Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Confessions of a Kitchen Klutz: Projectile Cookies

My mother was an excellent cook, but she didn't see the point in baking. To her it was more work than the payoff.

But, once in a while, she would buy these microwavable cake mixes. For real, they sold those. You opened the box; put the mix in the pan provided, added water, an egg, stirred with a fork, nuked the whole thing and presto! Cake!

Sometimes she would get creative and add a fruit or some chocolate chips to the mix. And, well, when she wasn’t looking and she let me mix them up, I liked to add things too – nuts, extra sugar, honey, that sort of thing. Once I added an extra egg because I liked cracking eggs. Turns out, extra eggs in microwave cake mix will make the result kind of a slimy-rubbery Jell-O like bread thing.

I tell you the above to explain how I could grow up, get married, have a child, and STILL not know that you can't just improvise what you throw into a baking recipe without some basic knowledge of what various ingredients will do to said recipe.  You really can't.

The story I am about to tell you is true. This was the first time, on my own (well I had my six-year-old as back-up) and without adult supervision I tried to bake cookies. I was nearly 30. I rarely had baking type ingredients on hand.

The ingredients I did have on hand were probably given to me out of pity and concern, or possibly left behind by someone who used my kitchen once and had to run to a grocery store to do so successfully. So, the things I had were likely to be old and no longer the proper consistency …not that I would know the difference.

This is how the cookies were supposed to be made: 

1 cup shortening, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 - 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the shortening and both sugars. Then add eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda and salt. Once the shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda and salt mixture is all creamed together, add the chocolate chips. Mix together, well. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about 9-12 minutes or until golden brown.

This is what actually happened: 


I didn’t have shortening. In the entire time I lived in the house, I cannot say with any kind of certainty that I had ever purchased shortening. No worries. I had butter, unfortunately when melted it only filled about a half cup so I supplemented with olive oil. That’s probably better for you anyway.

White Sugar:

Had it! Totally had it!

Brown sugar:

Had that too, it was a little hard, which made it pretty hard to get in to the measuring cup, but my lovely six-year-old apprentice and I had a heck of a lot of fun pounding the bag of it against the counter until we could break off about a cup worth. And the olive oil supplement I mentioned above really helped with the “creaming” part of it.

Two Eggs:

I had exactly 2. Unfortunately, I did not go with my first instinct of not letting the six-year-old handle them on her own. About an egg and a half made it into the bowl. You know, roughly.


I was not currently stocking this ingredient in ice cream or extract form. I went with Rum extract, ‘cause THAT I did have and I am not sure what else I was supposed to do with it. Extract is extract, that’s how I figured it.


This is where it got tricky.  I did have flour, but since I had anticipated not having chocolate chips, I thought it might help sweeten the cookies up if I were to replace the flour with chocolate cake mix. But then in the end, the dough looked a little thin, so I also added a cup of actual flour, too.

Baking Soda:

I didn't have soda (that’s the yellow box in the fridge usually right? Mine was missing) so I used baking powder. Baking soda/baking powder: just two nearly identical forms of witchcraft in my book.


Had it! Woop woop!

Chocolate chips:

I didn't have those. But it did occur to me that I had, like, you know, more than half a bucket of Halloween candy left. Did you know it’s not that hard to cut up caramel squares and Hershey bars? And M&Ms don’t even need to be cut.

The few times before this when I tried to make cookies, I got flat mush that was baked onto a pan and had to be scraped off. (Who am I kidding? I just threw the pan away.)

On this attempt, my lovely little assistant and I got a very circular and cohesive (it’s not always easy to make them circular or cohesive) chocolate cookies. They looked delicious.

Revelling in my success, I took several to work on a crystal plate the next day to show off and share.  They had tasted fairly good, honestly, fresh out of the oven. But I guess something must have happened in them overnight – chemically or something. Because when my coworkers bit into them…well there was this “look” that came onto their faces.

Eventually word spread or something, because a crowd actually began to gather around my desk, to “see” the cookies I brought. Yeah. People came just to…look.

And then, one person got curious and threw one at the wall. Yep, for real, at work, someone threw my home baked cookie at the wall. And the most interesting thing happened. For the Buffy fans, you know that moment where Buffy stakes a vamp and it just turns to dust and dissipates into nothing?

That’s what happened to the cookie when it hit the wall. And the next, and the next, and the next.

I imagine the night cleaning crew was horrified. 

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