Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Xmas Holiday Baking

Let's start this by saying that I'm not much of a baker. I'd rather cook something instead. Don't you find that you're also baking a lot during the Christmas holidays?

For our Christmas dinner, which we held at Aunt IS's house, I knew I wanted to make at least two kinds of cookies. I was thinking of trying to make the DoubleTree chocolate walnut cookies again, and maybe some Biscoff cookies, or some chocolate chip cookies.


I used more chopped walnuts, less chocolate chunks, and less oatmeal flour for this batch of DoubleTree cookies. After I got started with the DoubleTree cookies, Richard into the kitchen and was also in a baking mood. He wanted to make Mom's chocolate chip cakey cookies. I suggested the Serious Eats' Food Lab recipe for "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies." We made the cookies on Christmas Eve and then put them in the fridge to bake on Christmas afternoon.


Both bags of cookie dough were taken out to warm up a bit. After popping them into the oven, the remaining cookie dough was put in the freezer. Once the cookies were done and had cooled enough, we dug in. The results of the DoubleTree cookies were great! The ratio of walnuts to chocolate was perfect for me and they were slightly crisp on the edges while being chewy in the middle.

As for the cookies Richard made, they were disappointing. When he browned the butter the night before, the house smelled like caramel. It was so promising. The baked products were not only short on that depth of flavour, but they needed more flour (human error) too.

For the Xmas party with some friends, VN and I were thinking about attempting to make macarons again. Our last experience didn't turn out the greatest -- visually, that is. We thought we had everything, but we realized that I had forgot the icing sugar. Oops. We postponed it until Boxing Day.

After having lunch at the Authentic Vietnamese Pho House, we picked up some things to make macarons. We went to Bulk Barn and then went back to the kitchen. I had forgotten the icing sugar again. So fail. There was luckily a small bag of icing sugar left in the cupboards. Phew! The almond meal wasn't fine at all. We tried using a blender. Fail. We tried a coffee grinder. More fail. And then finally we resorted to a mortar and pestle to try and crush them finer. That didn't work too well either. We went on though.

Everything was gently mixed together and we were almost ready to pipe the macarons before VN brought something up. We had forgotten the icing sugar! Wow. I tried folding in the icing sugar in 20, 000 times as delicately as I could. But it didn't work. We had enough ingredients to make only one final batch.

It looked great. All the ingredients were added.

After a quick exchange, we agreed that it wouldn't be a big deal if we piped the macarons directly onto the pan. It was non-stick after all. It would be okay? Right? Riiiight?

We nervously popped the two trays of piped macarons and put it into the 280F to bake. That's what the recipe we used said. The macarons didn't like the high oven temperature. The macarons not only cracked but they weren't fully cooked through. When I took out the tray, this was what I saw. It was like tunnel vision.

Upon further inspection, there was one that looked perfect! Enhance!

Enhance! What a beauty. It was smooth on top and had feet! Unfortunately, all of the macarons -- including the pretty-looking one -- was under baked.

After the 4+ hours that it took VN and I to make macarons, I still tried to make it work. We were going to eat these macarons with some chocolate mint icing! So I grabbed the tub of chocolate icing and as I slid my fingers around the lid to open it, a piece of tinfoil that poked out sliced my fingers.

Yup. I sliced my fingers by trying to open a container of icing. You'd think that after all of those bad omens, VN and I would've stopped. But no. Clearly, me and macarons don't go well together. Just like me and Scrabble.

Despite two failed attempts at making macarons, I'm determined to make at least one good batch. This is not the end.

Yesterday (December 30th), I went over to SM's place to hang out. We also did some baking. I brought along some cookie dough from the Christmas Eve batches. I baked the cookies before the World Junior game began, that way we could enjoy them warm when the game began. We were watching Canada play against Slovakia. By the time I brought the cookies downstairs, they were already announcing the starting goalies. Once I got back to my seat and took a bite out of a warm chocolate chunk cookie, Drouin took a major penalty for hitting the head of a Slovenian player. Lame. But the game got better and Canada managed to earn a win with the help of a great hardworking shift by the Lazar-Patan-Reinhart line in the second period.

Once the game had finished, we went upstairs and began to make sugar cookies with a recipe given from SM's co-worker. We had a lot of fun using the cookie cutters to make feet, stars, snowmen, and hearts. There weren't any angels. No angels! SM also had some leftover icing so she topped off some of the cooled sugar cookies. When we were mixing the dough, it looked like the cookie dough needed more liquids. I wasn't sure what to do about it, so we didn't do anything about it. We put it in the fridge to let it set for an hour and hoped that it would turn out. And it did!

The end of December involved lots of baking. There were some successful batches and some that didn't work out. It's all good though. It's not always about the journey, it's about the results. Wait. Uh... whatever. Never mind. Scratch that. Rewind.


The end of December involved lots of baking. It was fun to bake and cook for my friends and family, and even cook and bake with my friends and family. I hope the new year will continue to be full of new adventures, even if they don't turn out the way I want them to. To good health and lots of fun times ahead! Happy new years everyone! Cheers! *raises a glass of watered down juice* *clink*

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