My grandpa died about two weeks ago. When Italians die, the Italians who are in charge of final arrangements usually include feeding mourners as part of those arrangements. (Raise your hand if you’re surprised.) My mom was in charge of said arrangements, so I decided to do my part and make dessert.
I made five desserts. For twelve people. I’m pretty sure this qualifies me for a lasagna-shaped “Real Live Italian Woman” merit badge.
To be on the safe side, I made four desserts that I’d made before (orange-olive oil cake, apple cake, smitten kitchen strawberry cake, and Quaker Oats oatmeal raisin cookies) and only one new one, these crazy-ass chocolate cookies from HowSweetEats at Tasty Kitchen. Today I will tell you the story of making the new cookies and the old cookies. But first I will tell you about what an idiot I am.
In view of making five fucking desserts like a psychotic Italian widow, and in view of my consistent efforts to improve my baking via following the fucking recipe, I took care to set out my butter so it would be softened by the time I was ready to work with it. Because it was the middle of July, I set my butter out on the deck in the sun. I thought this was a reasonable move – it had been frozen, and so would take considerably longer to soften than regular butter. I was checking it every 10 – 15 minutes at first, but it wasn’t softening quickly enough to merit such regular intervals, so I decided to leave it for awhile. After quite some time no I don’t know how long leave me alone, my dad – who long ago collected his merit badge in nagging like a Jewish mother despite being 100% gentile – started nagging me to check my butter. Despite being convinced that it was fine and he was paranoid, I grumbled my way outside to check on what I was quite certain would be four sticks of perfectly softened butter.
Guys, did you know butter melts in the sun?
In my defense, I had already considered and dismissed this problem, assuming that a process I need to force in my kitchen using a microwave or a stove would not be accomplished by the sun any more than burger patties can be cooked by placing them on a hot rock. This might be a good time to mention that I almost failed high school physics, and that the C+ I received for the year was the hardest-earned grade of my life.
Anyway, that’s how I came to spend the morning of my grandpa’s wake scrubbing four sticks of $4.99/pound organic butter off the deck with a straw broom and a bucket of soapy water.
In between this prime display of idiocy, knocking half a dozen organic eggs onto the floor, twice dropping egg shells into cake batter, and freely confusing my 1/2 tsp for my 1/4 tsp measuring spoon (we lack a regular teaspoon) – there’s a first time for everything, I guess, and the baking gods decided that day would be the first time I nearly destroyed everything I tried to make – I managed to make three cakes and two kinds of cookies. The oatmeal raisin cookies, recipe lifted from the lid of the Quaker Oats container, are an old classic in my life. I used to make them late at night in college and eat them for breakfast for days. This time I decided to make them correctly for the first time (dry and wet in separate bowls, creaming butter and sugar, etc etc) and while everyone else loved them as much as they always do, I think it rendered nearly inedible cookies. The chocolate Irish cream cookies, on the other hand, were pretty amazing. Half a cup of 17% ABV baked right in will do that for a cookie.
Notes and Verdicts
Double Fudge Irish Cream Cookies by HowSweetEats at Tasty Kitchen
Notes: This recipe called for 8 tbsp. of Irish cream. For your reference, 4 tbsp = 1/4 cup, so this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of Bailey’s. I will never understand why recipes insist on ignoring this labor-saving conversion, but they do. I also learned an amazing trick for making round cookies while preparing these to go in the oven, and you probably all know this already, in which case you can feel free to go ahead and bite me: if you take a bit of dough, roll it into a ball in your hands, and then place that ball on the cookie sheet, it will bake down into a perfectly round cookie! I was astounded by this. My beloved co-baker just sort of stared at me, doubtless wondering how I ever manage to cook anything without setting myself on fire (she of course witnessed all the above-described debacles), and went on rolling dough balls.
Verdict: So fucking good. Make these, eat them and rejoice. A
Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Notes: This recipe comes right off the lid of the Quaker Oats container and it is fucking delicious. However, it’s one of those cookies that I used to make before I adopted my new “bake everything according to the rules” philosophy, and I have to say that baking according to the rules does these cookies no favors. I literally found them inedible this time around, and I usually consume them more or less like a Schedule 1 controlled substance. If you’re gonna make these, don’t bother doing anything the right way. Feel free to microwave your butter, throw everything in a bowl and mix it all at once with your hands. It comes way, way more delicious than if you do things the right way. Also, just FYI: 13 minutes in the oven exactly. No more, no less.
Verdict: If you do these the way I’m telling you, they are perfect. If you don’t, don’t come crying to me. A+ for usual execution, C- for how they came this time around.