The e-mails came fast and furious yesterday.
“Seriously -- you should market these yummy treats!! I’m savoring every bite….”
“What a great birthday event, Diana. I’d love to get the recipes.”
“Seriously, I need that cookie recipe!!! Sooooo good!”
“Such a NICE treat to have homemade goodies from such a pro!”
I reveled in their praise of the pumpkin cookies and Skor bar coffee cake I made for an office birthday party, but at the same time felt a little disingenuous. If they knew what I went through to bake the darn pumpkin cookies nobody would think I was a “pro.” The whole affair was prime material for a sitcom called “Undomestic Goddess” – starring me, the perpetually flawed, cookie sheet burn victim.
First there was the unnecessarily complicated gathering of supplies. I went to Target to get a cooling rack (the racks from my roommate’s toaster oven just weren’t going to cut it anymore), to Trader Joe’s to get dried cranberries and walnuts, then finally to Gelson’s to get white chocolate chips, unsalted butter, ground cloves, and pumpkin puree.
Hitch number one came when I discovered that my preferred brand of spice was charging $11 a jar for ground cloves. Cloves were immediately nixed from the recipe.
Hitch number two came when I was half-way back to my apartment and realized that I’d forgotten the pumpkin (kind of essential for pumpkin cookies).
And hitch number three came when I discovered that my Gelson’s only has the jumbo 4-cup cans of pumpkin puree in stock – 3 cups more than I needed for my recipe. I shuddered away my pangs of guilt (I hate to waste food), and charged toward the register. At this point, it was already 3:30 pm on Sunday, and I still had to allow at least 40 minutes for the butter to soften at room temperature.
The actual preparation of the batter went fine. I love carefully measuring out ingredients and seeing all the raw food products come together into something that will eventually be edible. Everything was going rather swimmingly until I started to bake the cookies.
The first two batches came out without issue. The batter was difficult to work with because of its sticky consistency, but I still had no trouble getting the cookies in and out of the oven sans mishap. The problem came with the third batch. By this juncture in the afternoon (5 pm), I just wanted to get the whole production over and done with so I could do something mindless like stare at a wall or watch last week’s episode of “The City.” For the first two sheets, I had played by the rules and only baked eight cookies at time, but in my rush to get the cookies finished, I decided to cram the last thirteen on one sheet.
Not so smart.
The additional cookies, plus the cooler temperature of the batter (I refrigerated it between batches), wrecked complete havoc on the standard 11 – 14 minute baking time. They weren’t done after 14 minutes. Or after 15 minutes. I finally took them out at 16 minutes, and then popped my Skor bar coffee cake in the oven in their place, only to realize a few minutes later that the cookies still weren’t done. Frustrated, I shoved the cookie sheet back in the oven on the rack underneath the coffee cake.
I checked on them 3 minutes later – thinking that they’d for sure be done, but the darn cookies were still gooey in the center! I left them out lest I compromise the integrity of my coffee cake, as well, and decided to just put them back in after the cake was ready. Which I did.
For another four minutes.
The cookies finally looked done at this point, but four lone cookies still refused to bake through completely – even after I separated them from the cooperative ones and put them back in the oven. Finally, after three more minutes of unproductive baking time, I took the still soggy cookies out.
And burned my arm.
Not just a little burn, like the ones that are perpetually lining the insides of my wrists. Oh no, this kind of burn elicits cries of concern, “What happened to your arm?!”
One inch long, 1/3rd inch wide and a shade of purple that doesn’t go with any of my cute dresses from Anthropologie, the burn is like a scarlet letter.
“Diana is not a domestic goddess. Diana is not a domestic goddess at all!” It says.
Fortunately, my roommates were nonplused by the half-raw centers of the four errant cookies and eagerly devoured them before I could introduce them to the trash can. Their praise assured me that I could serve the cookies to my coworkers the following day, and I excitedly brought the fruits of my exhaustive labor to work the next morning.
Only to discover that the party was cancelled.
The shindig finally went down yesterday morning, but I couldn’t help but smile when my officemates applauded me for the cookies. “If only they knew,” I thought, as I fingered the sweater material covering my burn. “If only they knew…”
Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from recipe on VeryBestBaking.com
1 cup (2 sticks butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup pumpkin
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted)
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 (12 oz) package white chocolate chips
Beat softened butter (I let come to room temperature rather than melting in microwave) with sugar. Add egg, pumpkin, vanilla and beat until well-combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon so it is light in texture. Gently fold into pumpkin mixture. Add walnuts, cranberries, white chocolate chips. (Original recipe called for macadamia nuts instead of walnuts and omitted the cranberries - so feel free to play with it according to your preferences!) Once combined, use a spoon to create golf-ball sized cookies -- bake no more than 8 at a time to ensure they cook evenly. (Note: Batter will be very sticky. It will be easier to work with if you refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes prior to baking, but you will need to increase the baking time accordingly.)
Bake on greased cookie sheet for 11 - 14 minutes at 350 degrees. (Mine took approximately 14 minutes due to the girthier size!) Allow to cool 2 minutes before removing from sheet and cooling on wire rack. (Definitely don't skip this step -- the cookies are very fragile when they come out of the oven and need a few minutes to set.)
Makes approximately 30 cookies.