Many of us have hurt ourselves while cooking. Of course you have. What are a few burns and cuts in the name of deliciousness?
Then there are other ways to injure yourself.
Last week, I earned an unprecedented war wound from baking star-shaped cookies for my cousin Anne Marie and Jay’s baby shower, which I planned with two friends. We decided on an outer space theme (after carefully considering, and later tossing, the “Alien” movie theme … sigh).
The temporary injury? A scraped elbow. (Oh, the agony!) Then, there was a millisecond of bruised pride before the cracking-up-at-myself stage began.
This is how it happened: I was carrying a baking sheet of my star-shaped ginger cookies out of the kitchen into the living room to show my boyfriend, David, how good they looked before I baked them, they puffed up and lost some of their elegant star-ness.
I somehow tripped on, errr, nothing and wiped out on the hardwood floor, face-down. Star-shaped cookies soared across the living room. True to my stubborn nature, I never lost my grip on the cookie sheet, and so salvaged several cookies. I lay sprawled on the floor, tray in hand, and looked up with tremulous, almost tear-filled eyes at my audience. I couldn’t decide whether to be upset or laugh. He couldn’t decide whether to laugh or console me. Like a good boyfriend, he chose the safe route and kissed my boo-boo.
I chose the latter response. It was classic physical comedy after all. And classic Amy. My long limbs often lend themselves to some entertaining (to me) moments that are grace-free, such as enthusiastically throwing my hands in the air to emphasize joy, only to have the ceiling fan blades smack my hands in retribution.
But there are cookies involved here. And like theatrical plays, the cookie is the thing.
Commissioned to bake star-shaped cookies, I made it my mission to make healthier, tastier versions than the ho-hum sugar cookie. I like flavor beyond plain sugar. And I’m trying to get back on track with eating and cooking healthier — which means fewer white carbs and less processed sugar.
Perusing my new “Baking with Less Sugar” cookbook by Joanne Chang of “Flour” and “Flour Too” cookbook success, I found peanut butter cookies sweetened with just honey. The result? Cake-like blobs. Tasty, but they didn’t work. At all.
Next, I tried Chang’s ginger cookies, which use only molasses and grade B maple syrup. I substituted whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the white flour. They require more than a day to make because you gotta freeze the batter and allow the cookies to harden in the oven for hours.
I typically crave chewy cookies, but I learned crispy is where it’s at when it comes to holding a desired shape, and without sugar, this is a trickier task. For personal use, give me a chewy, gooey, ugly cookie any day.
But apparently these cookies weren’t about me and my desires.
After one blobby batch, I discovered the ginger cookies still look like stars after baking if I pull the star corners out to make them longer and skinnier. Then, when they fatten up as they bake, they still look like stars afterward. Score!
At this point, I was all “screw the healthy part of this mission,” and I made standard buttercream frosting with butter (duh), powdered sugar and vanilla. I opted out of blue dye because it tastes like chemicals. And I decided to keep it simple and add no more goodies. That’s what the silver and gold sprinkles were for.
I didn’t have enough cookies for the party of 30+, so I completely caved and made traditional sugar cookies also. Amazing how easy those suckers are, and how well they retain their shape. Go figure. Still, I made them a tad more exciting by adding lemon extract to the batter, and lemon extract and orange zest to the icing. So they’re citrus sugar cookies.
Several party goers appeared to love the cookies, even before knowing who made them, so there’s that. And I enjoyed them despite their lack of chewy texture, which means I win. Just need to come up with a healthier frosting for those gingers.