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Tag Archives: baking

A not-so-sweet saga

Let me preface this by saying, there are a few things in the world I am very good at, and I *know* I am very good at them.

I think we all have these things. Like, your thing might be painting, or you always seem to pick the best books out of the library even though you know nothing about them like you have the best radar at it, or you just know which line in the grocery store will move most quickly even if it’s not the one with the fewest people in it.

We’re brought up to hide our lights under bushels. Bragging is seen as wrong and rude. Well, I say fie on that. If you have weird talents, CELEBRATE THEM. Sing your praises to the high heavens about your weird talents! It’s not like anyone else is going to do it!

I am passing average at a lot of things, I am downright terrible at MOST things, but I am very good at a few things. Those things are:

  • somehow winning people (and animals) over with my quirky charm and making them laugh even when I’m not trying to (ok, the laughing only applies to the humans, here, and I guess it might apply to hyenas but I don’t know any hyenas);
  • crocheting (I know, this is totally my apocalypse skill, I can make you all very warm blankets);
  • shopping for the best, most appropriate gifts for my loved ones for special occasions, and
  • baking cookies.

My mother taught me the crocheting and the baking when I was young and I randomly carried these skills over with me into adulthood. I think the winning-people-over thing came from Dad. We’re very good at being sociable, even though we don’t like it much. No idea where the shopping thing came from. Guess that’s all me.

I taught myself cookie-making tricks. There was a lot of trial-and-error. I learned things like good ingredients really do make all the difference, and that parchment paper saves the bottom of cookies and makes them look like restaurant cookies and you need to check on the cookies quite often to make sure you take them out of the oven at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! and refrigerating the dough beforehand stops them from spreading too much so you don’t have these weird flat crunchy too-thin cookies. There were a lot of fails. But sometimes, fails lead to wins.

DELICIOUS WINS.

I promise I never look like this. I'm usually covered in flour and/or chocolate and who has time to curl their hair? Good grief.

I promise I never look like this. I’m usually covered in flour and/or chocolate and who has time to curl their hair? Good grief.

I have a number of tried-and-true cookie recipes that I fall back on time and time again. Every now and then, I’ll find five more or so, and try them all, and if they work out, I’ll add one or two more to the repertoire, but mostly I make the following:

  • Chocolate Rads (these are the most labor-intensive cookies you can imagine, and involve melting chocolate and a double-boiler and letting the dough rest in the refrigerator until it’s a rock-hard chocolate block and making them into little balls by hand until you’re so covered with chocolate you look like maybe you’ve murdered someone that works at Hershey but it’s SO WORTH IT because they taste like brownies mixed with cookies and also have espresso in them so they make you VERY SPEEDY)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies (but before you’re all “duh, who can’t make these, mine are like the ones you get in restaurants, only better, and involve many steps, very expensive chocolate, and Paula-Deen-esque levels of butter)
  • Rum Balls (I only make these for BFF, because he loves them to distraction, and even getting too close to them gives you a contact high, whoo!)
  • Maple Shortbread (imagine the butteriest shortbread ever, but it tastes like maple syrup. But not so much that it gives you a sugar high. Just enough that it’s like a hint of pancakes. AMAZINGNESS)
  • Anisette Toast (forget the Anisette Toast you can get in the store that’s all stale and crunchy; this is moist and licoricey and slightly sweet and very dense)
  • Peanut Butter Kisses (yeah, I know, boring, but they’re Dad’s favorite, and whenever I’m bringing cookies home, he says, “I wonder if there will be any of those cookies with the kisses in the middle because they’re really the only good ones,” so it’s not like I CAN’T make them)
  • Nutella Cupcakes (these things frost themselves with Nutella. They’re like magic. MAGIC, I TELL YOU!)
  • Gooey Butter Cookies (these are embarrassingly good and involve a ton of cream cheese and butter and a box of cake mix. Don’t ask. They are chemically delicious heart attacks.)

I know I can go back to these time and time again and they’ll work out well. I’ve made them over and over; I know the quirks of the recipes and I know they’re crowd-pleasers. (I like to be the one that brings the best thing to a potluck. I like people to say, “YOU MUST GIVE ME THIS RECIPE.” I like to hear from across a room “who made these cookies?” when their mouth is FULL of the cookies and it’s like they’re having a mouthgasm. These things are really pleasing to me. I like the plate to be empty when the night is over, even if it means I don’t get to bring home leftovers.)

