Typically, this blog is a compilation of my successes in the kitchen this year. Looking back though, I realize there are some things I don’t share with you. You don’t get to see the bloopers, blunders and B-roll footage, if you will.
You followed me on my ups and downs with conquering fresh dough. There are more disasters where that came from. Like the Asian Spiced Baby BackRibs and Baked Beans with Bacon recipes I tried out of the Food Network magazine this weekend. I didn’t burn anything or botch the recipe, but both dishes were a lot of work and the outcome was nothing to write home about.
Cooking is not easy. Baking is even harder. Many of my least proud moments in the kitchen typically entail baking. This weekend was one of them. My partner in Sugar Mama Confections, a part-time cookie business, came over this weekend to kick-off our Christmas cookie extravaganza. This entails us baking and frosting something like 500 plus sugar cookies for gifts.
Things got off to a great start. I remember to let the butter soften on the counter overnight. I had already mixed two batches when Nicole arrived Saturday morning. She began mixing up another batch while I pressed out the dough and began cutting cookies.
When the first batch came out of the oven, to our chagrin, the cookies had puffed up and spread out rather than holding their shape. It was then we remembered that the recipe we have been going by, scribbled on a small Post-it, is wrong. When we recorded the recipe, we wrote baking soda rather than baking powder. And every time we begin the cookie baking process after a few months off, we forget the glitch and the first few batches wind up barely salvageable.
Not to be deterred, we pulled out the baking powder and resumed making dough. After baking our way through the baking soda-laden dough, we rolled out our first batch of cookies made with baking powder and into the oven they went. We thought the blunders were behind us, until the first “correct” batch of cookies came out of the oven. The cookies also had bubbles in them. And when we tasted them, the flavor was AWFUL.
What on earth was going on? I looked at the expiration date on the bottom of the baking powder. Sure enough, it was bad. Thankfully we tasted the cookies before we continued trying to bake all the batches we had mixed, or else we would have wasted time and ingredients. After years of following the same cookie recipe, Nicole and I decided it was finally time to retire “the holy grail of recipes” as she referred to it. It wound up in the garbage along with three batches of dough.
The good news is I discovered a few new recipes this weekend. Typically, the pièce de résistance of my Thanksgiving is my friend Dennis’ cornbread stuffing. This year, that title goes to his wife Kelly for her Golden Rum Cake swimming in Myer’s Dark Rum.
I would be remiss not to give an honorable mention to my friend Kimberly for her turkey cookie creations. To make these cookies, cut a fudge stripe cookie and pinwheel cookie in half. Melt chocolate chips to use as a paste. Coat the end of the pinwheel with melted chocolate and attach it to the fudge stripe cookie. Put a dab of chocolate on a piece of candy corn and place it on the head. Dip a toothpick in chocolate and dot the eyes. Refrigerate to set the chocolate and store in an airtight container. Here’s a more specific recipe.