...because we all have our motley moments!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Cookie Thing

Isn't it fun to bake cookies this time of year? Filling baskets and tins for teachers and friends and family and friends of family with beautifully decorated made-from-scratch pieces of fine art...

I can't even say that without gagging. Last year, I made a huge mistake. I tried to be perfect. I tried to make Martha Stewart-complicated cookie recipes that required too many steps and strange ingredients, and I was out of the holiday mood before the end of the first week of Advent. I was so frustrated in January that I left myself a little note to remind me to keep it simple so that I could enjoy the season this time around instead of drowning in eggs and flour. My gift to you is a short list of ideas to impress others without driving yourself crazy.

1. Don't bake, embellish. The lovely morsels in the picture at the top of this article are actually Amaretti cookies that I purchased. I dipped them in chocolate, and they became yummier and prettier. Had I wanted to really impress, I could have sprinkled them with holiday sprinkles or slivered almonds. The Amaretti cookie company makes their cookies far better than I ever could, so why not let them do it? Besides, technically when I added the chocolate I created ownership in the cookies, so I think saying I made them is not completely false. ;) So, find a good dipping chocolate and some fancy cookies, and dip away! I won't tell if you won't!

2. People who bake from scratch are great, but I don't have time. I also don't want to wash too many dishes. When I was grocery shopping the other day I noticed the holiday baking aisle agrees with me--they have a mix for pretty much everything these days. Snowball cookies, peanut butter ball candy, every cookie imaginable...it's impressive. These great mixes are a sanity-saver when I really just have time to dump and stir, not measure. Once baked, I recommend going back to tip #1--embellish, embellish, embellish. This Thursday is our MOPS Cookie Swap meeting, and my plan is to make sugar cookies from a mix that I have, dip them in white chocolate, and sprinkle crushed candy canes on them. Sure beats the from scratch Black Forest Cookie fiasco of last year, they will probably taste much better, and it's going to cost a lot less, too. (Also, I am making the sugar cookies from a mix because I already have it. I would totally get refrigerated sugar cookie dough for this otherwise!)

Enjoy the season this year, and take it easy on yourself! Got any tips for me? The easier the better!


Liz said...

I totally agree. Who am I trying to impress, anyway? The cookies I'm making for the cookie swap are just a bunch of different morsels microwaved together, mixed with corn flakes and peanuts, and spooned into baking cups. The ingredients cost me $12 and will make 5 dozen cookies. I have enough to worry about with taking care of my kids and buying presents and decorating the tree without destroying my kitchen making fancy cookies my family will never eat.

Donna said...

Good advice, Rachel! If we weren't so sick, I'd probably give my old molasses crinkles a try. I have all of the ingredients except the willingness to get in the kitchen and make a mess, which is the key ingredient when any kind of baking is involved!

Your chocolate-dipped cookies are so yummy, I'm going to have to restrain myself or they'll be gone before Paul gets home for lunch! Thank you so much for that! I may be too sick to make them, but I certainly not too sick to eat them!

Lindsay said...

I still enjoy making cookies from "scratch" but I have over the years found recipes that don't take a lot of ingredients and are very simple to make. Those have become my favorites. For example I made fudge a few days ago in 5 minutes. It was from scratch and oh so yummy, but super simple.

The only thing that I still make from time to time that his harder is my grandmother's cut out cookies however I haven't made them in a couple of years. I may attempt them this year, or I may just wait until the girls are older.... I don't "have" to make them each year. :)

fawnda said...

I love simi-homemade... it is my favorite way to cook!

Great ideas!

Rachel said...

I can't wait to try what you're making, Liz--I'm a huge fan of nuts and cereal in melted stuff! One of the moms who will be there Thurs. always makes these rocky road bars, and it's just marshmallows, peanuts, and chocolate, but they are soooo good.

Lindsay, I love recreating old recipes, too, and I think it's wonderful that you are able to make them or not. Would you be willing to share the five minute fudge recipe? I love fudge, but I'm intimidated by it! ;)

Donna, glad you liked the cookies! Fawnda, I agree, semi-homemade is the way to go! :)