Wednesday, December 24, 2008
When I was growing up my mom baked like a mad woman for Christmas. Not only did she make cookies of all kinds, she also made candy - chocolate covered cherries, peanut butter cups, peanut butter balls, chocolate covered pretzels, and chocolate candies. She made them in quantities in the hundreds. Our house was full of baking from Thanksgiving until the New Year.
Being just the right age, around eight or nine, I was the perfect helper. I rolled the balls for the peanut butter cups, filled the molds with chocolate, dipped pretzels, mixed chocolate covered cherry filling, popped the candies out of the molds after they were frozen and set, whatever needed to be done. My mom made candy trays and gave them out throughout the holidays, but we still had more than enough left over to last us several months.
Our Christmas tradition was to eat candy and drink eggnog all morning while opening gifts. I know, my parents were absolutely crazy to give four kids a sugar high on the most excitable day of the year. Then we would go to my grandmother's house for big Christmas dinner. I'm surprised I never got sick or I didn't grow up obese. But for my parents, Christmas Day was a day to indulge, and that's what they did. My favorite thing about Christmas day was that it was a time set aside for family. We never went to church or visited friends. We spent the entire day together and we always had a good time.
My mom hasn't baked like that for years. And I haven't really either. If I ever have a decent sized kitchen I'd like to make candy again, in much smaller quantities. I might skip the chocolate covered cherries though. I really got sick of the filling over the years. It's so sugary sweet that just a little of it would make me feel ill. They were my mom's favorite though, so I never minded making them too much.
This year I made cookies to get back into the tradition a little. I decided on two recipes mentioned in my previous post - Pioneer Woman's molasses cookies and fudgy dark chocolate chip with raspberry filling cookies.
The first two batches of molasses cookies didn't turn out well. What I didn't realize is that I needed to add 3/4 cup of shortening instead of 1/2 cup. I don't know how I got the measurement wrong, but the cookies turned hard after a day. Unfortunately these were two batches that I gave to a couple of guys in the office who worked after hours for a project of mine. I'm sure they won't want my cookies again. :/
The third batch turned out wonderful, I think. The cookies spread further on the baking sheet and I didn't need to cook them as long. I haven't tried one yet because I'm afraid that I'll eat them all.
Then I moved on to the fudgy cookies. They were extremely simple, so simple I felt like I was cheating. But once the batter was mixed I knew they were exactly the type of cookie I wanted to go with the chocolate raspberry pieces I had. The batter was the perfect consistency.
Since I had some sugar left over from rolling the molasses cookies I rolled the fudgy cookies in the sugar before baking, just for a little extra touch of sweetness.
In the end, both batches look similar, although they're both very different cookies.
Sometimes with the Dreaded Oven I forget how much I enjoy cooking.