Wordless Wednesday: Mr. Dewie’s
Christmas isn’t for everyone. The forced merriment and artificial optimism, sour memories that fall short of Hollywood-produced nostalgia, stressful family gatherings topped off by unnecessary expenses; it’s enough to make the most joyful person into a real Scrooge. Even the most committed holiday reveler would struggle to maintain the same level of enthusiasm in this harsh reality. You know what is for everyone, though?
Chocolate cut-out cookies, to be precise, will never disappoint. With a batch of homemade cookies, you can express how you really feel about the holiday season without coming off as a miserly curmudgeon. No one ever said they had to be decked out in colorful sprinkles or intricate icing, so why not keep it simple, classic, and versatile?
This particular recipe may just be a new staple in your repertoire. You’d never know that they’re gluten-free or vegan by their soft, toothsome texture or rich cocoa flavor. The dough comes together quickly, rolls out like a dream, and never judges you for your low spirits.
Like any good cookie dough, this one is as versatile as Christmas carols are grating.
Easily change up the flavor by switching out the extract.
A few tried-and-true additions include:
- Peppermint extract
- Almond extract
- Orange zest or extract
- Instant coffee powder
- Coarse or flaky sea salt
No cookie cutters? No problem!
You may need to cut back on the snark without such clear messaging, but you don’t need to forgo a sweet treat altogether. Simply roll out the dough as instructed, then use a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or fluted pastry cutter to slice squares or rectangles of any size. Think of this approach as the dessert equivalent of making crackers, if that procedural reference helps you visualize the steps.
Don’t succumb to the Christmas crazies. Celebrate at your own speed, even if that means staying home and keeping holiday content completely off the program. Just don’t forget to treat yourself while you’re at it. Holidays come and go, but a good recipe for chocolate cut-out cookies is forever.
Ube On My Mind
If pumpkin is for autumn, ube is for winter. Replacing subdued, smokey orange with bold shades of purple, there’s no denying that the vibrant hue alone is a huge attraction. Naturally sweet with subtle hints of vanilla and toasted nuts, ube is the clear winner when it comes to dessert. Start your annual holiday cookie platter with Ube Thumbprint Cookies, glistening like jewels in a sea of browns and whites, for a stand-out homemade gift that no one can refuse.
What is ube?
Let’s start by clarifying what ube isn’t. Ube are different from taro and purple sweet potatoes, despite the common misconception. Ube are yams, most commonly found in Filipino cuisine and particularly popular in desserts. Their vivid magenta pigmentation creates brilliantly colored treats, and as such, can be found as powdered and liquid extracts. Fresh ube can still be tricky to find in the US, which is why ube extract comes in handy for all your essential baking needs.
While most commercial ube extract does have added artificial flavoring, it’s the easiest, most accessible way to add that unmistakable essence whenever and where ever you crave it. When it comes to recipes with a delicate balance of dry and liquid ingredients, it’s the best way to infuse the goodness of ube without throwing off the texture.
What else is ube extract good for?
Once you have a bottle, the potential for ube extract is endless. It’s particularly well-suited for use in:
- Ice cream
- Frosting and icing
- Pudding and custard
- And of course, cookies!
When it comes to cut-out cookies, these are the GOAT. Easy to make, shape, and bake, this dough is a dream to work with. More importantly, the soft, tender bite and balanced sweetness makes an ideal base for any festive flavors. Beyond the ube base, put your own personalized finishing touch on each batch with any jam, marmalade, or fruit preserves you fancy. Mix and match to make every bite a little bit different!
A few fruit flavors that pair particularly well with ube are:
Put a flavorful twist on tradition this year and invite ube to your cookie swap. It won’t take long before it becomes the life of the party.
Fade To Black Friday
Black Friday is upon us yet again. While it will never be quite the same since the pandemic pushed many frenzied bargain shoppers online and out of stores, such celebrated holiday traditions are unshakable. To some, the thrill of the hunt can be even more joyous than giving or opening this plunder. I salute these people for their tenacity and thrift, while staying cozy in fuzzy slippers and do everything in my power to avoid the crowds.
