Sunday, December 20, 2009

The cookie produced by rocket fuel: a habanero harvest gone wild

I’d been hearing bits and pieces for a while. The habañero plants my parents grew in their Texas garden this year were on a bender. Pounds of produce were being harvested every few days, and I’d hear about salsa making, freezing, and even baking. But then I began to hear words like super thrive and rocket fuel. I laughed at my dad’s rocket science reference—he had worked in astronautics his entire life and a joke like rocket fuel was expected. When he came back with a clarification of “No, it really is called rocket fuel” I knew they had a harvest on their hands like no other.

I’m not a rogue mutant gardener. I come from gardeners. I am the daughter of gardeners, the granddaughter of farmers, and don’t let my Southern California suburbs upbringing fool you. It’s in my genes. My crazy gardening dad had been feeding his habañero pepper plants an experimental mixture of seaweed extract, fish emulsion, horticultural molasses, superthrive and rocketfuel. And sure enough, he was using Rocket Fuel. My mom and dad been attending the founder’s talks at their Native Plant Society and were intrigued with his organic gardening techniques. So dad started applying his own crazy mixture of organic food to their habañero plants and in November I received this e mail from my dad:
“We have a habañero plant that has gone way crazy. You see, I was experimenting using seaweed extract, fish emulsion, horticultural molasses, superthrive and rocketfuel back in August and it started producing about mid September. Mom has a freezer full and has been making habañero cookies and salsa like crazy. While we were gone our neighbors picked bags of them to freeze and give away. There are still a bunch on the plant. In fact there are still a few blossoms!!! Here is the latest picking, 5lbs. worth. Mom is in the kitchen, as we speak, rubber gloves on and fans whirring like crazy making another batch of salsa...”
And sure enough, here was a photo to prove it:
Habanero harvest from Texas

But did you see what I saw in that e mail above? Habañero cookies? Yes. And this week, guess what Santa delivered to our front door all the way from Texas?

The cookie that bites back. Habañero is a slow, creep-up-on-you-burn. One that tricks you with immediate sweet recognition then eventually sets the back of your tongue about 50 degrees hotter. My mom had a hit on her hands, that’s for sure, and my dad with his love for hot spice, and for cookies, must have been in hog heaven with these around. I know you dad.

habanero cookies from texas

If you’ve frozen an abundant amount of peppers from your garden, may I recommend you take this cookie to this season’s cookie exchange? I promise it’s delicious and unique, and anytime you can reference a cookie that bites back, it’s got to be a good one.

Habeñero Cookies (from
10 habañero peppers, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Remove and discard the stems, seeds, and pulp from the peppers. Mince peppers, and place in a bowl with enough milk to cover. Place bowl in a microwave, and heat until milk is lukewarm. Let sit about 10 minutes. Discard milk, and rinse peppers thoroughly in warm water. Repeat as desired.

In a large bowl, mix the peppers, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the pepper mixture just until combined. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.


Anonymous said...

Lelo~~ The cookie that bites back is a sureFIRE way to pique the curiosity of many an innocent bystander. Maybe cups shaped like fire hydrants [if there indeed exist such things] would be an additional kick. Kudos to your intrepid parents!!

LizCrain said...

Crazy talk! I love the idea of a habanero cookie -- esp. with some hot chai. Mmm. I am also very jealous of your folks' harvest. I've never been great at growing chiles. I plant them every year but never get a huge harvest. I think I have to feed them more like your dad did and get a bag of that rocketfuel. Thanks!

Heather said...

Wow. I'm not a fan of hot peppers, so yeah, this one would not be on my list!

Anonymous said...

Forget the milk. I used 6 habaneros instead of 10. Seeded and chopped them and tossed them in. I sprinkled the seeds and stems in a flower bed where a neighbor's cat was visiting. He's nowhere to be seen now.

Eugenia said...

LOVE IT! I use habanero bits to keep away raccoons "visiting" under my elm tree. Thank you so much for this recipe!

Lisa said...

I remember explosive pepper harvests when we lived in Texas but I never thought to make cookies with them. What an absolutely wonderful idea! I have to, have to try these!!

Best Wishes, Marie said...

wowzers !!!

Unknown said...

Those cookies look elaborate and delicious. I wish I could eat them.

Taipei Angela