Tuesday, December 21, 2010

C is for Cookie, That's Good Enough For Me

The Great Cookie Caper 2010

[Transcripts from interview conducted in my messy home earlier this evening.]
What's the Great Cookie Caper 2010?
MEP: You haven't heard of it? Probably because I named it just now. Four fabulous bloggy friends decided to make cookies and post about the experience on the same day.
Did they all make the same cookies?
MEP: No.
Did they all make Christmas cookies?
MEP: No.
Let's move on. How can I read about all the cookies?
But let's focus on you, MEP. Is baking a specialty of yours?
MEP: I have had some recent successes, specifically my successful execution of the greatest chocolate chip cookie ever, but I don't really think of myself as a super awesome baker. I'm willing to attempt almost anything though, and my boys really like to help in the kitchen.
This interview is getting boring. What were your baking goals for this holiday season?
MEP: Oh, you know, come up with a signature baked good to knock the holiday socks off everyone at the various holiday parties I attend. Sure, I can make a good snow-covered turd and my chocolate-covered pretzels aren't bad either, but I wanted a go-to cookie or candy.
Let's get back to that mention of holiday parties. I thought I heard that you weren't actually invited to any holiday parties that did not involve family or your husband's colleagues.
MEP: I think party-givers heard about the snow-covered turds and were intimidated. Doesn't really matter though as I am still seeking that signature baked good.
Well, let's get to it. What did you make for the Great Cookie Caper 2010?
MEP: I've been slowly building a collection of cookie cutters and had planned to do my research and find the ultimate recipe for cut-out cookies and that icing that you sort of dip them in. Unfortunately, I was soon bogged down by the stress of the season. Playing Santa, trying to get some cards in the mail, packing and traveling, moving that Elf on the Shelf around. I'll share some photos of what the boys and I did instead of making tasty homemade cookies in recognizable shapes.
Go for it.
MEP: First you buy a tube of sugar cookie dough from the grocery store and sit it on the counter because it might feel awfully cold and hard (editor's note: Michael Scott?).
Let your Bub wear his awesome brand-new apron (Team MEP has matching aprons now, thanks to Aunt Shell -- more on those adorable aprons in a future post) while he puts on his gloves (plastic baggies -- Grammy taught him that) and rolls the dough.
You can roll out the dough on a sil-pat if you are afraid that your island is unsanitary (realtor's note: one way to torture any person who might ever live in your home is to install a butcher block counter.)
Choose a few cookie cutters and cut out some festive shapes. Bub chose a tree, a gingerbread man, and a cardinal. Since you let the dough sit out to soften it, it will be challenging to cut out any cookies at all without them breaking. You will remember something in the back of your mind about working with chilled dough. You'll have to make them extra-thick so you can transfer them to the cookie sheet.

If you push them all too close together, some of them will bake together. Note that the cardinal did not quite hold its shape.
Let me interrupt, MEP, things don't seem to be going well.
MEP: Actually, things are not as bleak as they look. Bub really enjoyed cutting out the cookies, and I made the wise decision that the cookies would be iced to order.
Sounds like a good way to continue making a mess in your kitchen.
MEP: Yes, I like to start the morning by stepping in a pile of sprinkles. Anyway, after dinner, I iced the cookies with store-bought frosting then let the boys sprinkle away. They had fun, which is all that matters.
Indeed. I hate to point out the obvious, MEP, but there's not really a recipe here.
MEP: Well, maybe just a recipe for having fun with a few inexpensive store bought ingredients.
Ha ha ha, MEP, you are clever. Still though, I feel cheated. Perhaps you are holding out on us.
MEP: Okay, okay. Feeling a bit embarrassed about the cut-out cookies, I remembered an old favorite that I like to call the Dreamsicle Cookie. Key ingredients are butter, orange zest, and vanilla chips.
Vanilla chips? I've never heard of those.
MEP: Me neither, and I can't find them in any store. I've always substituted white chocolate chips. Anyway, the cookie is easy to make, and when I made them a few years back, my hubby liked them.
Can we have the recipe?
MEP: I'm too tired to type it up right now and don't know what the rules are about posting recipes that belong to others. This one comes from the cookbook of a famous bakery in New York. NTB. If you want it, email me at mep at nottobrag dot net. NTB, but Dreamsicle is my own name for the cookie, not to be confused with the ice cream novelty.
Yes, when I think Christmas, I think about Dreamsicles. Wait, no I don't. How is the Dreamsicle cookie appropriate for this season?
MEP: You know how in the Little House books, Laura and the Ingalls kids are so thrilled to receive a stick of peppermint and an orange for Christmas? This cookie honors that holiday orange. You can call them Half-Pint's Orange Delights if you wish.
I don't wish.
MEP: Your prerogative. I do want to issue a warning that the recipe calls for a tablespoon of orange zest. I didn't have enough zest (pun intended) to come up with that much orange zest, but I still think my cookies turned out beautifully. And, added bonus, these cookies make the whole kitchen smell amazing.
Speaking of your kitchen and of being amazing, we haven't seen an awesome kitchen tip from you in a while, MEP. Not since the great butter wrapper revelation. Have you been holding out on us?
MEP: Well, NTB, but I did come up with a little something that makes baking more convenient. You know how it's so annoying to keep having to go find the flour and then the sugar and then the baking soda and whatnot?
You mean you don't have those staples in beautiful, yet useful, vessels on your counter?
MEP: Those of us who do not live on Food Network sets can make baking easier with an unattractive but practical vessel purchased at their local CVS. I bought this file box with handle. Inside, I store my flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Then, when it's time to bake, I pull the whole caddy out of the pantry.
Pretty clever!
MEP: NTB. CVS is quite convenient for most readers if you're looking for a last minute gift. "Here, mom, it's a baking caddy!"
MEP, this post is too long and too boring.
MEP: I know. I'm sorry. I'm tired and slightly overwhelmed by the pressures of being Santa. Also, I feel a little sick to my stomach from eating too many cookies.
Merry Christmas then.
MEP: Merry Christmas to you. God Bless you, every one.
Wait, I think there's time for one last question. What was your daughter thinking during cookie time?
MEP: She's thinking, "Lady, enough with the Puffs. Puffs Schmuffs. I want cookies!"
She's definitely yours.

Have yourself the sweetest Christmas ever.


Heather said...

Your post may not include a homemade recipe, but it is way more fun to read than mine! I love the interview style, and the pictures of those cute babies of yours!

A baking caddy? What a great idea! I may just copy that...

(PS. I loved the Christmas story of the Ingalls...weren't they on Plum Creek that Christmas, with Mr. Edwards saying he met up with Santa? Brings back some memories, I'll tell you!)

E... said...

Love the interview format. Why aren't we always being consulted by the media for our mothering genius??
I'm not sure if I conveyed in my post the extent to which our baking experience dissolved into chaos. Baking is definitely not my forte, and find myself always making fatal blunders. It is just laughable how often I have screwed up the cookie press experience. I think the Dreamsicles sound divine, though I might try them with dark chocolate -- see, this is the kind of thing I do that never works out!
Wish we could get the kiddos together for a real bake-off!

Stacia said...

Would you believe I could never get into the Little House books? Can we still be friends?

I do have a lovely plastic baking caddy, though, so maybe that redeems me??

PS: Puffs Schmuffs indeed. That's my little guy's motto, too. He's ready for steak, or at least a good hunk of fudge. But his toothless gums are decidedly not.

Lap said...

Loved the interview. I think I will create a caddy. That's the type of organizational step that not only would help me but would also impress BB.

Ribbon Dancer Up and Down said...

Wow MEP, that interviewer was really quite bitchy. You handled her well though, and without violence, which I found impressive.

Oh and for the record, I totally would have invited you to my holiday party, should it have been in the Chicago area. And I would have requested turds.

CaraBee said...

Oh Mep, as always you bring fun to a simple task! Love the interview! Who needs a complicated recipe, it's about having a fun time with your kids. And it definitely looks like you were successful in your quest. Those are some big smiles!

Next year, we have to trade cookies for real!

Merry Christmas!

Shannon said...

A baking caddy... genius!

And while the sugar cookies may not have turned out looking very pretty, I'm sure they tasted great! You can't go wrong with frosted sugar cookies.

Actchy said...

This morning I've realized that I have (a) nothing to put a candle into for Acey's 2nd birthday, and (b) no cookies to leave for Santa tomorrow night on a newly-impulse-purchased "Cookies for Santa" plate. I've been struggling with foregoing a second 2nd birthday cake so that the cookies are available...but a post celebrating Christmas cookies in whatever form they take tipped the scales. He's too little to realize candles don't generally go in cookies...

Lady Jennie said...

All I want for Christmas now is a cookie. Seriously we got nuttin here. Although we're supposed to have my favorite ice cream later - peanut butter and chocolate.

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

I bake those white chip & orange zest cookies all the time! (At least, I suspect my recipe is the same as yours.) They're highly addicting.

I hope you and your lovely family had the sweetest Christmas ever, too!

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