Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cookie Bake

Last night, we had several friemily members over for a big Christmas cookie bake. We made Oatmeal/Apple/Cranberry, White Chocolate/Orange/Walnut, Chocolate Chip (which did that thing that chocolate chip cookies do half the time and for no discernable reason in which they spread out and taste fine but look like lumpy discs), and sugar cut-outs. I used a recipe I've been doing for cut-outs lately which is slightly cakier than the recipe from my childhood and which I think takes a frosting better as it is less sweet. However, we wound up not frosting them at all and using the sprinkles and sugars that my sil and I had accumulated over the last year or so. We let the kids do all of the cutting out and decorating, which meant that there were a looooot of cookies for Santa at the end (and also that I am going to be doing another batch of cut outs for myself and the grownups later.) Seriously. It's cold season, y'all.

A few things made this potentially life-threateningly messy situation less messy and stressful for the adults.

  1. I rolled the dough out between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4 inch thick before chilling. When I came up with this idea a few weeks ago, I thought it was BRILLIANT. Turns out that bakers have been doing it for years. Oh, well. In any case, doing this made it really easy to give each child half of a sheet and save the scraps for a quick roll and toss into the freezer.
  2. I lined half of our kitchen table with floured wax paper and set the cookie trays up on the other side. The kids cut out the cookies on one side and decorated them on the other. This worked pretty well, although I think that next time I'll do an assembly line from one end of the table to the other. Less walking around and therefore smoodging of dough all over my kitchen. I wish I'd thought to take a picture, but I was totally in the moment and forgot. My sil got some, I think.
  3. I let go of my anxiety about the whole thing. I tend to be crazy meticulous when I'm deep in the zone of a new obsession and cooking has become IT lately. But I realized that this was not about me and my fantasies of silver-iced perfect stars. It was about a bunch of friemily hanging out and the littles having a high old time making messes and memories. They were all flour-covered, sugar-wired, and HAPPY at the end of it all. And so were the adults.
Oh, while I'm at it, I'd like to share with you my new recipe collecting dealio. I'm sure this is another one of those "Uh, yeah, NotHannah. Pretty much EVERYBODY does that." things, but I'm a little slow coming into this cookery stuff.

While I love cookbooks and use recipes from them frequently, I find myself more and more using the internet (and friends) as a source--mainly because many of these recipes are rated and/or have been tested by folks whose opinions and tastes I trust. I had collected quite a wodge of printed out pages and scraps of crumpled paper and it was getting to be a mess. The solution was rewriting or reprinting anything stained and crinkled past recognition and slipping the pages into clear plastic page protectors tucked inside a three ring binder. The plastic keeps the pages from getting wet and icky and the binder stands up on its own on the counter.

I've started dating when I use each recipe and adding a little note about the event or the reaction folks had to the dish. I could probably even add pictures to some of the recipes. I think it'll be a cool thing for my kids to look back on--and a great way for me to record good times with friemily. And family illnesses. Whatever.

Oh, one last thing--this didn't work:

I was all excited about my cookie scoop with the press-the-dough-out back, but it wound up being a flop and a half. It couldn't cope with my very wet chocolate chip dough and while it was better with the oatmeal and turned out some nicely shaped cookies, it was a pain in the butt and took much longer than just eyeballing a table spoon and smooshing the dough out with my finger. Save your $3.99.

1 comment:

Hartwell said...

Your white chocolate walnut orange cookies were the best things EVER. Seriously. I'm craving them. CRAVING! them...