adventures in awesomeness…

Baking by Fire!

I knew I was supposed to make spaghetti and meatballs AND cookies for the boys’ Pre-K Holiday/Cultural pot luck, so I don’t know why I waited until the day before to make EVERYTHING.

I also thought this would be a good day to go on a 7 mile bike ride and fast. (I have no idea what is wrong with my brain sometimes.)

So after laying on the couch, panting like a dying dog, I force myself to get up and start baking. I manage to whip up 2 cookie batters before I have to go back to preschool. Then we rush home and I make 3 more different types of cookie dough (yeah, something is definitely going wrong inside my brain) before realizing that we have to go to the store to get EVERYTHING for spaghetti & meatballs.

I start out making these, Chocolate Peppermint Cookies from Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine:

Martha Stewart RecipesDon’t they look just delightful!!

I follow the recipe to a T and the resulting cookies… delicious! They taste exactly like a thin mint!

Amped up about making a tasty and attractive cookie, I move on to a chocolate thumbprint cookie filled with ganache (also Martha Stewart, from the same issue). I didn’t have enough softened butter so I decide to cut the recipe in half. Again, the cookies come out looking great (thank you Martha!) but when I go to eat one… whoa, I can really taste the salt in there.

GODDAMNIT! Who forgot to cut the salt in half and added TWO teaspoons instead of one?

DOH!Me. I ruined the cookies.

But, I thought, perhaps they could be saved with the ganache filling. Wrong! The salt overpowered everything. I was starting to feel like Jamie in Top Chef when she over salted her celery and went spiralling out of control. They were the first, but not the last, cookie to go in the trash.

I take a break from cookies to get the meatballs made, as the boys are starving and I won’t let them eat cookies for dinner. After a horrible trip to Target, I get the spaghetti and meatballs going and return to my next cookie, the Key Lime thumbprint cookies.

They turn out okay, but I don’t like shortbread that is too thick, so everything kind of sticks to the roof of my mouth. I leave out the key lime filling for the second batch and add strawberry jam straight from the jar. Much better! And more festive. Yay.

Spirits up I decide it’s time to coat these peppermint cookies with white chocolate. But as my stove is filled with spaghetti noodles and sauce and meatballs, I have to use the microwave, which is always tricky, even for reheating coffee. The chips don’t look like they are melting so I add butter. And my chocolate turns into a grainy clump.

Seized White ChocolateWHAT. THE. HELL??

Apparently, you are not supposed to put even like a speck of water in chocolate or it will seize up. Even a moist wooden spoon can cause your delicious Ghiradelli chocolate to turn into junk. Luckily I had two bags.

I use a water bath/double boiler this time and things are going along well. And then…. JUNK! Fuck, fuck, fucking fucker fuckaholic! I am pretty pissed. I am also tired and hungry. Plus the damned dog is scavenging around, ducking in and out of the shadows looking for the moment when my back is turned to climb up the step stool and eat everything off the counter. (Yes, the dog have evolved and can now use tools, like an ape.)

We eat, I put the boys down, I almost fall asleep on the floor, and then I slowly, sadly, trudge back to the kitchen. It’s almost nine pm. Where did my day go?

So Chocolate Peppermint cookies have no coating. I try to “frost them with the white chocolate but it looks ugly and makes the cookies soft. I try making sandwiches out of them with the ganache. I decorate them with stencils and powdered sugar. But none of them really taste that great or look that great and it’s a ton of work I don’t want to do now that it’s ten pm.

And then I realize I have two more cookies in the fridge that need to be cooked. I decide that it’s time to get drunk.

It makes making my ammonia cookies a bit easier. I decide, after burning the first batch, not to make the Meyer Lemon Lace Tuiles.

It’s 12:10am. I’ve been awake for 17 hours, baking for 14 of those hours. My feet ache. My back aches. But… But. I have a fabulous tray of cookies that look good (enough) and taste yummy yummy.

Seacrest out!


Fuck Yea!!!


Dishes are done, man…

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It’s Cookie Time!!

It’s my favorite time of year, Christmas cookie time! The boys and I are starting things off with a bang — and finally opening the baker’s ammonia I’ve been chomping at the bit to use. (Much thanks to my awesome mom-in-law!)

So I really, really wanted to do an ammonia cookie (also known as Swedish Drömmar or Vanilla Dreams) and omit the coconut and make a thumbprint cookie with the dough.

 What’s left of my failed thumbprint cookie.

While very tasty, the resulting cookies were a hot mess to look at. The jam had fallen through the cookies creating a huge hole in each one. I just could not keep the cookie from spreading and sagging beneath the weight of the jam. So I made a new batch, this time adding color by rolling them in red & green sugar. The ones that I didn’t burn turned out fabulous.

Yay! It’s delicious and good-looking, just like my husband!

Here is the recipe I used, a mashed-up modification of recipes I found on the internet.

2 cups plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cup of sugar

1 cup of butter, softened

1½ tsp vanilla

1 tsp baker’s ammonia

½ – ¾ tsp salt (to taste)

colored sugars, optional

Preheat oven to 300 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar just until sugar is incorporated into the butter, 30sec – 1 minute. Add vanilla.

Crush baker’s ammonia, being careful not to inhale it! They were used to revive fainting people for a reason. You don’t want to end up with a burned nostril and a wonky eye like me. =D

Sift together flour, salt, and ammonia and stir into butter mixture.

Dough will be very stiff. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. I used a 1/2 tablespoon to measure my dough. Roll balls in colored sugar and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. If your balls are soft (he he he) then put them in the refrigerator for an hour.

Place in middle rack of oven and bake 6-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Tops will be pale and edges should be golden brown.

Let cool and then enjoy!!

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