Thursday, February 20, 2014

Don't say I didn't warn you...

I don't write on my blog much anymore, but every once in a while, I come across a recipe that is either too good not to share, or so insanely aggravating that I MUST VENT about it.  Guess which this is?

Today, I curse you forever by introducing you to what I not-so-affectionately have dubbed...

Poo Cookies from HELL

Should you be even thinking trying this recipe, I hereby absolve myself from all responsibility for the consequences...including, but not limited to: depression, heart attack, aneurysm, heartburn, nausea, knives stuck in walls, bad words learned by children, murder, or any other mayhem.

So, how on earth did I end up with a recipe that is so frustrating?  Why, school of course!  Our elementary school is a wonderful, wonderful place, and it's definitely not my kids' fault that the school, in an effort to enrich, engage, and teach our children about the world, started an annual tradition called "International Night". Also not really the kid's, or the school's fault that I volunteered to help a fellow parent out with his booth all about France.  Maybe not even really, completely his fault that the recipe he referred to as "easy" turned out to be the cookie version of my life's nemesis.

So, here's the email I received:


Can  you do the following to help with our activities, etc for the International Night?

The Cookies were a big hit last year so we will be doing them again.  The cookies are from a French Pastry shop in Paris and are *easy* to make.  I am sharing the recipe that I have scanned from my decadent book, Pastries of Paris.

Sounds simple enough, right?  So, here's the pictures he included:

I have left them how I received them...sideways.

Just so you reeeeeally understand the challenges I face.  Oh, and the size?  Also what I had to work with.  So, imagine, I'm having to turn my laptop sideways, enlarge the heck out of the pictures, copy the recipe to paper...and I still have no idea that I am going to hate and detest this recipe with all of my hate.

I did have a clue.  I generally avoid cookie recipes that include the instructions "sift" or "chill".  And yes, this one has both.

I have now added "may be crumbly" to my list of recipe phrases to avoid.  AND HOW.

Ok, ok, I'm not completely cruel.  I will type out the recipe for you.  BUT BE WARNED.  Do not attempt this recipe unless you
A) Have the patience of Job
B) Have no small children in your presence that could be harmed by...colorful language
C) are French and/or an experienced pastry chef who knows what "fleur de sel" is

If you want all the fun, French tourist background story, and the metric measurements, you'll have to print and read the page yourself, I am just typing the recipe...and a few comments...because I wouldn't be me if I didn't comment.

Korova Cookies (aka Poo Cookies from Hell)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or, if you are like me and you shop at Fred Meyer, not Whole Paycheck, you get Hershey's cocoa powder.)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (what de what?) or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (or, you know, Morton's, cause that's what I've got!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits (HA!  Yeah, I'm going to spend an extra hour doing that!  Try 2/3 cup of mini chocolate chips instead.)

1. Sift (there's that word!!) the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.  Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and bear on medium speed until butter is soft and creamy.  Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla and beat for another minute or two.  Reduce mixer speed to low, add sifted (argh!) dry ingredients.  
Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated-the dough will look crumbly...
the dough will look crumbly...
the dough will look crumbly...

and that's just right.  (HA!)  For the best texture (read: MOST DIFFICULT SUBSTANCE YOU HAVE EVER WORKED WITH) you want to work the dough as little as possible.  (Ha HA HA!)
Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface AND PREPARE TO LOSE YOUR MIND...OR AT LEAST YOUR PATIENCE!  Squeeze it so it sticks together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and  (***This step and the next one took me AN HOUR.   I am not joking.  The walls of my kitchen are a shade bluer because of the sailor-like language I used.)  working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  

And here is where you understand the "poo" part:

Now, I could not get anywhere NEAR half of the dough to stick together.  I ended up with a half dozen little poo logs, because the MOST I could work with at one time was a handful of poo dough.  Are the "1 and a half inches in diameter"?  NO.  They are not.  They are less.  BECAUSE THAT IS ALL I COULD DO.    Rant (temporarily!) over, back to the instructions as written.  BY SADISTS.

Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill (see, SEE?  n-e-m-e-s-i-s) for at least one hour.  Wrapped air tight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for one month.  (Just remember they're in there, or you might have to explain why you are storing poo.)

Now, I walked away for a day.  Partly so I didn't end up throwing the frustrating poo logs against the wall, where they would leave some hard-to-explain brown stains...and partly because I have children, and baking cookies they are not allowed to eat in front of them is some Geneva-level torture.  So, cut to the next day, while said cookie fiends were in school.  And I have had coffee.  And a good nights sleep.  

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and keep them close at hand.  (I italicized that part because it cracks me up.  What was I going to do?  Line my baking sheets with parchment paper and put them away?  Move them to a bedroom?  Look away and they wander off?)

Working with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick.  (and here's where I went right back to Frustration City, despite the next line where it reads...)  Don't be upset if the rounds break ("If" they say... HA!), just squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.  (Again, I say HA!  Just squeeze it on, never mind that the dough is like magnetized mercury THAT WILL NOT STAY TOGETHER.)  
That is basically what every single slice did.  Oh, except for the ones that pretty much crumbled to brown dust.  I should probably mention at this point, it was very tasty dust.  As much as I detested making these mockery-of-all-things-good-and-cookie...they do taste really, really good.  Darn it.

One side note: if you cut the slices on the plastic wrap, you can gather the tiniest crumbly bits in the plastic wrap, and squeeze the heck out of them, like so:

It gives you a, well, poo nugget.  That is, of course, if you have not eaten all of the crumbs.  Tasty, tasty crumbs...

Ok, let's finish this b!%@#.

Place the "cookies" on the parchment lined sheets (if you haven't misplaced them), leaving about one inch spread space between them.  (Lies!  These suckers didn't spread a bit.)

5. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time.  (whyyyyy?) Bake each sheet for 12 minutes.  The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be.  Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies stand.  (Or sit.  Or lay there like the poo slices of chocolatey evil they are.)

And here they are:

Those kids who visit our France booth better like them.  Or, they may be the recipient of a baked poo nugget to the back of the head.

So, will I be making these again?


Not on your life.  Not even if the President asked me to.  Not even if the President landed his big ass helicopter in my cul de sac, knocked on my door and said, "Molly, we need you to make the French Poo cookies.  One. More. Time.  The freedom of our nation and life as we know it on Earth depends on it."


Well, ok, maybe then.  But, only, Mr President, if you help.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bill's Carrot Cake

Hello from the future! Ok, not really...but since it's been a year and a half since I posted, I figured, what better reason than time travel? It's the year 2014, my children have grown ridiculously tall, and are still very picky. I'm cooking even less than I used to, and due to #2's allergies, my vegetarian diet, and the aforementioned pickiness, most nights we're cooking 2-3 different meals...blogging about which would be horribly boring for you. So, why the new post? I have something special to share with you. It's a recipe, and a story. Our family lost one of our uncles. His name was Bill, and he died quite suddenly right before Christmas. He was a friendly, funny, sweet man, and he will be missed. At the celebration of Bill's life, (which was attended by over 200 people, including family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and Bill's Patriot Guard Riders chapter) one of the desserts was a fantastic carrot cake. Bill's daughter, Trish, shared that Bill's neighbor had made the cake from carrot she picked from Bill's garden, days before his service, including one humongous carrot, pictured below! So, feel free to share this recipe. Pin it, tweet it, email it, post it to Facebook...all I ask is that you please keep the name, Bill's Carrot Cake, and that you tell everyone you share it with that Bill was a funny, sweet guy, and we miss him. Thank you, and, enjoy!

Bill’s Carrot Cake
3 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups Bill’s carrots, shredded (more is okay!)
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
1 cup organic raisins
Giant carrot grown by Bill Johnson; harvested Jan 2014