When I watched “Scooby-Doo” growing up, I was always surprised when the gang revealed the monster to be a person in disguise. Every. Time. It also happens when I cook. I expect every recipe to turn out okay, and I’m genuinely surprised when I pull a dish out of the oven to discover otherwise. Every. Time.
My mom kicks off the holiday season by making a dozen different kinds of cookies. She spends an entire day mixing, rolling and baking her treats. She sends every friend away with a large plate piled high with homemade cookies. Mom’s cookies are ill suited for children. In fact, I call them “adult cookies.” Like adult films, these are not made for a child’s discerning palate. You know the cookies I’m talking about: those stuffed with mysterious textures and flavors like cardamom, rich liqueurs, chewy fruit bits, slimy jams and boatloads of hidden nuts. At the very least, they are the kinds of cookies that send kids running for the garbage. Worst case, they send them into anaphylactic shock.
Her favorite has always been the Dizzy Lizzy. It’s like a mini fruitcake trying to pass for something it’s not: a decent cookie. It’s filled with nuts, rum-soaked raisins (hence, the “dizzy”) and little candied fruits that are neither candy nor fruit. It took my sister and me two decades to finally admit to Mom that we loathed Dizzy Lizzies and had been sticking the candied fruit to the underside of the table for years like gooey stalactites.
Mom dismissed our hatred, claiming that our palates simply hadn’t developed. Wait, I finally got breasts and now you’re telling me that I’m still waiting on a palate?
Mom would never taint her holiday plate with a pedestrian chocolate chip cookie or plain ol’ brownie. She wants a standout—a cookie that takes too long to assemble and the room for error is as wide as Santa’s waistline. Always wanting to impress my mom, I’ve been on the search for the ideal cookie to knock her Christmas stockings off. I chose Paula’s Magnolia Lace Trumpets. According to Paula, it’s an easy recipe, but it requires timing, shaping and filling, and its name is longer than a Peter Jackson film. I found my adult cookie. And it’s not even called a cookie.
That should’ve been my first Scooby clue. The recipe says to “invert” the dough upon removing it from the oven, and I assumed that meant I should flip it over. As it turned out, inverting it meant turning the dough inside out because when I used the spatula to try to lift the little pancake, it smeared across the cookie sheet like a windshield wiper over bird doodie. So I re-shaped the molten dough and then molded it over the length of a turkey baster (the closest thing I have to a cone other than a lampshade). The result was more Silly Putty than crispy lace. Still, I waited until I thought it was set and then slid the dough from the baster. It collapsed into a gooey heap. It didn’t resemble a trumpet. It didn’t even resemble food.
On the other hand, the creamy filling looked pretty but it was as gritty as cat litter. And I had nothing to stuff it into. When my neighbor dropped by, I saw my chance. I swiftly patted the greasy putty flat and topped it with a dollop of filling.
“Try this,” I told him, presenting my cookie and smiling sweetly.
But as my neighbor took his first bite, my husband raced by me with the garbage can in hand.
“Here!” my husband yelled, shovel passing the garbage can to our neighbor.
And he spewed out that cookie with the force of a trumpet player. Oh, the irony.
Per usual, I don’t know where I went wrong, but apparently, to make an adult cookie you must possess culinary skills that extend beyond the ability to warm a Pop-Tart. So this Christmas, instead of making adult cookies, I’ll give my mom the Magnolia Lace Trumpets recipe for her to conquer, and hopefully she’ll replace the outdated Dizzy Lizzy. My contribution to the cookie plate will be Oreos, which I’m sure Mom will “forget” to plate. At least the kids and the underdeveloped adults will have something to eat.
Andrea Goto lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia. Her kitchen experiments (known as “cooking” in more conventional homes) most often end with a mushroom cloud of smoke or a call to Poison Control. In spite of this, she’s deeply loved by her husband who prefers neon-colored cereals to all foods homemade, and her 4-year-old daughter who will eat almost anything, as long as you call it “chicken.” Need more Andrea? Follow her at www.andreagoto.com.
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