Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Present: Cookies

Someone - it might have been me - had a bright idea at November's book club meeting. Instead of reading a book in December, we'd all bake cookies! And then we would bring the cookies to the meeting and exchange them! We could nosh and chat and make plans for the next year. And leave with cookies! Cookies, cookies, cookies! Well, it seemed like a swell idea in November.

This past Friday, I peeked at my calendar. The little boxes for this weekend had somehow gotten crammed full. Breakfast with Santa, setting up for the school's Christmas store, selling scrip (I really should write a post about that sometime), and the list went on. The cookie exchange was starting to look more and more like a bad idea. I've never really been one to back off a challenge, though. In fact, I made the challenge more interesting by filling every spare moment with video games instead of cookie making. Cookies taste better if they're made at the last possible moment, right?

I decided to make pinwheels. I reasoned that if I could make a jelly roll, then I could make pinwheels. Besides, Joy of Cooking claimed that people bought the entire book on the strength of the refrigerator cookie dough recipe. Clearly, this was a good plan!

At seven on Saturday evening, Jake manned the mixer while I dumped in the ingredients. The dough was very sticky, so I decided to chill it for a bit before attempting to roll and layer it. Around 9 or so, I decided it was chilled enough. I put on the kettle so that I could have a cup of tea when I was finished. I assembled the paraphernalia and began to roll. Then I remembered that I cannot use a rolling pin. I did manage to somehow get the dough to a relatively uniform 1/8" thickness, but it required copious amounts of flour and the end product was more shredded amoeba than smooth oblong.

I turned off the whistling kettle and soldiered on. I rolled another oblongish sheet of dough. I put sheet 1 on top of sheet 2, yanked off the waxed paper, and very nearly put sheet two into the garbage can. It was still attached to the wax paper. After several more attempts, I actually managed to get the sheets together and roll them into a very bumpy looking log. Then I tackled the second set. All told, it took me an hour and twenty minutes to create two logs of cookies. The recipe claimed that they would yield 120 cookies but I had my doubts. I shoved them in the fridge and went to bed.

Sunday morning, I got up before the kids (!!) and headed to the kitchen to bake. After slicing the first roll, it was painfully clear that I was going to be short at least a dozen cookies. I scraped the remaining sugar out of the bin to make another batch - even forgoing sugar in my coffee in order to have enough for the dough. Then, miracle of miracles, I had enough cookies! I stacked them 3 across, 3 down, and 6 up. I counted and recounted. Yes! Six dozen cookies! I did a happy dance in the kitchen, then went on about my day with the extra dough safely in the fridge.

After lunch, at t minus one hour, I started packaging up the cookies. I swatted Nick's hand away, "I barely have six dozen. You can't eat them. I know it doesn't look like six dozen, but it is. I counted and recounted." Nick looked at me, opened his mouth, then shut it again. Then, my poor math hit me square between the eyes. I was 18 cookies short. Somehow, I managed to roll, laminate, slice, and bake the dough I'd put in the fridge earlier. I made the 18 extra cookies, and packaged up all six dozen in a frenzy.

I arrived at the party two minutes late to discover that the hostess wasn't home. She had been delayed at the tree lot and had sent her mother over to open the door for us. As I arranged my cookies on the table, I noted that the hostess had only packaged up 10 cookies per package. My mother in law arrived with 4 dozen toffee bars and 2 dozen snowballs because she had also miscounted. I closed my mouth up tight and accepted the compliments on my lovely cookies. All the same, I don't think I'll suggest repeating the cookie exchange next year. Maybe we can roast chestnuts instead.


Mary Witzl said...

You're going to hate this: every year I bake some three hundred cookies -- ten batches of about thirty each. I've done this for about sixteen years, and I just hope it makes up for all the things I DON'T do at Christmas. This year I'm way behind. I haven't sent any packages, written any cards -- nothing. I feel awful about it, but I'm hoping for some last-minute miracle to save me. And now it's time for me to start baking cookies.

The truth is, anytime you see that little bit that says 'Makes 3 dozen cookies,' just knock off one dozen. I've never found a recipe that didn't lie about this.

Christy said...

I don't hate it! I'm in awe of it! You should go be best friends with Chelsea at She's a veteran cookie baker as well. I'm good with drop cookies and bars. It's just the rolling pin that gets me.

Kelley said...

My mom friends and I do a cookie exchange each year -- and really, the cookies are secondary, but we all haul something in for the excuse of a social evening with people we really like. This year, one of the ladies dragged herself and her cookies in, despite having cared for her sick self and family for 10 days prior. They had a horrid stomach bug and she was near tears she was so exhausted, but she was there. And she had cookies. And all the rest of us ate her cookies and took them home to our families. And this morning, three of us woke up to at least one member of the family throwing up.

Got a little more than cookies this year....and has me wondering if maybe next year we should forego the baking frenzy too.

cheribear said...

I think you should have a present-wrapping party next year. That's another holiday task made easier with company. :)

Christy said...

Oh gross, Kelley! Now I'm definitely not suggesting a cookie exchange next year! That's horrible. I hope that you are all healthy soon.

Cheri - Brilliant!