Cooking Adventures Pt. 8: Thanksgiving X, the Bakening

Since I’ve moved to Arizona I’ve learned to cook a lot more and baking has become a stress release for me. Especially around the holidays when money gets tight and things go so fast the one thing I can do is bake. Usually I make something for my coworkers and a bunch of things for Gabe’s family. This year I made Wookie Cookies for work and 2 types of cookies, smore bars, a cranberry pie, a banana creme pie, a pumpkin roll, and a banana creme pie.

This may be a multi-part one depending on how long it gets. I started one tuesday before thanksgiving by baking 2 batches of the wookie cookies (one for work, one for family). Each batch makes three dozen cookies and it’s the most basic easy chocolate chip cookie recipe. The unique part is that it’s got cinnamon in it. The recipe is in the star wars cookbook I bought from Thinkgeek. It’s easy to mix ahead and freeze or refrigerate too. They always go fast, so I make a lot of them.

After making the wookie cookies I packed them up and started prepping for the next day. Whenever I’m going to do a lot of baking in one day I like to measure out ingredients that get added in the same step and put them in labeled baggies so I’m not washing measuring cups a million times the day off. This works best for things like flour and baking powder and seasonings. I don’t usually do that for wet ingredients because mixing those ahead of time can lead to weird reactions (Tried adding almond extract and sugar to cranberries early so I could toss them in the pie shell the next day, ended up with more moisture than expected, though it tasted okay.)

So the next morning I get up bright and early and tackle the other type of cookies I planned: Strawberry cream cheese cookies. I got this recipe from a re-post on facebook. They’re very moist cookies with chunks of white chocolate and real strawberries inside. These cookies taste great but are always problematic. The dough mixes fine, the white chocolate goes in great. Then the strawberries. You’re supposed to pour a little lemon juice over fresh strawberries (cut up into little bits) and then drain them, toss them in a little flour and gently stir them into the batter. No matter what I do the flour ends up a soggy mess on them and instead of stirring gently into the batter they stick out of and slide around the dough. They always take longer than the recipe calls for too and suffer from sticky bottoms due to melted chocolate and strawberry bits. It’s a finicky recipe I can’t seem to master but when you take a bit and it melts in your mouth you don’t care so much that they all stuck together or fall apart because too many strawberry chunks got in one cookie.

After the strawberry cookies was the Smore bars. You just make a simple graham cracker crust dough, press half of it into a greased 8 inch brownie pan, and bake it for 15 minutes. Then while it’s still hot you break up a big hershey bar, layer the chunks on the cooked layer, and pour 3 cups of marshmallows on top of that. Then you attempt to sprinkle the remainder of the dough on top even though it never spreads out thoroughly and bake the whole mess again for 10-15 minutes till the top browns. If you greased the pan it’ll come right out once it’s cooled but it takes a long time to cool. I mean bake this one at least a day ahead because if that chocolate isn’t solid it’ll be a mess.

Next up was the pumpkin roll. Since this was the first time I tried making one I was very leery. The recipe called for self rising flour which my bag was… best by back in 2015. It had been in the freezer the whole time so I risked it. I greased and floured a shallow baking sheet and poured the batter in, spreading it out as much as I could. It didn’t touch the sides, I think my pan was too big. Nonetheless the batter came out looking alright 15 minutes later. I floured a clean kitchen towel to invert the cake onto, and I’m pretty sureI went overboard considering the amount of flour on my flour and counter and the bottom of the fridge. The next step was to roll it up with the towel (you’re rolling them up together so the cake doesn’t touch itself). Then I let it chill in the fridge while making the filling, which was a simple cream cheese icing. I don’t think I let it chill quite long enough as the inside of the roll was a tiny bit warm and cracked slightly. I just smeared icing all over the roll and rolled it up again carefully, putting it back into the fridge to chill more. I tossed a bunch of flour still on the towel, and brushed some excess off since it looked powdery on the outside. I ended up cutting off the edges because the icing didn’t reach to the ends.

There are two pies and one more other dessert I did but this entry is long enough so I’ll cover those in a part 2. All of the stuff I mentioned took from about 9:30 am to 2 pm and we ran to the store and did errands for a couple hours so the rest happened from 6 pm on.

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