This is all leading up to an EPIC FAIL. Stick with me.

So. In news of things that are out of the ordinary…I was invited to a party. A REAL PARTY THAT IS OUTSIDE OF MY HOUSE.

You know my theory about parties, right? That theory is no, hell no, OH hell no, and I think I have to wash my hair all night long sorry nope uh-uh nope nope NOOOOOPE.

To add to this, it is a SUPERBOWL PARTY. This is a party REVOLVING AROUND SPORTSBALL.

However, sometimes things happen that are out of your control, like, the party is being thrown by one of your most favorite humans, who has been so kind to you the entire time you’ve been new in town, and makes you laugh so hard you sometimes almost cry, and one time you yelled at this person because you were having a REALLY BAD MOMENT and it was forgiven, like, immediately? And some of your favorite work people will be at the party, so really, how bad can it be? And the fact that you were invited at all was SO, SO NICE? And there will be food there! Delicious snacky sportsballing food! And you’ll just have gotten out of work and you’ll be starving and all that delicious food will be there and your work friends will be there happy to see you!

So I grudgingly said, “So, I was thinking of going to your party” and got a “YES YOU SHOULD COME!” response so how could I not go, you know?

So we were all asked to bring something. Of course, cookies, I mean, it’s not like I’m going to bring a meatloaf. (Yes, I make a kickass meatloaf, but that’s not the point, because that’s not really the thing you bring to a party. It seems like an odd thing to bring along. “HEY HI THANKS FOR THE INVITE I BROUGHT THE LOAF OF MEAT,” you know?)

No, not YOU, Meatloaf. Put that madface away.

No, not YOU, Meatloaf. Put that madface away.

So! I got up early. I was out of baking soda, of all things. I ran to the store. OUT OF BAKING SODA. Another store. OUT OF BAKING SODA. (SIDE NOTE: is this a thing used to make the drugs? Why are so many stores out of baking soda, of all things? There’s a lot of meth being made here. Are people using baking soda to make meth? I suppose I could look that up, but then Time Warner might think I was a drug addict on top of a terrorist.)

HOLY CRAP! Does anyone KNOW about this? I JUST CURED CANCER BY USING THE PAST!

HOLY CRAP! Does anyone KNOW about this? I JUST CURED CANCER BY USING THE PAST!

So I finally got the baking soda and I came home and did a million things and then it was cookie-making time and I made the dough and and and…

…somehow, it did not work.

It wasn’t dough. It was sand. There was not enough liquid. I followed the recipe to the letter. I thought, oh, well, I will cook them. Maybe that will help. NO! They turned out like little rock-hard hockey pucks. Little chocolate-studded hockey pucks. I thought, “maybe they will be ok?” but after they cooled I’m pretty sure they could have been used as weapons if hurled at an intruder. You cannot bring these sorts of things to a party. Well, you could, but you’d get a lot of fake faces and “oh! Aren’t THESE good!” and I can’t even deal with such things.

I would take a photo but you can’t tell from looking at them that they are filling-destroying cookies. They just look like cookies. It’s misleading.

So. 9pm. ANOTHER BATCH OF COOKIES. The solution seemed to be COMPLETELY MELTING THE BUTTER. This has never been an issue before, I have no idea why this time the recipe decided to be so touchy.

You will be pleased to know the second batch is lovely and not at all too hard. Just right. Something I’ll be proud to arrive at the party with. (Whew.)

The moral of the story is: even if you are very, very good at something, sometimes you can fail.

Doesn’t mean you can’t shout from the rooftops how good you are at it. Just means that sometimes you have to scramble to do it over again when it fails.

(And you have an extra batch of VERY HARD, yet very chocolately and still edible, if you work at it, cookies, all for you. So, not a total loss, then.)

Wish me luck, jellybeans. Go go sportsball teams. Win kick run. Fully inflate your balls. Rah rah sis boom bah.

ME AT THE PARTY. Note that I'm not paying attention to the sportsballing. But I WILL be eating all the foods. YUM.

ME AT THE PARTY. Note that I’m not paying attention to the sportsballing. But I WILL be eating all the foods. YUM.

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