Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For the Love of Baking!

It's hard to believe, but Christmas has come and gone, just like that! All that prep, all the hustle and bustle, and it feels like in the blink of an eye – boom! It's gone!

It's always a chaotic time of year for me, but I thought since I wasn't working outside the home this Christmas, it might be a little easier to manage. I even got a head start on my shopping and thought I'd be totally done and ready at least a week ahead of time. But I wasn't. This year, more than ever, it was pretty stressful.

I won't go into all the gory details of the stress, but I will talk about one of the major causes: my holiday baking. I LOVE to bake, and can't wait until December comes because that's when all caution gets thrown to the wind and the baking begins. But this year, with all the baking I did, there's only ONE thing that actually turned out like I wanted it to. ONE THING! Let me tell you about my baking fiasco.

First, I made kiss cookies. My favorites. Apparently the nuts were stale that I used and put in the batter. So I didn't like the taste of them. Ever tasted a stale walnut? Blech! Then I moved on to the chocolate chip cookies. My friend makes the absolute BEST ones I've ever had, so I asked her for the recipe and she said she follows the Toll house recipe except she uses shortening instead of butter and adds just a little extra flour. So I go ahead and make up the batter, and just when I was placing the cookie batter on the cookie sheet, realized I never used the shortening, I used BUTTER instead! And they didn't turn out like I wanted; I didn't even like them. Blech! Then I made fudge, and as I was cooking it, went looking for my candy thermometer, but couldn't find it. It was nowhere to be found, like so many other kitchen utensils that have somehow joined together and have found a new place to live. So the fudge didn't turn out like I had planned. It tasted ok, but I like it a bit flaky and this was more creamy than flaky. I also made Rice Krispy treats, but I made them for Brooke & Ryan when they came over for our Christmas dinner together. I don't even like Rice Krispy treats. Then I was going to make peanut brittle. I even honey roasted the raw peanuts first. And the brittle came out like glue. If you dared put a piece in your mouth, be prepared for it to suck your teeth right out of your head.

Lastly, I made a cheesecake. I had high hopes for this cheesecake. I've made a gazillion of them. I'm well known for my cheesecake. It's stupendous. Bob calls it “Monster Killer Cheesecake.” It's the real reason he married me. Well, not really, I guess. But then Anyway, I was supposed to bring a cheesecake to Bob's sister's house, which is where we were having our Christmas day dinner. It's tradition. I always bring a cheesecake. After the initial cooking time of 45 minutes, it's supposed to sit out for half an hour, then go back in the oven with a sour cream topping on top at a high temperature for 10 minutes. So when the timer went off telling me it was time to put it back in the oven, I slipped it in and when the 10 minutes were up, went back to take it out and saw the topping STILL SITTING ON THE COUNTER IN A BOWL! AHHHH! Just kill me now! Et tu, CHEESECAKE?? The little evil Christmas elves were working against me, for sure!! Anyway, I took it out, put the topping on, put it back in the oven for 7 minutes, praying the topping would set and the cheesecake would turn out something better than a hard brick that would break your teeth when you bit into it. And guess what? It turned out just fine. It was just a teeny tiny bit drier than it should have been. And Bob said he only noticed because he is the master connoisseur of my cheesecake. Being that he married me because of it and all.

And the one thing that turned out the best? It was the Eggnog muffins with a streusel topping. I made them on Christmas morning. And I think that even the little evil Christmas elves knew I needed a break from the baking disasters, because they turned out delicious. Maybe I will even bake again. Someday.

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