last week, the hub asked me if i would consider baking up some cookies to give to his clerical staff along with their holiday bonuses. and of course, i said yes - i've done this before and besides, i love to bake. there were a ton of fun recipes i'd found that i wanted to try, and this gave me a great reason to do just that.
and then he e-mailed me from the office: "so, um, i just counted and there are 15 people on staff. is that okay?"
but i put my big girl panties on, sucked it up, and said "sure! no problem, i'll take care of it."
i'd picked up some small cake boxes at my favorite cake/candy supply store and decided i'd fill them with four different varieties of cookies. am i a glutton for punishment, or what? i checked out the betty crocker website, where i found a great selection of easy cookies using their sugar cookie mix. i couldn't decide whether or not that was still considered homemade or not, but after perusing the recipes i ultimately chose, the mix was just one of many ingredients. the cookies still took as much effort (if not more) as other recipes using the typical stuff like flour, sugar, baking powder, etc.
i hit up the grandparents to see if they minded me invading their kitchen for an afternoon while i whipped myself up into a baking frenzy. they've seen me in crazy mode before, prepping for the bean's birthday extravaganza, and have always been happy to open their home to me. plus, they have double ovens, and this was key since i was making 300 freaking cookies.
i gathered all of my supplies, left MIL to watch the napping bean at home, and headed off to get to work. i was already sweating from running around like mad, and when grandma let me in with a smile, i remembered something about hanging out with old folks when the thermostat drops below 70: they turn on the heater. holy shitballs, it was hot in there. grandma took one look at me and said "i know. if great-grandma doesn't hear the heater going, she gets mad because she says she's freezing. i'm gonna go turn it down to 70 (holy schnikey, what the hell was it set on?), and feel free to open the windows in the kitchen." i love her.
i spread all my baking paraphernalia out onto the counter, turned on both ovens, and dug in.
first up: caramel macchiato thumbprints. these sounded really good, and from the picture, presented well. lacking the instant espresso powder they called for, i subbed in some instant coffee crystals instead, and just tossed in an extra half teaspoonful to compensate for the strength.
the dough smelled fabulous as i mixed and mixed - by hand. i had a hand mixer AND a kitchenaid stand mixer at the ready, so i don't know what i was thinking. but hey, i got a good workout.
i scooped it out with a round tablespoon and then poked my finger in the middle to make a little well for the caramel topping that would come later.
while those were merrily baking, with a lovely aroma wafting through the house, i tackled the next flavor: ginger-lemon delights. this mixture smelled even better than the first, and went quite well with the christmas music CD the grandparents had put on.
these came out all cute and round and perfect.
the third flavor was something more fun: fudge and marshmallow-topped cocoa cookies. this was a really easy dough to mix, and i used my trusty cookie scoop to drop dollops onto the cookie sheet. per the instructions, i buttered the bottom of a drinking glass, dipped it in sugar, and flattened each ball out.
when the timer buzzed, i scurried over and topped each cookie with a marshmallow and then popped the sheet back in for a couple of minutes to soften them.
when they were done, i used a spatula to flatten the marshmallows a little. and again, the smell of these made my mouth water and my stomach whine a little. i'd had a mixup at mcdonald's, having ordered a mcrib and finding a nasty ass mcchicken in my bag instead, and i hadn't eaten much. oy.
i'd saved the easiest recipe for last: peanut butter blossoms. you mix the dough, shape it into 1-inch balls, bake, and stick a hershey's kiss in the middle. simple, right?
and yet it ended up being the most time-consuming to get into the ovens. i had to scoop out the dough, shape into balls, and roll in sugar before placing onto the baking sheets. and, i had to unwrap those damn kisses. pain. in. my. ass. i was happy to get to the last one of these.
when the baking portion of the afternoon was finally done - around three hours later - it was time to fill and ice and drizzle. i unwrapped caramels and melted them in the microwave for the first batch of cookies.
i dropped the gooey caramel into the indentations in each cookie, and then melted chocolate chips with a little shortening and used a ziploc bag to do the drizzle. fo' shizzle.
those marshmallow cookies got a little chocolate love, too.
finally, i iced those ginger-lemon cookies with a simple glaze of powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. they got a bit of chopped crystallized ginger on top, and then i was done at last. well, with the baking/icing part, anyway. i still had to bag and package them all.
look at this cookie insanity.
i thought it would be a nice touch to label the cookie bags so that the recipients would know what they were sinking their teeth into. told you i was a glutton for punishment. and maybe a little neurotic.
i bagged and labeled all 49782365978 cookies and then folded my cake boxes and lined them with tissue. the four bags fit perfectly - yay!
a little dazzle, a bit of sparkle, and some ribbon, and i was done at last.
one of the ornaments broke. oops. i wonder who'll get stuck with the sad little unadorned box.
i swear, if i get wind of any of these cookies landing in the trash, i'm gonna be pissed. i was on my feet for 7.5 hours working on this shit, stopping only to inhale a double-double from in-n-out that MIL so thoughtfully placed in front of me. and the bean was so good - she ran around and played and laughed and sang and entertained us all the entire time. the hub was quite appreciative and i just know he's gonna be a rock star when he hands these out. the folks in his office have enjoyed the fruits of my labor in the kitchen before, and i always get nice comments whenever i go in there to visit.
at home later, after i'd put the bean to bed and got some comfy sweats on, i whipped out another quick sheet of round labels. i'd realized that the boxes didn't have a greeting or the hub's name anywhere on them. those ladies get a lot of presents, and i wanted to make sure that these didn't get lost in the shuffle.
oh, and i'd somehow miscounted those fudge-marshmallow cookies and ended up with a nice pile of leftovers. oopsie. we actually took home a baggie of each kind of cookie, since 15 doesn't divide evenly into however many i ended up with after doubling the recipes. but those fudgy-marshmallowy morsels of happiness - oh mah gah. i highly recommend making those - they are so. dang. good. they really are just like a cup of cocoa in cookie form. the caramel macchiato thumbprints are a winner, too.
i think i'll have one right now.