Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Lookie? Christmas Cookie?

It was a lovely Christmastime for me, but my poor Mike was sick as hell. With a sore throat, wicked congestion, and a stomach virus, he was in a constant state of misery, and all but banned from attending Christmas Eve at his parents' house and Christmas Day at my parents' place. I'm sure that it sounds harsh, but he was more than happy to alternate between staying in bed and taking long showers. And as of today, he's feeling much better.Thank you, Dayquil and Nyquil!

I've been busy though - between working until the 23rd, giving K-10 a place to crash, and attending as many Christmas events as possible, I decided to make cookies. A perfectly sane decision on my part, I'm sure.

I settled on two very different cookies, for no good reason. I'm sure that I could have made sugar cookies with ease, but why do that when you can make complicated shortbread cookies and gingerbread men?

So, gingerbread. I've never made gingerbread cookies before, and I'm glad that I waited until my 30th year on Earth before attempting the recipe, because I most certainly would have run away in terror had I tried with less baking experience under my belt. I'm not saying that they're difficult to make, but... Have you ever made gingerbread cookies before?

I was halfway through the recipe - I had creamed the butter and sugar, added the egg, it was looking lovely, la di dah, and it was time to add the molasses. I made sure to buy the "unsulphered" kind, as per the recipe instructions, and even though I have NO IDEA what that means, I know not to mess with directions when baking. One false move can ruin a recipe.

So I had this molasses, right?

What the hell is "blackstrap?" And Brer Rabbit? Really? My best guess is that it's made with bits of real rabbit, so you know it's good.

The smell though... oh my sweet God. It smelled like - and I am not kidding you - a cross between motor oil and barbecue sauce. I almost didn't make the cookies. Have you ever cooked with molasses? What the holy fuck is it anyway?

Yes, the dough really is supposed to look like a lump of poo.

Of course, they turned out just fine, but I definitely think that they are an acquired taste with the bitterness of the molasses. I'm not going to show you the Jackson Pollock-looking icing that ended up on the cookies, mostly because they have been eaten.

About to lose their heads.

The shortbread cookies are these crazy weird ones with pinenuts, rosemary, and lemon zest. I've made them before, and my dad loves them. It has become a sort of Christmas tradition, and I'm happy to make them for him. Of course, it usually helps to have everything on hand before getting the recipe underway, and my super sweet rasp was nowhere to be found. An important piece of equipment when zesting a lemon, and ultimately instrumental in making the recipe a success, there was no other solution but to find a new one.

So at ten o'clock at night on December 23rd, K-10 and I went to Macy's, Target, and Kohl's in search of a replacement (I think that it was at Mike's, but I haven't even thought to search for it). Also, did you know that Macy's was open for twenty-four hours? That's insane.

It wasn't until the next morning, after our traditional Christmas Eve breakfast, that we journeyed to Kerrytown and I found what I was looking for at Hollander's. And then K-10 headed to the hell on earth that is her mother's house, and I commenced with the shortbread baking.


Merry Christmas Cookies!


JLR said...

I'm guessing you weren't supposed to use blackstrap molasses. That stuff isn't what you usually use for baking (a mistake I have made). You should try again next year with regular unsulphured molasses. I'd be interested in seeing how they turn out. They certainly look exactly like a gingerbread man should look!

Heather said...

jlr - Good call. I confused two recipes. This is the one that I was supposed to make, and this is the one that I didn't make, but must have had stuck in my head. You can see from the picture in the Real Simple recipe that the cookies were nowhere near as dark as mine.

They were really, really good though, so there's that!

JLR said...

That's actually even better, because now you have your own recipe that no one else has.

Kristen said...

They were totally awesome, especially that head that I broke off. And thanks again for letting me crash on the best. couch. ever. In a place that actually had heat.

Heather said...

jlr - True, true. And they tasted really good. Maybe I'll try both in the future.

k-10 - I love that you love my $50 couch so much.