I was in the baking aisle the other day, and I almost expected the shelves to vibrate from the chaos. People were either on the phone asking for instructions, or they were standing, whispering words out loud, almost waiting for the ingredients to hover in front of them as soon as they called their name.
It was like being at the dinner table in a Harry Potter movie; where the noise level gets so loud that you think you might just have to scream, but you know that if you close your eyes for a few moments, the magic will begin, and everyone will eventually get their hungry wish.
But, this was the supermarket, and all the wishing in the world won't get the candied ginger to jump up, introduce itself, and sit politely in your basket. So, I bought what I needed and left; torn between wanting to help everyone find what they were looking for, and the almost uncontrollable urge to drop everything and run as fast as I could to my nice, quiet car.
I think it is really hard if you don't bake all the time, and you are expected to "bring a plate", or provide sweet treat gifts during the Holiday season. Not everyone likes to do this, and there seems to be the added pressure of being expected to show up with something that is both pretty and homemade at the same time. Buying from the store is secretly frowned upon, and often handed over with an apology and a quick hug.
I actually love to bake, but sometimes my thoughts are bigger than my reality, and I can't always spend a long, lazy afternoon with Elvis Presley in the kitchen. So, for those days, I have my go-to, none-thinking, quick-supermarket-visit, semi-homemade, un-apologetic, inexpensive desserts, that I can make in less than half an hour, make in bulk, the children can help, and, they all have three basic ingredients or less....
Ingredients: A roll of frozen, chocolate chip cookie dough (if you can find one that says real chocolate chunks or chips, that is always nicer than chocolate flavored).
Optional - More chocolate chips, dried cherries, raisins, cranberries, nuts, coconut etc.
Things to do with the cookie dough, other than just slice and bake.
- Tip the dough into a large bowl, squish in the optional ingredients, roll into balls about the size of a small golf ball, flatten slightly with a floured fork, and bake.
- Make them extra big, flatten a bit with the palm of your hand, and add a few minutes onto the baking time.
- Roll it into balls and pop in the fridge for about twenty minutes. Coat the raw dough in melted chocolate, and put back in the fridge for a few minutes until set (just warn people that it is raw dough, but I can't imagine it would harm anyone).
- Add some colored sprinkles, candies, or brown sugar to the top before baking.
- Slice per instructions on package, roll each slice into a ball, then roll into a bowl of sugar. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with a fork dipped into flour.
- Squish it all together, add optional ingredients if you want, and pat it into a pie tin. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes at 350 F. Cut into slices, and serve warm with ice cream.
Ingredients: Candy Canes (any amount) and Chocolate (white, dark or milk - any amount).
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, silicone liner or a well-greased piece of foil.
- Crush a few candy canes, leaving some chunks..
- Melt chocolate at 30 second intervals in the microwave until runny. Add 3/4 of the crushed candy canes and stir.
- Spread onto cookie sheet and top with last bit of candy canes. Pressing down slightly so it sticks.
- Refrigerate for about few minutes, then break up into pieces.
Ingredients: 3 cups (18 oz) Chocolate (white, dark or milk) and 1 can of regular Sweetened Condensed Milk (in the baking aisle) and a pinch of salt.
Optional - 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 cup of nuts, crushed cookies, dried cranberries etc.
- Grease and line an 8 x 8 pan with foil or parchment, or just grease a piece of foil and put it on a cookie sheet.
- Melt the chocolate, condensed milk and salt over a low heat. Stirring all the time (easier with a metal spoon).
- As soon as it is melted (it doesn't take long) add your optional ingredients and pour into the pan, or spread onto the cookie sheet.
- When set, cut into shapes.
Photograph of cookie tower from: www.framedcooks.com