Tuesday, December 12, 2006


“Try this,” I commanded, sticking a cookie in front of JG’s nose. I had detected an error in my execution and wanted to see if the batch was salvageable. It was Sunday and fairly late in the evening for making cookies.

He took a bite. “Um, I think it’s fine. What’s wrong?”
“An extra stick of butter! I forgot that a stick was a half cup, and I used an extra stick of butter!”
“Well, it’s moist, all right.”

My office has an annual cookie swap for the holidays and I thought it would be nice to send a batch of snickerdoodles, my swapping cookie of choice, to our headquarters in San Francisco. This crepe-like batch was supposed to be for my co-workers out west and I could not send them the fat-laden cookies with a clear conscience. I tipped the unbaked balls of dough into the trash, along with the cookies that had spread from their own continental drift. I had baked Pangaea on my hands, extra-fatty.

“I am such a baking failure this weekend,” I complained dramatically.
“That is so not true. Two out of the three things you baked this weekend came out right.”

Okay, fine. It had been a highly domesticated weekend for me and it wasn’t all bad. I made another loaf of no-knead bread (now informally dubbed “weekend bread” at our house) that came out all crusty and wonderful; it sacrificed itself to give us top-notch grilled cheese sandwiches yesterday. I also experimented with miniature pumpkin cheesecakes intended for my family at Christmas. I’m pretty good at regular-sized cheesecake and individual portions of anything can be so darn cute, so I couldn’t resist. They ended up quite tasty, but I just don’t think cheesecake is a finger food. JG and I peeled off the cupcake wrappers and weren’t sure what to do with it. Just shove it in your mouth? It seemed rather coarse for what I had thought would have been a dainty finger food. What was the point of mini cheesecake if you have to get a fork to eat it? I may as well just make the normal big cheesecake since I know what I’m doing.

Then the buttery snickerdoodles. I was irritated primarily because I’ve made those cookies since nursery school, rolling the balls of dough with my mom at the kitchen island. Shouldn’t I know how to make them by now? I love watching the cookies rise up into little cinnamony hemispheres and then crumple back up later on, giving the impression of a perpetually furrowed brow. Baking is a mysterious alchemy to me; you start with humble ingredients and end up with something totally different and delicious from the properties of gluten and protein. JG chuckles at me crouching, entranced, in front of the oven door. But this time, I had to wash a sinkful of dishes, an additional source of annoyance, for cookies that ended up unbaked and in the trash can.

That’s how, today, I ended up making my third batch of cookies in three days. I shipped out yesterday’s batch out to San Francisco and tonight’s four dozen are packed up for the cookie swap on Thursday. Tomorrow holds yet another workout for my mixer, but making JG’s chocolate chip cookie birthday cake should be fun. If nothing else, I look forward to an adventure with frosting...

1 comment:

janet said...

yummmmm snickerdoodles. I make a mean snickerdoodle too, but I am a shortening gal, not a butter gal (blame my mother). They key is underbaking them so they stay soft, don't you think?

Now I'm hungry!