Friday, December 10, 2010
Close Enough Cookies
Does everyone else have someone in their life like I do, someone who is such a paragon of every virtue, that she's impossible to match? Like Mary Poppins, she's practically perfect in every way.
One of the highlights of the Christmas season for my family is the arrival of the annual Christmas card/newsletter from Mary Poppins. There is, of course, the family portrait. All the children wear matching outfits, usually in velvet and lace. Nary a rip, hole, or stain in sight. And they're all smiling. And they don't look like they just got bribed to stop punching each other. Weird.
Then comes the best part - the newsletter highlights of the year. Each child is profiled, pointing out their excellence in all possible areas of achievement. The guest seat in the orchestra, the blue ribbon at the state-wide debate competition, the early admission to college, the full scholarship to Oxford, the governor's award for starting an outreach mission to homeless people, an orphanage in Africa, and bringing meals to shut-ins daily. And that's just the kids. The adults would be named saints, if they were Catholic.
I don't send out a newsletter. There's no way I can compete with that. I do, however, sometimes think it would be fun to send out an anti-newsletter. It would read something like this:
I hope this letter finds you all well. It's been such an exciting year for us, that I can't wait to share it all.
Garth, our oldest, is doing exceptionally well. He's gotten such high letters of commendation, that we're very hopeful that they'll knock some time off his sentence. He might be out as soon as spring. Not too, soon, though, as he still needs to complete his vocational training in the joint, learning to sew jumpsuits. No point in getting out if he still has to hold up gas stations to pay the rent! LOL
Cletus is loving his school classes. He's figured out the difference between airplanes and choo choo trains. What a smart cookie he is. Not everyone in his high school has got that yet.
Bambi had her third baby in November. He's cute as a button, but looks nothing like his siblings. We can't figure out why she keeps getting pregnant, but hopefully her junior high will cover that next year.
In August Rufus and I got a second honeymoon. His convenience store clerk convention was in Atlanta this year and we got to go! As a perk for being employee of the month, we got a private tour of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Can you say goose bumps?
Anyway, you can see that life has been really rich and full for us this year. I hope that you are at least 1/5 as blessed as we have been! Merry Christmas!
Oh, yeah, why strive for excellence when sarcasm is so much easier?
I'm kind of the same about cookies. I always stop and oggle the gorgeously decorated cookies in bakeries, but do I take the time to make them? Nope. I'd much rather plop delicious dough onto baking sheets and eat the cookies while they're still warm and the chocolate is gooey. It's easier and tastes better. So what if they don't look fancy and perfect? If you care, I won't share.
Salted Butter Cookies
- adapted from David Lebovitz
4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cup (180g) flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
1 ⅓ cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter and sugars just until smooth and creamy.
2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the beaten butter until combined, then mix in the chopped chocolate (including any chocolate dust) and the chopped nuts.
5. Cover and chill the batter until firm, preferably overnight.
6. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
7. Form the cookie dough into rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut. Place the mounds evenly spaced apart on the baking sheets, and press down the tops to flatten them so they are no longer domed and the dough is even.
8. Bake the cookies for ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies look about set, but are not browned.
9. Remove from the oven and quickly tap the top of each with a spatula, then return to the oven for two to five more minutes, until the tops of the cookies are light golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cookies cool.
Storage: The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to five days in an airtight container. The dough can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for one or two months.