Somehow I don’t think Truman Capote was thinking about inflatable fruitcakes when he wrote A Christmas Memory. However, the holiday season is upon us, and that means eating. And hopefully lots of it.
Like Abby, I can’t cook worth a damn – but I can bake when I get in the mood to do so. So in the next few weeks, I’ll start up my annual round of cookies – chocolate chip, mostly, along with my famous meringues. (Which take forever, but are so totally worth it.)
For quick and dirty baking, though – I drag out the bread machine and toss it on the Quick Bread setting. And then I make a run to Williams Sonoma and buy a fair number of gourmet bread mixes.
1) It’s easy – just dump it all into the bread machine and turn it on. 2 hours later, and you’ve got an awesome treat.
2) They make good gifts.
3) Have I mentioned easy?
And not to be a shill for WS, but they really do have some of the best flavors…Gingerbread Spice, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Snickerdoodle, Banana Caramel. Did I say bread? More like cake, honestly. And looking at their site I just noticed they also have EggNog Pancake mix. *ahemChristmasgiftformeahem*
And to prove to you all that I’m not always a lazy sack – here’s the meringue recipe. (And these take several hours of work, so be prepared…)
You will need:
6 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 big ass bag of chocolate chips – (semi-sweet is best – takes the edge off the sugar)
1) Let the egg whites stand at room temp at least one hour. (Yes – crack the eggs and get the egg whites – tricky, but pampered chef actually has an egg separator that will do this – otherwise you crack the egg and pour the yolk back and forth between the shell halves over the bowl and let the white run out into the bowl.)
2) Add salt to egg white. Beat with electric mixer at high speed until whites are stiff enough to hold shape. (Usually around 5 minutes for me)
3) At low speed add sugar – 2 tablespoons at a time, beating 2 minutes after each addition (this can take a long time, especially if you want to make a double batch – but don’t skimp on the time…)
4) Heat oven to 275 F
5) Add vinegar and vanilla – beat 10 minutes at high speed. (I usually dump the chips in after that – and just mix a little slower for another minute or two to mix them up)
6) Drop by heaping spoonful onto a buttered cookie sheet. (Or nonstick really – this thing was written before all that teflon stuff)
7) Bake 45 minutes, reduce heat to 250 F, bake 15 minutes or until creamy white and firm
8) Remove from rack; cool. (duh)
Baking time is really gonna depend on your oven and where you put them on the rack, so you need to kinda watch that first batch or so and adjust accordingly. They may start to crack if you bake them too quickly (and they probably will a bit anyway), but if you’re not careful they’ll crack and harden on the outside but be kinda gooey and uncooked on the inside. Although honestly, they taste pretty damn good either way.
If you’re feeling really ambitious and can time it right for a party or something, you can crack them open when they’re nice and hot and stuff them with ice cream to serve to friends.
They are very, very sweet – chances are if you don’t like things like peeps, you probably won’t like these, but the chocolate chips really do balance it out a bit.