Monday, December 22, 2008

Pictures from an Orgy--Butter Included!

Orgies—they’re definitely fun, but it’s also a challenge keeping track of the different pleasures and possibilities happening around you. All the more so when you’re the director of the orgy, as I was this past week. Yes, I invited ten different participants into my home for a wild and slippery time of it. Five pounds of butter saw action, plus lots of fruity sweet thangs. I took pictures, too, so those who couldn't join in the action could watch from afar!

Okay, my regular readers have already guessed I’m talking about food, specifically holiday cookies. I’ve been indulging in my cookie orgy for five Decembers now, and this was a particularly wild year for me. I gave out eighteen boxes to teachers, soccer coaches, my writing mentors and such. I wish I could have sent you a box, but these cookies don’t really travel well. Instead, I hope food porn (of the photographic sort) and food erotica (of the written kind) will provide enough of a taste to get your mouth watering.

I made my classic recipes this year and tried out a few new ones that worked out well enough to make a repeat appearance next year. Of course, my bout of cookie madness had its predictable crises. I overmixed the base for the Pecan Squares just a tad and the Venetians were slightly unstable due to the fact the apricot jam had less whole fruit than usual resulting in a slippery filling. On the other hand, the Spoon Cookies were more flavorful--a hard year of book promotion gave me the courage to let the butter brown just a bit more than usual. But I suspect my recipients don’t bring the same critical eye and palate to my cookies. They seem to enjoy them with a sincerity you don’t really find in responses to writing.

To be honest, I love the excitement and satisfaction my cookies seem to inspire. Some highlights of this year: “Oh, the cookies! This is one of the highlights of our holiday!” “I look forward to these every year.” “These are the best cookies ever.” “You could get rich selling these.” “If I were married to your wife, I’d weigh five hundred pounds.”

Well, that’s probably enough to give you a taste of the acclaim. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t swap writing for baking?

I promised pictures and here they are.


Exhibit A shows the hidden bottom layer of the first round of cookie boxes. It includes:

Yin-Yang Cookies—vanilla cookie dough with chocolate chips marries chocolate cookie dough with white chocolate chips

Chewy Pecan Squares—pecan caramel filling on a shortbread crust

Ribbon Cookies—layers of cherry, pistachio and chocolate cookie dough


The top layer has the more delicate cookies, including:

Venetians—Italian flag-tinted almond cake layers with apricot jam and bittersweet chocolate

Gevulde Speculaas—Dutch spice cookies with marzipan filling

Finnish Spoon Cookies—browned butter dough shaped with a silver spoon (that my grandmother received as a wedding gift in 1919) and sandwiched with mixed fruit jam

And some of the later boxes held a selection of the following, which you see on the plate, moving counter-clockwise from the upper left:


Cranberry-White Chocolate Drops—a double-vanilla sugar cookie dough with New England’s best dried cranberries and white chocolate chips

Mexican Wedding Cookies—a classic recipe with pistachios and the afore-mentioned dried cranberries

Lebkuchen—a German-style gingerbread with candied orange peel, almonds and cardamom. This is a new recipe that definitely tasted better after a few days of aging.

Not pictured and yet to be eaten, as they require a week to reach maturity (that is, they are culinarily under eighteen) are:

Rum Balls—the classic no-cook bon-bon made with vanilla wafers, pecans, cocoa and a nice jigger of rum

After handing out all of the packages and accepting the mostly enthusiastic thanks, my family got to enjoy the leftovers during our annual cookie buffets, where I spread out the tins of all the different kinds on our dining room table and we get to choose a few (or more than a few) each night. Because of the higher volume of gifting and gratitude this year, the cookie buffet only ran for about four nights, but it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Cookie madness is over for the year and I can sit back and enjoy the sweet rewards.

I hope your winter solstice holidays are equally sweet!

5 comments:

Emerald said...

It seems your blog has become notorious this season for making me hungry for things I have been known to deprive myself from eating. :) Seriously -- you may think I am joking or flattering you or both, but I assure you this really has happened every time I have come here and read about your holiday baking. It has in fact motivated me to go search my woefully uncompetitive kitchen for something somewhere near the awesomeness of what's in yours.

Congrats on the completion of your cookie-baking extravaganza, and glad to hear of your now basking in the afterglow! ;)

Donna said...

Now don't you know, I like to tempt people to bad behavior ;-)? These are definitely more naughty than the gingerbread house which probably burns calories to make!

And you're right. This does feel like the afterglow....

MB (Leah) said...

Food and sex, my favorite things.

Those cookies are yummy looking. *licking lips* :D

Judy Storey Maritato said...

MMMMM great photos I've been the lucky recipient of some local baking-orgy ladies' cookies this year and have been cookie'd out, but not past the point of lusting after these...

Craig Sorensen said...

Awesome pictures of cookie porn.

Love 'em.

You see, Donna, you must do both. The chef in you feeds upon the eroticist, and vice versa.

Please keep that vice versa going!