Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ruminations on Christmas Cookies

So this Christmas, my lovely roommate and I decided to get our bake on just a bit. Our bake on as well as our drink on, evidenced by the Knob Creek in the background of this photo. (Actually that second bit is a joke; I can't drink bourbon with a straight face for the life of me.) Anyways, the five batches of cookies we baked required a disgusting amount of butter, somewhere north of 12 sticks; I'm not going to say exactly how many north as many of the readers of this blog ate the cookies we baked. Sorry for those of you who have hereditary tendencies towards high cholesterol.

The two cookie types I baked were white bark balls and chocolate chip cookies, which would eventually have white chocolate covering and fleur de sel topping respectively. In the above photo, the initial batters are sitting in the fridge to cool down for their respective times.

After the bark ball batter (love the alliteration) had cooled in the fridge for 24 hours, I took the balls out one by one and covered them each with melted white chocolate. I would like to point out at this time the smaller than normal "sheets" of wax paper I used; I realized around 8:45 at night that we didn't have any wax paper left. By 9 I was out the door, only to find that almost every grocery store in Cole Valley/Upper Haight/Ashbury Heights was closed or didn't sell wax paper. As a last resort, I went to the wine shop just off the Carl and Cole intersection, and asked the man behind the counter, "I know this is a long shot, but do you have any wax paper?" To which he responded, "You mean something like this?" as he pulled out the used backs of UPS labels. "Well, yes I responded. But a few more. I'm baking cookies." The wine merchant then proceeded to take the UPS labels off all the wax covered backs he had and said, "I don't care, it's just UPS that's paying for it." Ha. A man after my own heart...and a man that allowed me to finish baking my white bark balls.

And here they are, the finished product! On some of them, I sprinkled little mint crumbles, which made for nice decoration.

And so now, back to my chocolate chip cookies. So after, 72 hours of refrigeration, I took the batter out, made little golf ball sized balls, sprinkled salt atop each ball, and put them into the oven at 350.

And here, my friends, is the glorious results of possibly the most delicious chocolate chip cookies you have ever tasted. For serious. Especially when they were fresh out of the oven. I would like you all to pay note to how the chocolate chips melt into the batter itself. The recipe I used called for dark chocolate disks rather than chocolate chips so the chocolate morsels have a larger surface area and thus exposure to heat so they melt that extra little bit. YUM! And the salt on top makes these by far the most complex (in a good way) chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten.

My lovely roommate Nikki took a different approach to her baking and baked two types of cookies that were rolled out and cut with cookies cutters as well as a batch of oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate cookies that I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of. In any event, above is pictured her sugar cookies just about to go into the oven.

Here are her sugar cookies just after they have left the oven and are cooling. Please note the delightful golden brown edges that are evidence of a perfectly cooked sugar cookie.

So every year around Christmas time, there is an onslaught of sweets and other tooth rotting treats, some of which are delicious and some of which (like say fruit cake) are horrible, but in the end, all of it looks good. So after Nikki's and my little adventure in cookie baking, I think the point of Christmas cookies isn't if they actually taste good or not (although, all of ours were amazing, of course) but if they look good.

Case in point.

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