Sunday, November 24, 2013

That's How My Cookie Crumbles

Not to brag or anything, but (Spoiler Alert: Bragging Ahead!) I make awesome cinnamon rolls. My cinnamon rolls are so light and fluffy you'll think St. Peter himself took them out of the oven just in time to greet you at the pearly gates.

My caramel pecan rolls have made a grown woman (me) cry. My breads and rolls are airy and flaky at least 90% of the time. I once made a batch of kolaches so buttery and rich that they made even the most die-hard kolache haters love kolaches.

So why can't I make slice and bake cookies?

My point is I can bake. I can bake the heck out of things. Just call me Queen Betty Jo Crocker-Pillsbury.

So why can't I make slice and bake cookies?

I can bake. But sometimes I don't want to bake. When I get a hankering for a hot, gooey, chocolate chip cookie (preferably with pecans) I barely have time to preheat the oven, let alone mix thoroughly. When I'm jonesin' for a cookie, the time and effort required for homemade, is more time and effort than I have.

All those aforementioned rolls, buns and breads have nothing to do with me being some sort of baking savant. I'm not the dough whisperer. All I do is read and follow the recipe, cross my fingers and hope for the best.

With slice and bake you don't even have to follow a recipe. There is no measuring. No proofing the yeast. No letting the dough rest or punching it down.

There are only two vital instructions: “Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 11-12 minutes.”

How can two more minutes possibly make the difference between an oozing lump of raw dough and a dried-out charcoal briquet?

And yet, that's what I made. One dozen mummified, chocolate chip hockey pucks.

Chockey pucks.

I needed a cookie fix bad. I made a special trip to the store, dusted off the cookie sheets, and even waited for the oven to preheat. Soon the aroma of baking cookies filled the house. I ran to the oven when the timer (I used a timer!) went off, but those anemic, melty blobs were far from “golden brown.”

Back in the oven they went. Two minutes on the timer.

In an instant, the house-warming smell of baking was replaced by the house-clearing stench of carbonized cookies. I tried to snatch edibility from the jaws of defeat by quickly transferring the cookies from the pan to the cooling rack. But the damage was done, and the cookies were over-done.

“Ohhh, they're fine,” I told the Little Prince. “Just a little on the done side. See? Not a speck of black,” I said, showing him the bottom of a cookie. And it was true. Somehow they managed to burn from the inside out. There was no visible sign of burnt-ness. That's what made the taste test such a surprise.

The Little Prince stood by my side, waiting expectantly for my reaction as I took a bite. (Would I gag? Break a tooth?) I didn't say a word, but my labored chewing (and the loud crunching) must have been clue enough. He smiled and patted my arm, then took a handful of Oreos and snuck out of the kitchen.

My wonderful husband picked up two cookies and disappeared into his office. I haven't checked his trash can, but I wouldn't blame him if he threw the cookies away. That was my first thought when I bit into my cookie.

The Princess returned home. “Mmmmm, what smells so good?”

“Burnt cookies.”

“They smell delicious. It can't be that ba...”. She took one look at the chockey pucks and made herself a bag of microwave popcorn.

My Grandma once ruined a pan of Rice Krispie treats. I don't know if it was the marshmallows or the cereal or what, but those were the driest, most tasteless desert I had ever eaten. Until my last batch of slice and bake cookies.

I've been told that Grandma used to bake angel food cakes. From scratch. Multiple cakes at a time.

I wonder how she would have done with slice and bake cookies.

1 comment:

  1. Jo, fortunately hurricane season was over for the year. Scott will tell you that chocolate chip cookies are an absolute necessity (that and some cold milk) for riding out a hurricane.