To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.
Remember those pink, puffy cookies Carol whipped up in the “Not Tomorrow Yet” episode of The Walking Dead, the ones sweetened with canned beets and powered by homemade acorn flour and pureed water chestnuts? We decided to use Carol’s recipe — courtesy of the upcoming The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide — to bake a taste test batch of our own, and the results were very surprising: Beet and acorn cookies are a good thing!
We know! Color us surprised, because, really, outside a situation, like, say, an apocalypse, where you may not have had access to baked goods for years, who would have believed something made of pureed beets, pureed water chestnuts, and flour laboriously created from acorns picked off the ground would be anything but, well, beet-y? But several of our culinarily adventurous Yahoo colleagues sampled our version of Carol’s cookies, and the majority found them to be a perfectly fine afternoon snack.
“I like them!” said Mandi Bierly. “I was looking forward to tasting beets, but I didn’t. It’s like a ginger snap. Well done, Carol!”
Several people thought Carol’s cookies tasted like other cookies, ranging from ginger snaps to snickerdoodles to simple sugar cookies. “Definitely edible; I finished mine!,” Steve Korn said. “If Mrs. Fields was lost in the zombie apocalypse, these could be an acceptable alternative in a world of lowered expectations.”
“They tasted and smelled like regular cookies, so I’d eat more! I HATE beets, too!,” Chrissy Le Nguyen said. “But I wish they were more pink in color like Carol’s.”
“It’s not an industrial can of chocolate pudding, but I’d gladly chow on these at the end of the world,” Marcus Errico said.
“Better than I expected,” Lyndsey Parker said. “Has a sweetness and buttery-ness that is like a regular cookie. But wish it was denser, thicker.”
Among those who weren’t such big fans of the cookies — and again, that was the minority opinion — Will Lerner’s review was the most colorful. “My synagogue was in Woodstock, New York, and had tons of hippie members that my parents befriended. This cookie tastes like something my parents’ hippie friends would give me instead of normal, good cookies.”
That one makes us giggle, but Will’s onto something, too. The cookies aren’t made with ingredients you’d expect to find in homemade cookies (unless, apparently, you’re a Woodstock dweller trying to woo children to your way of life). That most of our colleagues did not find them offensive (literally, Jen Fox deemed her cookie “not as offensive as you think it would be”) is largely due to the fact that they don’t really taste like any of the individual ingredients in the recipe. That’s particularly surprising because those are ingredients you expect to be overpowering (especially the beets).
A few notes from our baking experience that are good to know should you decide to make Carol’s cookies (and we encourage you do; they’d be a great snack/conversation starter for a Season 8 premiere party in October):
* Nope, they are certainly not puffy, and not pink like the cookies Carol made in Season 6 (a hue that prompted cookie recipient Tobin to sum up his reaction to the cookies with this: “They’re pink!”). The raw batter/dough is sort of a mauve color, but once they bake, they are flat, brown, and crinkly looking. Ginger snap is the perfect comparison for how Carol’s Beet and Acorn Cookies really look.
* One of our colleagues mentioned the cookies’ normal cookie smell. This is true… once they make it to the oven that is. Let us just warn that if you are not a fan of beets, the smell of pureed beets in the raw batter is strong.
But, once you pop them into the oven, that odor dissipates, and a much more pleasant, generic cookie smell fills the air. Not the best cookie smell of all time — real estate agents are not going to be loading trays of Carol’s Beet and Acorn Cookies into the oven for open house days — but it will make up for what the anti-beet among us might find to be a sickening smell with the raw batter.
* About that batter. The recipe calls for you to drop it by “heaping tablespoons” onto a cookie sheet. We did that with the first batch we made, only to have them spread into one giant Carol’s Beet and Acorn Cookie that clearly could have taken on and defeated any other cookie on the planet (see photo below) once it baked. We found teaspoon-sized drops turned out a uniformly round, still quite large cookie.
* And a hint about baking time: Consider any quirks of your oven and adjust accordingly. The 14 minutes suggested in the recipe is why we ended up baking 72 cookies just to get four dozen acceptable — i.e. not so hard that they seemed like ninja throwing stars instead of cookies, though, given Carol’s badassery outside the kitchen, maybe that’s appropriate? — cookies for the taste test. Eleven minutes ended up being our sweet spot.
Now, about that acorn flour: You can make your own. It is a long, tedious process that involves gathering the acorns, weeding out the bad ones, cleaning them, processing them, drying them, baking them, removing bitter tannins from them… you can watch a video that details the whole method. It’s an interesting, ambitious way to go, but a very involved, time-consuming activity for an ingredient that amounts to a pretty small percentage of the recipe. We bought ours online from Sue’s Acorn Café and Mill, a small company that handmakes it, and is experienced with making sure it is top quality (i.e. tannin-free).
Researching this aspect of the cookie recipe brought another surprise about Carol’s Beet and Acorn Cookies. Though it amounted to a few moments in the episode’s opening, Carol’s cookie baking is another way Carol has devoted herself to her community, which includes both the loved ones she’s been with for years now, and the newer friends she’s made since Rick’s group moved into Alexandria.
She obviously did not have the option of handing over a credit card number to Sue’s Acorn Café and Mill and getting a bag of flour in the mail a few days later. Carol gathered the acorns in the woods and separated them and cracked them and cleaned them and baked them and ground them and dried them and… seriously, watch the video. It was a big effort by Carol to make some cookies that would bring a small, but significant treat to the children and adults around her.
It’s one more way Carol has evolved from the meek, abused wife we met in Season 1 into the fiercely protective warrior and mother to all and who has become the series’ most reliable heroine as we head into Season 8.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.