Monday, December 19, 2011

Lessons Learned Baking Christmas Cookies (on a boat)

Peanut butter blossoms!  They don't look right, but they taste right!
As many of you who follow us on Facebook know, I entered the world of Christmas cookie baking a few days ago...

To be honest, I actually don't think I've ever baked Christmas cookies before (my best friend will tell you I have the worst memory though, which is why I started writing in the first place so maybe I just blocked it out?) and now I know why.

I learned many, many things during this foray into Christmas-cookieness, but the three biggest lessons I learned were the following:

1)  I now understand why people throw parties to make these things.
2)  I also know why I have not been invited to said parties.
3)  As much as I love Christmas, I do not really enjoy Christmas cookie making.


Christmas spirit beat out my lack of enthusiasm for baking, and I decided that I was going to surprise Scott and the passengers and crew of Diamant when they returned to port with a bounty of holiday delectables. Yay, me!  Eight hours later (that's right, eight) I had the following: 24 Mexican wedding cookies, 36 peanut butter blossoms, 36 chocolate-oatmeal-coconut cookies, a burned tongue, three small burns on my hands, one discarded pile of burned/melted chocolatey-marshmallow poo, a very sore back, a chocolate stain on the carpet, chocolate in my hair, flour in places there should not be flour and three beautiful gift tins of cookies to give away! It should also be noted that I used an entire roll of paper towel in the process.  Don't ask me how that's possible, but I did it.

Mexican wedding cookies are YUMMY.  These also don't look right, but they taste right.
This is what the boat looked like during the mayhem.
Other lessons I learned:
  1. Shopping for christmas cookie supplies before you know what you are going to make does not make a whole lot of sense.
  2. You can actually make your own powdered sugar by putting sugar in a food processor (this was the highlight of my day, btw)!
  3. "One batch" in a normal oven is equal to two or three batches in a boat oven, which is only slightly larger than the Easy Bake oven you used when you were six.
  4. The time to make "one batch" is actually doubled or tripled due to the above.
  5. A boat gets really hot really, really fast when an oven is on for hours at a time.
  6. It helps a lot to know for sure if your oven temperature is measured in Celsius or Fahrenheit (I still do not know, experimentation will continue).
  7. You can't melt chocolate over an open flame.  Apparently it needs to be in something called a "water bath", whatever the hell that is.
  8. Adding vegetable oil to melting chocolate while trying to heat it over an open flam does not make it more "melty".
  9. Adding marshmallows to the clumpy, grainy, non-melty chocolate won't turn it into something edible after all.
  10. Chocolate that has been heated over an open flame is as hot as molten lava and you should not "taste" it.  It will burn your tongue and make you scream expletives.
  11. Chocolate that has been improperly melted and then dries is like cement and a major pain in the ass to clean from your cooking utensils.
  12. A mellon-baller (why or how we have one I have no idea) makes a great cookie scooping/shaping mechanism.
  13. Peanut Butter blossoms are really messy to make and cleaning peanut butter and shortening from your cooking utensils is about as easy as rinsing vaseline out of your hair with a trickle of water.
  14. Hershey's kisses do not hold up to the tropical heat and the minute you try to "press" them into the cookie, they melt like Frosty on a black tarmac road in the middle of summer.  Chocolate will get everywhere.
  15. Cooking three different types of cookies (plus one failed attempt at chocolate-dipped marshmallows) will take about eight hours if you are as incompetent as I am in a kitchen.
  16. You people with things like "counters", "pantries", "electric mixers" and "human-sized sinks" really have it made in the shade.  I mean, honestly.
  17. It's best to use two oven mits when handling scalding hot trays of cookies (we only have one, the other we accidentally donated to Poseidon).  
  18. When you touch scalding hot trays of cookies, you will burn and it will hurt.
  19. Despite all the follies, foibles and frustration - cookies made on a boat (with love, of course) actually taste really, really good!!
I realize most of these things are nothing new, but they are all lessons I learned.

A tray of holiday delectables!
In the end, I got three wonderful trays of cookies to give away as gifts.  One went to Scott and the crew over on the boat, one will go to the wonderful staff at the marina and the other...well, I might just keep it.  


Paul said...

Sounds like Clark and Ellen Griswold’s accounting of Christmas baking! (Christmas Vacation) I would imagine it’s like baking in a closet. I think everyone who bakes can relate to your challenges whether on a boat or dry land. My 21 year old daughter tried her hand at it last year and when she was done, it looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy had exploded in my kitchen. However, it’s these types of experiences that makes for great memories. Had everything went as planned, your blog would not had been as much fun to read. Next year you will be too busy taking care of “boat baby” to make cookies and this blog will read considerably different a year from now. You were very successful at giving me inspiration to get my baking done. If you can do it while afloat, I have no really good reason not get mine done. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Debra Jean said...

Water bath! Also known as double boiling. Boil water in one pot and set the chocolate in anohter pot on top of the water boiling pot. It uses the steam to heat the chocolate pot and is MUCH less likely to scorch the chocolate. You still have to stir the melting chocolate continuously. This technique is also the best way to melt cheese. :D ~Debra

Anonymous said...

I think your cookies look delicious and you've already mastered a couple of very important tricks - if they taste good, it doesn't matter if they're perfect and if you pile the plate with an interesting assortment it always looks pretty. You are going to be such a good mom!

Jenny A

SailFarLiveFree said...

Chocolate and peanut butter were made for each other! You could start up the "Rasmus Bakery" if you need to restock the cruising kitty.

Anonymous said...

Haha I actually laughed right out loud while reading this post. Only because I have tried the box full of goodies as christmas presents at least 4 times (with only 1 successful year of actually having something edible to give, to which a friend's husband said "Oh wow thanks, hey...are these suppose to be reindeer droppings?" holding up my biscotti!) Your cookies look amazing and you're an awesome writer Brittany! Thx for hilariously recounting your long day of baking!

Lisa Patterson said...

I needed to laugh, and your writing and recap made me do just that! They look delish!:-)

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Your baking day does sound exhausting .. lol! I love to bake, but maybe because I only bake one thing .. Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies! They're pretty easy and also good! Hope you and Scott have a great Christmas and New Year!

Lisa Hanneman said...

Nope, can't say I remember you ever baking Christmas cookies before this. And can't say you'll do it again.

Knowing that you were making cookies on that boat made for a really entertaining day for me last week.


Unknown said...

I just recently happened across your blog and I've been reading a bunch of different posts (my husband and I plan on getting a boat in a bout a year, and doing some sailing)....this one made me literally laugh out loud HAHA! I can so see myself doing the same thing!

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