Last week I mourned. I took time out to be happy on Wednesday, when Argos and I drove Cojak to his new family in Seattle, but made up for it on Thursday by refusing in any way celebrate Thanksgiving – a holiday I despise despite quite liking turkey, candied yams and green been casserole. Usually I avoid it by sending the Hubbit to visit his sister, but this year that wasn’t an option, so instead I channeled the Mean Wife and abandoned my plan for a feast, and the Hubbit had to fry up a pathetic little piece of ham for himself and the Cool Dude. Friday was no better – I was sad and my face sprang a leak that I couldn’t stop up all day.
Clearly drastic measures were necessary. So I invited 15 people to a cookie party.
A cookie party is a simple and wondrous concept. You invite everyone you know who has an oven to bring 6 dozen cookies to your house. You then ply them with delectable comestibles and let them entertain you with their conversational brilliance. (Note: Any lack of conversational brilliance is your fault. Bring out another bottle.) When you’ve had enough and want them to leave, you do arithmetic. For instance, if eight people have each brought 72 cookies, 72/8=9, therefore everyone gets to take nine cookies off each platter. Invariably people bring extra, and those are yours – the spoils – and while you can share them if you want to they’re probably better used to distract Hubbits while you hide your stash. And that’s it! For the rest of the year, people will trumpet your name as the hostess who sent them home from a great party with 6 dozen assorted home-baked cookies.
Anyway, having invited a hungry horde to descend upon my humble and chronically untidy abode, of course I then I had to clean my house. And also bake a whole lot of stuff. I thought of canceling the party, but that would have been just too feeble – plus I kept getting texts from happy wannabe cookie-eaters about how their individual baking efforts were going.
So I hurled together a double batch of Refrigerator Cookies, as well as a cheesecake and a malva pudding. Other people brought more goodies, so I canceled my plan to make Chocolate Sour Cream Zucchini Cake, but you really should try it – it’s wonderful! The end result was good and a vast amount of sugar was consumed by all. And since I couldn’t invite the denizens of the blogoverse to share, I figured I’d at least pass along a few recipes. You still have time to organize your own cookie party in plenty of time for Christmas!
Fridge biscuits – aka “Refrigerator Cookies” for my American friends, who have given the humble biscuit a strange and perverted meaning involving gravy – were one of my Marmeee’s standbys. The dough is easy to make, you chill it for half an hour, and then you roll it out into sausages, which you wrap in wax paper and store in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to slice and bake them. The only downside to this is the cookie dough is irresistible, so if you’re planning to hold them for long, make extra. And then, damage control: store them where no one but you will see them.
The basic recipe isn’t wildly exciting, but it is incredibly forgiving and permits many complex variations on its simple theme. An option that kids love is to make two separate batches, one chocolate and one vanilla. You can then roll them out flat and lay one on top of the other before rolling them up into sausages, as described in the recipe. The end result is either a spiral pattern or Rorschach cookies – and which you choose will tell us much about who you are in those deep parts of you that cookies don’t go. For this year’s cookie party I made one batch of chocolate and ginger (I replaced some of the flour with cocoa powder, and added several generous spoons of ground ginger) and another batch with chocolate chips and chopped walnuts (I just made up a batch of plain dough and then, using my hands, squeezed and mixed in as much chopped nuts and chocolate chips as I thought it would hold). You could also add raisins, or lemon or orange rind and juice (plus a bit extra flour), or nutmeg and raisins, or cranberries – just have fun with it!
I roll up my sausages so that they’re about 1 1/4 inches (just over 3 cm) in diameter, and I slice them about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick. Based on those measurements, a single batch will make about 4 dozen cookies.
8 oz butter
13 oz sugar
3 ml vanilla essence
17 oz flour
3 ml salt
3 ml baking powder
3 ml baking soda
- Cream butter and add sugar, creaming well.
- Add eggs and vanilla essence and beat well.
- Sift flour with salt, baking powder and baking soda, and add to mixture.
- Chill until stiff enough to handle.
- Form into rolls, wrap in wax paper, and store in fridge.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 340ºF.
- Cut slices and place on greased baking tray, spaced to allow them to spread, in center of oven until they’re just starting to brown around the edges. (Time depends on how thick you slice them. I cut mine about a half inch thick and they were done in 12 minutes in a convection oven.)
Easy Baked Cheesecake
This is a good cheesecake recipe, but it does present a few challenges. First, it’s important not to over-bake it. Remember that it will continue cooking after you take it out of the oven. I’m still experimenting with how to get a firm but soft filling, and I imagine you’ll need to do your own experimenting depending on your altitude, your oven, and your preferences.
Second, I’d like a stronger hint of lemon than I managed this time. A “drop” of lemon juice doesn’t really cut it; I think next time I’ll skip the vanilla and add a “dollop” of lemon or lime juice … and maybe I’ll stir in some lemon or lime zest while I’m at it.
Lastly, although it tastes wonderful it doesn’t look that pretty. In my experience the topping tends to crack. So plan on slathering the top with whipped cream!
1-2 pkts of graham crackers or tennis biscuits, crushed
8 oz butter, melted
- Mix, making sure the crackers are saturated but all the butter has been absorbed.
- Press down onto base of 8×8″ pie plate.
- Refrigerate until the butter sets.
18 oz cream cheese
10 Tbsp sugar
Drop of vanilla essence
Drop of lemon juice
2 Tbsp flour
- Preheat oven to 390 ºF.
- Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice until they’re smooth.
- Add eggs and flour and mix well.
- Pour over base.
- Bake 35 minutes until just turning brown round the edges, and remove from oven.
9 oz sour cream
Splash lemon juice
2 Tbsp sugar
- Mix well.
- Pour over hot cake, and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve chilled with whipped cream.