Time Crunch

Seeing as how I came home super late Thursday night/Friday morning, I woke up at 8am and quickly decided on Snicker2snickerdoodle – easy to make, not too radical and a certain classic. But which recipe? My last few tries at snickerdoodle have been Gale Gand’s Snickerdoodle found on the Food Network website. This recipe does not call for cream of tartar, a definite plus for a college student pantry. At some point, however, I gave in to the temptation to try different recipes, so I bought cream of tartar a while ago, just in case – you never know, eh? But this Snickerdoodle recipe has received a fair number of compliments from friends and family, so you should give it a chance, should you be inspired to make Snickerdoodle now. But this particular morning, I wanted a change of recipe, so I looked one up in The All-American Cookie Book, and found the “Best-Ever Snickerdoodles.” These two recipes produce different cookie textures, as the latter is very soft and almost fell apart as I pulled them off my baking sheet. Gale Gand’s recipe is sturdier, and in my opinion the beRedBalloontter of the two. Try both and tell me what you think. I have been cookie scarred after my Christmas madness, so all cookies made post-Christmas have been associated with a rather negative response. Ironic, because that same day for Red Balloon, I ended making 200 more cookies – but this time from a box! Surprising, no? My first time, and it was so hectic too! I went to St. Patrick’s at noon to help set up and decorate, but by about 3pm, I was rushing home to bake 2 large boxes of Krusteaz cookie mix and another box of Ghiradelli brownie mix, AND chop 3 Costco-sized bags of celery. Only 3 hours and only 1 oven. Fabulous, right? Talk about a Robert Irvine (Dinner: Impossible) moment. But very fun all the while. So I managed to crank out both boxes of Krusteaz (chocochip and peanut butter), and chop all celery. Sorry to the Brownies. The box of mix is still sitting in my trunk. Rushed to the event a little late, but was pleased to see a decent turn out. You should have been there – excellent jazz band, the Pizookies were very fun, and Under|Sky was great as always. I was mesmerized by their vocalist, Halyna Le – great performances & stage presence, cute and funny. So the evening ended with tons of clean up and me climbing the tall ladder multiple times to grab all the balloons from the ceiling.Snicker1

Gale Gand’s Snickerdoodle

For the topping:
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the cookie dough:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Best-Ever Snickerdoodles

2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tbs light corn syrup
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Topping: 1/4 cup sugar + 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, beat together butter, sugar and corn syrup until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and blend smooth. Beat in half the flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Stir in the remaining flour. Let dough stand for 5-10 minutes or until it firms up slightly. Put cinnamon-sugar topping in a shallow bowl. Roll walnut sized balls with lightly greased hands (dough is sticky!) in cinnamon-sugar and flatten balls with your hand. Place an inch or so apart on baking sheet. Bake for 8-11 mins., or until just golden brown at the edges. You can flip your baking sheet halfway through baking to ensure even browning, if you’d like. Remove and allow cookies to firm up (2-5 mins.) before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

And today has been my first true day of relaxing. I haven’t stepped out of the house all day. No chores. No shower. I’ve been glued to my bed, finishing up The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. If you haven’t read it, you are missing out on a self-discovery trip. It is a very good and easy read. I then plowed into The Remedy by Michelle Lovric. I haven’t formed any opinions about it yet, but I will keep you posted about my progress. The one time I did crawl out of bed today was to finish my focaccia dough, a recipe from the California Pizza Kitchen cookbook. I do not recommend this book as everything is on done a restaurant scale – meaning, you need to already have made several other items in the book before making a real dish. But if you like the CPK twist on focaccia, then you might want to try it. However, the recipe is loong, though not complicated to follow. Bake it a little longer than stated in the directions below, as it does not brown well.

CPK Focaccias

For the dough:
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/4 bread or all-purpose flour
2 tbs honey
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbs + 2 tsp EVOO

For topping:
1 small red onion, sliced into 1/8″ strips
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs chopped rosemary
1 1/2 tbs chopped thyme

1. Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm water and stir to dissolve. Set aside for 10 mins. (or longer if you have sleepy aka old yeast)
2a. If using an electric mixer, combine dissolved yeast in bowl with all other ingredients except 2 tsp olive oil; try not to pour the salt directly into the yeast water because it will kill some of the yeast; using the dough hook and low speed, mix dough until smooth and elastic (2-3 mins.). Do not overmix or the end product will be tough, and the heat generated will cause it to rise too fast.
2b. If using a food processor, combine ingredients and use plastic dough blade, because a steel blade will cut the gluten strands and ruin the dough’s consistency. Mix only until you have a smooth ball of dough riding around the side of the bowl.
3. Lightly oil the dough ball and large glass or ceramic bowl with remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Place the dough in a large bowl and seal airtight. Set aside at warm room temp, 70-80F (the microwave is great), until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
4. Punch down the dough to drive out gases that have formed. Reform into nice round ball, return it to same bowl, cover and fridge overnight.
5. Divide dough into 4 or 8 equal portions (depends if you want large or small) with a sharp knife.
6. On a nonfloured surface, roll each potion of dough back and forth to form a 9-inch-long rope.
7. Sprinkle surface with flour and roll each rope flat, maybe 1/4″ thick or so.
8. Place each rolled out piece 1″ apart on a baking sheet. Brush the surface of each focaccia with cold water. Evenly top each with red onion, herbs, and salt, gently pressing the pieces into the surface. Lightly drizzle or spray EVOO over onion and herbs.
9. Preheat oven to 450F. Cover dough with plastic and set aside for 30 mins.
10. Bake for 10 mins. (longer if necessary to brown). Remove from oven and immediately transfer to wire racks. Serve hot.

So I have subsisted on left over cookies, bananas and focaccia all day. I promptly returned to my bed to continue reading. My reading stupor was interrupted by rather happy news – my mom walked in with TWO BEAUTIFUL PUPPIES! They are adorable little baby balls of fur – I have yet to figure out what breed, but we named the beige one Croissant and the black one Cafe. They are barely a month old, both boys, both sleepy. But from what I hear (Vivian Peng who is currently raising 3 puppies), puppies sleep for the first few weeks of their lives, so I guess I’m not surprised. Pictures will definitely be posted when they are less sensitive to flash. But I am ecstatic. And I have 3 more weeks to spend with them and train them before I start school. It will be 3 weeks in heaven!

Things to look forward to?! Well, I start working tomorrow – nothing special, just helping my parents out at a gas station. It beats getting fat at home, but this means less flexible schedule for hang out times. But whatever. My last two weeks have been awesome. Also, any one have New Year’s Eve plans?! Hit me up! But anyway, I’m going to sleep next to the puppies and keep them company. Ciao!

S2 anh

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