Project of the day: Care package
Sister #2 is off at summer camp (wait, who?). A pretty awesome summer camp, I might add. She’s learning riflery, pottery, archery, mountain biking, tennis, and having a generally sweet time.
All this understandably gets a girl hungry, and I am not one to refuse a request for snacks! So, at mama’s suggestion, we baked cookies. Although, I should mention, the ‘we’ rather quickly became mostly ‘I.’ Mama was very concerned about getting the package to the post office by 5 pm, and the boys were happily playing together, so I baked and sister #6 helped measure.
Cookies are a simple operation. The trick is in the timing, especially with multiple recipes.
I started with these chocolate chunk studded chocolate shortbread cookies. I doubled the recipe and replaced half the prescribed dark chocolate chips with white, sister #2’s favorite (I also chopped them a bit, and would definitely recommend doing so if you don’t have mini chips). The dough came together quickly in the family kitchen aid: i let the butter and sugar cream while I whisked together the dry ingredients,then combined them. Sister #6 was quite happy to lick the paddle while I wrangled the crumbly dough into logs on a parchment-lined corner of our dining room table.
The logs went in the freezer, the oven got preheating to 350° F, and I turned to making Samoas (or Caramel Delites, if you prefer). After a quick hot rinse and wipe, the mixer graciously beat together a double recipe for the crust while I lined two big pans with parchment (we were low, so i just cleaned the cocoa off the bit I used before with a wet paper towel). This is a very crumbly dough, and you want to keep it that way. Gently shake it until its evenly distributed in your pan, THEN press it down, using an extra bit of buttered parchment if you need to. I regret not using 9×13 pans–the thin crust will puff a bit, but its hard to spread the dough so thin evenly.
Rather than melt store-bought caramels, I decided to make my own following the recipe for this salted butter tart filling. And although the coconut was supposed to toast at 50°F cooler, I started it at the same time, ten minutes into baking the crust (once the crust was finished I lowered the temperature to 300° F). As I tossed the coconut, stirred the caramel, and watched the crust’s edges turn golden, I realized I had no cream to finish the caramel.
No matter how efficiently you start, there often comes a point where you just need help. Fortunately for me, one huge advantage to cooking at home rather than at school is the presence of helpful daddies willing to dash to the store on an emergency cream run. He returned just in time for the cream to warm before the caramel turned a perfect dark golden brown. He also kindly agreed to slice the first log of chocolate shortbread onto a baking sheet (a sharp longish knife is Very handy here-the dough is certain to crack regardless, but the process is easier when there are fewer faults to shmoosh together).
The coconut was conveniently finished at the same time as the caramel, and the time it took to mix them together was enough to bring the oven up to 325°F, ready for the first tray of chocolate shortbread. Twelve minutes per tray was indeed perfect, surprising given how gooey they initially were. No eggs, so no worries. While those baked I divided the coconut mixture between the cookie crusts, still in their pans.
While the Samoa bars were cooking and the chocolate shortbreads were baking, I fished out some crayons and rallied the troops to write to/draw pictures for sister #2. I sliced and baked the rest of the cookies and drizzled the cool bars with melted chocolate, and even had time to write her one myself.
So despite maternal doubts, the cookies were baked, cool, packaged up and successfully in the mail by 4:30. And the leftovers were delicious!
Today’s Recipe Credits:
World Peace/ Korova cookies from Smitten Kitchen
Homemade Samoas from Baking Bites
Salted Butter Tart from Leite’s Culinaria