Is there a better way to do Black Friday?
If you’re on team Stay Home today, welcome to the party! I have an even better prize to share that does proper justice to this dark day.
Straight from the pages of Super Vegan Scoops!, my Brooklyn Blackout Blizzard Cake will give all new meaning to Black Friday that everyone can get behind. It’s been one of the biggest hits from the book for obvious reasons. As an early gift, I’d like to give this one to you and start the festivities on a sweet note. Sure, the weather outside might be frightful, but that’s all the more reason to bundle up inside, blast the heat, and take off the edge with a frozen treat.
What is a Brooklyn Blackout Blizzard Cake?
Sink your fork into a thick slice and close your eyes. This sensation, this euphoric, intoxicated, suddenly blissful feeling you’re experiencing? This isn’t death by chocolate, it’s LIFE by chocolate! The original Brooklyn Blackout Cake, iconic for its jet-black crumb coating and pudding-smothered layers, really does mean well, but doesn’t quite reach the frosty peaks that my ice queen here does. Firm yet supple layers stacked up with a no-churn chocolate custard beckon, reviving jaded chocolate lover with one bite. Kids and adults alike will clamor to help “clean up” the fallen crumbs left behind.
Dashboard Cookie Confessional
Ever since I was a little kid, it’s something I wanted to do. Young and naive, I couldn’t wait to grow up to have such freedom and access. Now that I’m an adult, I’m finally making my inner child proud: I baked cookies inside my car.
As temperatures began to exceed 100℉ on a regular basis, I knew this was my time to shine. Finally, I have my own car, live in an environment that’s somewhere between the depths of hell and the surface of the sun, and am still crazy enough to do it. If you’ve always wanted to open up your car door and step into your own mobile oven, here’s what you need to know.
- Metal baking sheets are the best conductors of heat, but that goes both ways. Place a kitchen towel, pot holder, or trivet underneath so it doesn’t melt or burn the interior of your car.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the cookies from sticking. A silicone baking mat will absorb too much heat to be effective, and aluminum will reflect too much and cause the edges to get too crispy.
- Likewise, use a pot holder whenever moving the sheet because it will be hot.
Placement and Timing Are Important
- Make sure you park your car in direct sun to maximize those UV rays.
- Start baking when the sun is at its peak; usually around noon or 1:00pm.
- While your cookies will bake in any position, I found it was most effective to place the baking sheet directly on the dashboard, as close to the windshield as possible. Barring that, the next best place is the trunk, as long as you have a glass window in back too.
Turn Up The Heat
- Keep the windows rolled up and the doors closed. Any time you open them or break the seal, you’re letting the heat drop.
- It needs to be at least 95℉ (35°C)outside to attempt this with any level of success.
- Keep a thermometer inside your car to monitor the temperature, and place it somewhere that you can see it without getting into the car.
- The interior needs to reach at least 160℉ (71°C) to “bake” effectively.
- Cooking time will vary, since this isn’t a regulated heat source. Expect it take anywhere from 2 – 5 hours for the cookies to set. They may not brown as much as you’d normally expect, but should be firm enough to pick up and no longer shiny on top.
Recipe For Success
- While any recipe can technically work, simple drop cookies are your best bet, since they’re more forgiving with variable times and temperatures. A cookie with a high butter to flour ratio is more likely to end up greasy, which means that chewy wins the battle over crunchy for this round.
- Size does matter. My usual cookies use about 1/4 cup of dough, which took roughly 3 hours to bake while it was 104 degrees outside. You can expedite the process by making smaller cookies, especially if it’s not as hot in your neck of the woods.
- Vegans have the added benefit of being able to eat semi-baked or even raw cookies without fear. Look ma, no raw eggs! That means every attempt is always successful, with or without an excessive heat warning in effect.
The beauty of car-baked cookies is that you’re using a completely renewable, entirely free energy source while saving electricity inside your home! No need to blast the AC after cranking up the oven, which can add up quickly.
The only thing better than sinking your teeth into warm, gooey, homemade cookies on a hot summer day is getting to enjoy that freshly baked aroma for weeks to come. Hope you don’t drive hungry!