Friday, December 9, 2011

High Maintenance

I went to my first holiday party of the season on Wednesday: My sister-in-law, Kristen's, biennial cookie exchange. I believe I have mentioned it before (here and here) I don't seem to have mentioned that this is NOT the kind of event to which you can bring Entenmann's (halleluja - I HATE Entenmann's. YUCK!) You can leave your Pillsbury cookies at home too. This show requires a certain amount of sweat. It's also easily the nicest, fanciest holiday party I go to most years. Kristen is a fantastic hostess and gets everything right, from the hors d'ouvres to the cocktails to the decorations. There's a certain amount of pressure to PERFORM at this event.

The cookies I made this year are show-stoppers. I've made them a few other years and was not planning to make them this year but Kristen asked me to.

Honestly, if you have to make four-dozen cookies I would not suggest choosing a shaped sandwich cookie. It's at least three times the work: you have to make double the dough, roll it out and cut twice the number of cookies, you have to make the ganache and then fill the cookies. You could probably get away without decorating them with drizzles of melted white chocolate but there's no way I'm bringing a plain brown cookie to this cookie exchange.

This dough tends to be sticky too so it requires quite a bit of chilling time. It must be chilled at least four hours before you roll it out the first time, you must re-chill the remaining dough before you roll it out again to cut more cookies and the cut cookies must be chilled for ten minutes on the sheet before you bake them.

Once baked, the cookies must rest for two minutes exactly on the cookie sheet before you can scrape them off the parchment paper they have been baked on (I used aluminum foil which ripped with every batch I made. I got the cookies off with no damage but the foil ripped every time) Try to pry them off too soon and they'll distort, too late and they'll stick (Don't f*%k with the instructions, b!#ches!)

Then of course they have to cool completely before you can spread on the ganache (and, yes, the ganache has to chill and thicken before you can spread it on) Later, when all of the cookies have been assembled, the white chocolate drizzles need time to harden before you can pack the cookies up and take them anywhere. Actually, the white chocolate drizzles are a simplification I devised. The recipe suggests you pipe on the melted white chocolate. I might be an intense baker at times but I'm not pathological.

These cookies are impossible to make at the last minute. I took three days to make them. I made the dough and the plain and peppermint chocolate ganaches the first day (I made double batches since the recipes yield two dozen. In fact, I ended up with five dozen. Bonus) I baked the second day and assembled and decorated the day of the cookie exchange. You also don't want to assemble them too far ahead of time because they can get soggy.

The result of all of this labor is a truly amazing cookie. In fact it's more like a confection. While I was making them I was thinking, "This is the last time. I'm retired from making this cookie!"
Afterwards I thought, "Well, it is a great cookie. Maybe I'll make them again. Maybe just not four dozen."

Of course I'm whining about having to make four dozen cookies but most of the women at the party had had to make eleven dozen cookies for a school event the next day. I hope Pillsbury was good enough for that event. Something to think about if you plan on moving to Wellesley Massachusetts and enrolling your kids in the Wellesley public school system.

As for our event, it was so festive and convivial and the cookies exchanged were so delicious (at least the ones I tried were) that I felt like the trouble was worth it. And who knows, maybe in two years I'll have rested up enough to make those again? If anyone wants the recipe let me know.

Five dozen cookies in our sparsely decorated apartment

1 comment:

Hope said...

I make cupcakes that look like hostess cupcakes, except they're devil's food with a coffee marscapone filling and they're so freaking delicious. And they take for-EVER to make. I make them every couple years because it takes that long to forget how much of a PITA they are.