cookie,” which held together much better and actually formed a dome.
GALAXY COOKIES 1971
“Betty Crocker’s Cook Book”
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Food color, if desired
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal Flour*
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dates, nuts, semisweet chocolate pieces and candied or maraschino cherries
I’ll move the chef’s note here: “*Do not use Self-Rising Flour in this recipe.” That makes very little sense to me, since a risen cookie is what is required to create the bonbon effect. Me and Betty need to have some words.
Betty Crocker continues: “Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix thoroughly butter, sugar, vanilla and few drops food color. Work in flour and salt until dough holds together. (If dough is dry, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons light cream.)”
Oh, this dough was dry, alright. Dry as the Sahara. I used half-and-half in place of light cream.
BC: “Mold dough by tablespoonfuls around date, nut, cherry or a few chocolate pieces. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until set but not brown.”
BC: “Cool; dip tops of cookies into Icing. If desired, decorate with coconut, nuts, colored sugar, candies, chocolate pieces or chocolate shot.”
Evidently, chocolate shot is a name for chocolate sprinkles. And I couldn’t have dipped the tops of the cookies if I wanted to since they had no structure and couldn’t be held by the edge without falling into pieces.
I tinted these cookies a nice, Martian green just for fun, and wrapped the dough around a Hershey’s Kiss. As it turned out, my cookies bore a similarity to the 1950s B-movie Sci Fi flying saucers, which I found amusing. Ed Wood would have been pleased.
Yes, they spread like red wine on a white tablecloth. For the second batch, I chilled the dough 30 minutes. Same result.
I knew there had to be something better, so if you feel so inclined to make Galaxy Cookies – decorating them is fun after all, – try this recipe from somewhatsimple.com. It’s actually on several internet sites, so choose your favorite. I used a white cake mix, added lemon extract for flavor, and chilled the dough 30 minutes before rolling into balls for baking.
GALAXY COOKIES 2022
1 box cake mix, your choice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavor, optional)
Mix all of the ingredients well. If using a white cake mix, add food coloring as desired to achieve your “galactic” effect.
Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a small scoop or two spoons, scoop the dough into a ball shape and drop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 7 – 9 minutes until slightly browned around the edges. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Now, the galaxy. As the James Webb telescope has shown us, there is a lot of variety out there. You can go old-school rings and spots, or get out the airbrush and create nebulae, gas clouds or whatnot.
I chose old school, with some sparkly sugars, some sprinkles and dyed icing. A basic confectioners’ sugar icing will do just fine.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons light cream or 1 1/2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk ingredients together to form a smooth, stiff icing. Transfer small amounts of the white icing to a container where you can tint it with food coloring. I have several 3-inch ramekins that worked great and a tiny whisk that I rinsed off between each mix – much faster and easier to achieve a uniform color.
Ice the cookies as you see fit, drawing inspiration from the planets – real or imagined – from galaxies far, far away and enjoy your cookies with milk or cocoa while watching reruns of the best mid-century sci-fi series ever: Star Trek.
Boldy go where no cook has gone before! Even if it doesn’t turn out, at least you will have had an adventure. Let’s get cooking.