Saturday, February 02, 2008

By Hook or By Cookie

If there's anything I've learned in my years of baking, it's that everyone loves home-baked goodies.

The care packages I occasionally send to dear friends and former students regularly elicit cries of rapture, profuse thanks, and the occasional poem. Neighbors and co-workers alike light up when a dish of cookies is thrust upon them. And even My Wonderful Parents grin like kids when I share my latest baking experiments with them.

So how better to make my way in a new group of people than to offer to bake for them? After way too long, I've finally gotten caught up in the local contra dancing whirlwind, and as I discovered before, dancers can work up a great appetite... and an even greater appreciation for homemade cookies.

I offered to help my Contradancing Colleague provide refreshments for this month's dance, so I spent the latter half of the week baking.

The first cookie recipe came directly from a book I no longer remember (something about baking in gratitude?). It's a simple recipe for toffee thins, combining flour, dark brown sugar, salt, butter, and a hint of vanilla -- that's it. Then, like refrigerator cookies, you roll the dough into a log and chill it well before baking.

I made the dough on Wednesday, but I finally sliced and baked the cookies last evening. Funny how the dough looks like trail bologna or something similar!

They don't look like much on the baking sheet as the logs were only about 1 1/2" in diameter.

But they spread out in baking (ah, butter, I love you!) and turn into lacy wisps of molasses-sweet buttery delight. Even though this recipe made nearly 6 dozen thin cookies, I expect they'll all be gobbled up by hungry dancers!

Next, I made a variation on my sunshine cookie recipe, dropping the ginger and almond flavors in favor of cinnamon and plain ol' vanilla.

After baking the cookies on Wednesday, I gave them a couple of days in a tin to cool their heels (as it were) before whipping up (literally!) a glorious bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon ganache to spread over half of the cookies.

Orange, chocolate, and cinnamon sandwiched together -- who could resist?

And finally, this morning I got an early start in the kitchen making my dark chocolate-double nut bars. Between a frenzied cleaning of my apartment and other chores, I pulled together the shortbread base and baked it before mixing the nut topping and adding that to the pan for a heavenly-scented and -flavored concoction.

I won't have many of those to take with me tonight, so I will probably save them for selected folks (like the kind couple who drove me to a dance last weekend and the ever-lovely Contradance Queen).

I'm pretty sure these treats will go over well, and I'm not sure I'll have any left to bring home at the end of the evening.

But I figure if these people can get me hooked on dancing, I'm happy to get them hooked on my cookies!


At 2/04/2008 12:58 PM, Blogger Bri said...

Oooo, what fun! Your cookies all look very tasty and the bars must smell amazing. What a perfect way to end an evening of letting loose on the dance floor, with some fresh baked goods. I'm sure you'll get them hooked. :)

At 2/04/2008 1:08 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

In fact, Bri, one of the comments I overheard at the break was "These are AMAZING cookies!" :-) And one of my friends went back for seconds on each kind. So... I think it's safe to say they were a hit!

At 2/04/2008 4:55 PM, Blogger Ed Bruske said...

This is how I maintain my place in the gardening universe: I feed people. Works like a charm.

At 2/04/2008 8:15 PM, Blogger Tina said...

*drool* Those all sound amazing!

At 2/05/2008 7:03 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It's a great plan, Ed... I find it works well for me, too.

Sorry I didn't have any left to send to you, Tina... but maybe one of these days I'll have to come visit you, haul you out to a contra dance, and we can bake cookies to take with us! Sound good? :-)

At 2/07/2008 8:23 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Sounds good to me!:-)

At 2/09/2008 12:17 PM, Blogger Kelly said...

oooh, contra dancing and cookies! could there be a better combination?

At 2/11/2008 7:09 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Weeeeeeell, Kelly, I could probably think of a few things, but right now I could definitely go for the contra dancing and cookies! :-)


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