Friday, May 13, 2016

Mystery Cookies! (Or, Cleaning out my Cabinet)

Hello everyone! I've missed you! It's been a whirlwind of travel and work stresses but things are finally slowing down enough for me to do some baking! Well, at least slowing down for approximately one month. Then there's chaos again. But chaos is fun too! Anyway.....

Baking! This afternoon, I felt inspired to bake. No particular reason, no particular occasion. Just felt like it was time to bake. And even better, I have a new project in mind! For my bridal shower, someone brilliant decided that a fun activity would be for everyone attending the shower to bring a baking recipe for me to try. I have a lovely basket of recipe notecards which range from cookies to cakes to approximately six cheesecake recipes and are a lovely mixture of hand-written family recipes, computer printouts, and (no joke) typewritten recipe notecards. So obviously, a year after my wedding, it's time to try some of these out!

I bet reading all of that you thought I was going to try one of those recipes. You would be incorrect. It was my intent. However, it turned out that I didn't have the ingredients to complete any single recipe. And it is raining. So you can bet I wasn't going outside for ingredients. I was strongly leaning towards a family recipe for almond bars because surely I must have almonds but alas, I didn't. Hmm. So I got creative. In my vain hunt for almonds, I found a 1/4 bag of toffee bits and a 1/3 bag of pecans. I'm not sure how long they've been laying around (don't worry, they were properly double sealed) but I decided it was long past time to use them up. So I made up a recipe. I decided to go with a good ol' Nestle Toll House base and add about half the chocolate chips, the remaining pecans, and the toffee bits. Sounds reasonable right? Off to the KitchenAid!

Ok, so I haven't really baked in a while. It hasn't made me rusty but it has made me lazy. For instance, a teaspoon of vanilla extract? Why would I bother measuring that? I just eyeballed and poured. I didn't level out the flour at all and just eyeballed that too. I know these are things I shouldn't do but hey, I'm making up a recipe! So who cares! That said, actually combining all of the ingredients was quite easy. I just jammed away listening to an episode of the Gilmore Guys podcast in my kitchen. (On an unrelated note, check out that podcast, whether or not you like Gilmore Girls because it's just absurdly funny.) I opted to use my big cookie scoop because I had to be sure to get nuts and chocolate chips and toffee bits into each cookie so the result was that instead of my usual yield of about 3.5 dozen cookies, I got about 2 dozen cookies. They're really big cookies.

Let's also discuss the weird science of these cookies. Huge cookies always cook strangely because the middle doesn't deflate until the very end and, in fact, sometimes doesn't deflate until you take them out of the oven. That wasn't the issue though. The issue was that I feel like the toffee bits all ended up on the bottoms of the cookies because the bottoms have an almost caramelized, melted toffee quality to them. Take a look:

I mean, they look fine but I was very afraid that they were going to burn. But who cares how they do they taste?!? They taste tasty! I didn't really get much toffee flavor from them and since they're big cookies, you never really know what kind of a bite you're going to get. Will it have chocolate? Will it have nuts? Will it have both?? You just don't know. But they are definitely tasty. As was the cookie's worth of raw cookie dough that I definitely didn't eat during the baking process. Not a chance.

It's nice to be back in the kitchen. Look forward to some more adventures from yours truly! I'll try for something more complex next time.

A Disney Moment: Winnie the Pooh

Let me preface this by saying that when we started this project, Winnie the Pooh was just about to be released. So we almost neatly were able to watch and rate the first 50 Disney animated features (Tangled being number 50) but given how long it took to watch all the movies, we also had to add Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-it Ralph, and Frozen to the list. Since we finished the project, I've also seen Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. So, to summarize, our original ratings were based on a group of 3 but in the time it's taken me to write blog posts, we're now up to a group of five. All caught up? Good.

Regardless of how I'm doing my ratings, Winnie the Pooh is a solid 5/5. I don't like Winnie the Pooh. I don't know why we had a second one. It somehow just didn't work for me. This shouldn't surprise anyone because I didn't like the first one either. I wish I knew why because I enjoy the characters a lot and I have fond recall of them from my childhood. But to me, they don't work in the context of a full-length feature. I want it to work but it doesn't to me. Especially in the context of this new wave of excellent animated films, I really find that Winnie the Pooh falls short. Oh bother.