Thursday, December 27, 2012

One Sweet Leads To Another

Before I begin, I should let you know that there are no recipes in this post. There will be pictures and descriptions of lovely treats and a lot of talk about why I make 'em but if you are looking for recipes... read no further.  Not that I don't want to share - just not what this one is about.

I love to bake.  I love to make cookies, cupcakes, candy, etc. I don't go in for all the fancy schmancy details that make for the beautiful pastries you see on the Food Network.  I lack the patience and fine motor skills for that.  When I try it, I usually end up with a barely passable, but still exceedingly delicious version of what the pros deliver.

However, that doesn't keep me from making all manner of sweets.  I'm not one for false modesty and they are usually pretty fantastic. I am also the first to criticize if they are not.  But usually, if I'm making a cupcake, I want it to be epic. For example, my latest endeavor was a cookie dough cupcake that had a chocolate chip cookie base, chocolate ganache filling, buttery chocolate chip cake, a thin layer of ganache icing and a PILE of cookie dough frosting made with Biscoff spread. Yeah.  There was a LOT going on there and it was all good!

I have found, particularly this time of year, my treat making gets out of control. It's a bit because it's winter time.  It's a bit because of the holidays. It's a bit because we do a lot of entertaining  It's a bit because I have a crazy sweet tooth but it's a lot because one thing leads to another.

For example. We had a party in early December for which I made shots of Cherry Mousse in Chocolate Cups. To make cherry mousse I needed confectioners sugar and unflavored gelatin among other things.  Weeks passed, holiday baking/candy making ensued and a lot of cookies, fudge and other assorted tasties were churned out. Festive containers filled the kitchen. There was nothing else I needed to do in preparation for the holidays. NOTHING!

Well, except, I had that pesky unflavored gelatin and confectioner's sugar in the house just sitting in the cabinet doing nothing. Seemed an awful waste. Those ingredients were calling my name.
"JT!  We are confectioner's sugar and gelatin!  Alone, we are two simple ingredients but TOGETHER, we can be so much more! A little of this and a little of that and you've got MARSHMALLOWS!  C'mon!  Give us a try! You KNOW you've always wanted to make marshmallows. You'd could have us in the pan in no time!"
And then there were Marshmallows.  And they were awesome!

Side bar:  If you want to amaze and astound your family and friends, make marshmallows. As long as you know how to read a candy thermometer, they are a cinch.  A sticky messy cinch but a cinch nonetheless and I had dozens of people say "I didn't know you could MAKE marshmallows!" and "These are just like marshmallows but BETTER."

A week or so later, I was poking around on the evil time-sucker known as Pinterest and I was reminded that I had wanted to try 3 ingredient Nutella cookies. Again, the holidays had yet to happen.  There was no shortage of goodies in the house. There was NOTHING I needed to do. But again, those three ingredients were in the cupboard whispering to me.
"So simple.  Nutella, flour and egg.  A quick whizz in the mixer and 8 short minutes in the oven.  Couldn't be easier!"
A half hour later, there were Nutella cookies. They were super easy too. (No pic of the Nutella cookies at this point because this was not their final destiny.. read on for the rest of their story.)

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not good with the fine details of cookies and cakes that are supposed to make them look extra pretty. I prefer adjectives like "rustic" and "hand-crafted". But I decided to try my hand at these cutie-pie peanut butter reindeer cookies.

They tasted great but the assembly sucked. I had to work so quickly while they were hot and the antlers didn't stay on for sh*t.  Also, I underestimated how many chocolate covered pretzels I needed and ended up making "Max" (from the Grinch) cookies.  I'm often asked why I don't do this professionally.  This is one of the reasons why. I don't do well planning this type of stuff out and nobody would be pleased to pay for my improvisations.

Max (The Grinch) Cookies.  The result of my poor ingredient estimations.
If you are familiar with the expression "You eat with your eyes." you may be able to guess that these weren't the most popular item on the dessert table. By the time Christmas rolled around most of these guys had one or less antlers and little smudges of chocolate all over them.  They looked like they'd been rolled down a muddy hill.  I had a lot of delicious but mutilated peanut butter reindeer left after Christmas so I heard the call of ingredients again.
"Here we are in the cupboard.  Just a handy dandy bag of peanut butter chips.  Just melt us up, rip off their eyes, nose and whatever antlers remain and drop those little deer in a scalding hot pool of delicious peanut butter coating!"
Reading this over, I am growing concerned for my mental well-being. Apparently, food talks to me and tells me to hurt innocent cookies.
A normal person would've just thrown out the leftover reindeer-fail. Christmas was over. I didn't need to make more cookies.  But I am far from normal.  Half hour later, I had these.

Yes.  These were very delicious.
My husband is the first person to yell at me for making him fat.  He can walk away from the candies but has no will-power for cookies or cupcakes. They are usually in the house for a day or two before he says "Get these the hell out of here!". Then I bring them to work to the delight/chagrin of my co-workers.  Alas, at this time we were on holiday break so these babies weren't going anywhere.  My husband ate them and said, "Those peanut butter cookies are awesome. You should coat the Nutella cookies in Nutella coating."
"What?!?!   Is that a challenge!??!  Are you insulting the existing cookies?!?! How dare you, sir!  I'll show you!"
Ta-da!  Nutella Dipped Cookies!
Nutella Dipped Cookies
As if that weren't enough, I found myself with some leftover coating.  I certainly couldn't let that go to waste.  Could I?

I glanced at the counter that was still laden with Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge, Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Rods, Oreo Bark, Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Crackle Cookies, Pistachio Brittle, Hand-Cut Marshmallows, Peanut Butter Coated Cookies and now, Nutella Dipped Cookies.  I believe the counter may have been buckling under the weight, much like the floor beneath my families' feet will be if we keep eating like this. Yes, I glanced at that abundance, then glanced at the garbage pail that I could so easily scrape the leftover coating into... and proceeded to make Nutella Fudge.

Nutella Fudge
This madness has to end. Seriously!  Is there a 12-step program for this? Over-bakers Anonymous?

Anyone who visits us or gets a visit from us in the next two weeks is going to be going to get a care package. January 1st and resolutions are looming. So, if this post made you hungry, and before the diet starts, invite me over!

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