I am not a baker.
Well, wait a minute. That’s not strictly true. I make bread. I love to make bread. And I’ll throw together a quick biscuit to go with a soup for supper. Also, I have this brownie recipe from my mom that whips up easy in 20 minutes with one bowl, a spoon, some measuring cups and a nine by nine pan. But beyond that?
I’d rather buy my cookies.
As with lots of stuff surrounding the holidays, I had great intentions for Christmas baking. My mom always used to do lots, starting sometime at the beginning of December and freezing the cookies in old yogurt containers. She brought out a whole spread for us to munch on as we opened our gifts together on Christmas Eve. I wanted to do the same. Of course, we are two people rather than five, so those old yogurt containers would be crucial to the preservation of my waist line. But, as of last night, I hadn’t touched my canister of flour in months. True, it’s not Christmas yet, but I am steadily running out of time.
So, last night, I pulled out a couple bowls, stacked a huge list of ingredients on my counter and went to work.
The problem I have with baking? I don’t know how to substitute. These Black-Bottom Coconut Bars would probably have been delicious if I had actually checked to make sure I have coconut before I set to work. By the time I realized it, the ‘black-bottom’ was already in the oven – there was no going back. No worries! I have oatmeal! Oatmeal replaces coconut perfectly in the chocolate macaroons I make.
No. Just. No.
Frustrated with the flop I pulled out of the oven, I turned my attention to the ginger cookies. No substitutions there. Well. Almost no substitutions. I cooked these up in batches. The first batch, I rolled in icing sugar before pressing down with the bottom of a cup. The cookies that came out didn’t taste bad – if slightly overcooked – but looked just slightly sickly. I switched over to the recommended granulated sugar for the second batch. Each cookie came out brown with the slightest shimmer of sugary stars on top.
I have one slight beef with this recipe: it’s peppery. Which, isn’t a terrible thing. Now that I’ve actually made ginger cookies, and then eaten the ginger cookies I made, I recognize that pepper is an important ingredient in them! I think this recipe though, may very well have a little too much pepper. They’ve got a bite. I would suggest cutting the pepper in half, down to a 1/4 of a teaspoon.
You can get two different kinds of ginger cookies out of this recipe: crunchy, perfect for dipping and getting crumbs all down your shirt; or chewy and soft. The difference is in just a minute or so in the oven. Bake for 9-10 minutes for a chewy cookie, just until their flattened and brown. Or, 11-12 minutes for a crunchy one. Be careful though; they’ll burn fast!
These cookies are delicious. But the whole baking extravaganza was overshadowed by the flop that sat on my stove taunting me – despite the Husband’s insistence that they really weren’t that bad – and the mess of bowls and flour spills and egg shells left behind to clean up.
Probably, I just need to bake more. But, you know… preserving my waist line and all that.
What are you guys baking for Christmas?
Martha’s Ginger Cookies
From Martha Stewart
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus some for coating
6 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg