It seems everyone has been writing “Best of the Year” posts, or sharing their resolutions, or at the very least sending out New Year’s wishes. I’ve been very quiet, and I feel rather bad about it. But truth be told, I’ve never been big on New Year. I love Christmas, but New Year never brings out quite the same excitement in me. It never feels like as big a milestone as it’s supposed to be – even this year, which marks the end of a whole decade. To put it in Internet-speak, I feel sort of “meh” about the whole thing.
But that’s still no excuse to completely ignore it, or to be the New Year equivalent of The Grinch (although he probably hated New Year just as much as Christmas– and Easter too, I’m betting). So, allow me to wish you all a wonderful 2010! May this year be filled with success, joy, and laughter. And of course, delicious meals!
And to start the year off, how about some cookies? I know cookies tend to be associated with Christmas, but I say, bollocks to that: cookies should be made and eaten all year round. And it had been a while since I had made any (apart from macarons).
My lack of practice showed. I was in a rush, so I flipped through Martha Stewart’s Cookies, in search of a couple of no-rest recipes I could whip up. The first was a recipe I had tried before, for Cocoa Shortbread Diamonds. The reason you don’t see any diamonds on the picture is that I didn’t have a diamond-shaped cutter, and apparently couldn’t be bothered to find a ruler. So, Cocoa Shortbread Disks it was (they’re the two bottom cookies).
The first time I tried this recipe, it failed to pull together, and I had to salvage it by adding cream. The exact same thing happened this time around. I don’t know if I’m doing something consistently wrong, or if it’s the recipe itself, but my dough comes out too dry every time. Maybe it’s because I insist on mixing the dough by hand, instead of in a food processor? If anyone knows, do share!
The white chocolate topping adds a lot to these cookies, which would otherwise be a little dry. Ideally, you’re supposed to drizzle it in a fine thread, to form a delicate pattern (see Martha’s website). I tried to use a small icing syringe, but the melted chocolate wouldn’t pass through the tiny tip (I later discovered it was clogged with old royal icing), so I had to use a larger one. Delicate patterns were never my thing.
While I probably won’t go out of my way to make this shortbread again, the other cookies I made (represented by the big broken cookie in the picture) were a hit. These Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies are absolutely satisfying. Their size allows for a variety of textures within a single cookie: chewy on the edges, soft and cakey in the center. I made them with coarse cane sugar, which gave them an added crunch and a different kind of sweetness.
On another note, you may find my pictures to be a little different in this post, a little fuzzier in places. I’ve been playing around with Laurent’s old Nikon D70, trying to learn to use a SLR properly. I’ve been using a Canon Powershot S5IS so far – a really good compact, but I think I’m ready to explore more options. I’m still struggling a little to get a feel for the SLR, it works in so many different ways than what I’m used to. Not being able to see what the picture will looks like before I snap the shot is especially unsettling for me. As is having such precise distinctions between foreground and background focus: with the compact, I had to push my camera to its limits just to get a slightly blurred background, whereas now I have room to play around in – for better or for worse. In fact, I think Laurent took these particular pictures: mine had… issues.
But I'll get better! I may not be big on New Year's resolutions, but I can at least set this as a goal!