Friday, June 22, 2007

Baking Cookies

I was one of two people in charge of refreshments for tonight's Master Gardener meeting. (Yes, that's how Kate and I know each other.) Jenny and I decided to go basic -- milk and cookies.

The one problem with that is you never know how many people will attend, and you sure as heck don't want to come up short. Jenny said she was going to make her famous peanut butter crispy bars and bring the milk. I said I'd make cookies.

First I baked a batch of Sour Cream Stealth Cookies, my Mom's favorite. Then I baked a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies, the Engineer's favorite. Then I decided that I might not have enough cookies and that I wanted something different: Pumpkin Spice Cookies. I was pretty sure I had a recipe around someplace.

Sure enough, there in the Recipes folder on the Personal drive of my computer was a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cookies that I'd concocted a couple of years ago. So I printed it out and began assembling my ingredients. One and a half cups of softened butter -- you betcha, I know how to use a microwave. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Had all those. I buy whole nutmegs and grate my own. I really think it adds something. One 15 ounce can of pumpkin -- in the cupboard.

Not in the cupboard.

I knew I had some pumpkin someplace, so I tossed the cupboard. No pumpkin. Drat! I remembered that I had some frozen pumpkin left over from one I'd baked for pumpkin bisque last fall. Pulled it out of the freezer. One and a quarter cups. Dang!

I tossed it into the microwave to thaw anyway. Too bad I'd already eaten the last banana for breakfast, I could have mashed that up and used it to fill in for the missing pumpkin. Oh, wait, I had some individual serving cups of unsweetened applesauce that I keep on hand for making oatmeal raisin bread. Throw in 3/4 cup of that.

All of the disparate ingredients were being thrown into the big glass bowl. Two eggs, sugar, brown sugar, mix it all up. Geeze, did it ever look gross. Looked like it had already been eaten and rejected. I guess I hadn't softened the butter enough. Note to self, next time, zap the butter a little longer and cream it with the sugars before tossing the rest of the stuff in.

Flour... Oh crud, the recipe didn't have flour listed. It had three cups of "raw oatmeal" instead. This did not seem at all promising, but I dug out the Quaker Oats and dumped in three cups.

The mess in the bowl looked even grosser and really runny besides. And what about salt? And baking soda? Okay, let's guess and dump it on in.

There's got to be flour in cookies. That's when I realized I didn't have that extra bag of flour I'd though was on the upper shelf of the cupboard. Should have noticed that when I was searching for the pumpkin. I had a little regular unbleached flour, a little bread flour and a little cake flour.

Hmmm... Bread flour has too much gluten in it for cookies. Cake flour has almost no gluten in it so that cake will come out with a tender crumb (how's that for technical?) Mix up the cake flour and the bread flour and pretend it's regular flour. Works for me.

Three cups of hybrid flour made a soft dough, but it still looked kinda gross. I don't buy quick cook oats, I buy the old fashion kind and the individual oats looked like little bitty plates poking out at all angles from my dough.


I know, let's put something lumpy in to disguise the oatmeal. Nuts or sunflower seeds. No sunflower seeds and only a very small bag of nuts that smelled just a wee little bit rancid when I opened it. Trash can time! I sure as heck wasn't going to put chocolate chips into pumpkin spice cookies. I know some people like it, but I think it's nasty. Raisins! Raisins are nice and lumpy. Better yet, I had a little over a cup of raisins. In they went.

I wasn't quite sure how this would work out, so I decided to bake a trial dozen first.

Not bad at all! But I decided they were a little too flat, a little too spicy, too crispy around the edges and the oatmeal still showed up too much, so I mixed in another cup of flour.

So what did I have at the end of the day? No eggs, flour, butter, raisins, or ginger left, but seventeen dozen cookies in three varieties. And the last batch of cookies?

They were good.

I've decided to call them Clean the Cupboard Cookies. If you'd like the recipe, just click here to get it in pdf format.
How many people showed up at the Master Gardener meeting?


Looks like I'll have a freezer full of cookies for a while.

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