Sunday, December 27, 2015

I slaved all day over... never mind

The holidays are a time when all my baking supplies get hauled out for one continuous bake-fest. You would swear an archaeological dig was taking place in my kitchen the week before Christmas. Cookie cutters, bowls of various sizes, rolling pins and baking sheets are resurrected for a few weeks. It often goes past New Year’s these days so we can get one last baking bonanza in for Second Born to take cookies back to college.

In the past I have sent Spouse to work with mounds of cookies that are wiped out by coworkers in a matter of hours. I’m not a fancy baker and none of the recipes are that complicated (there was that one year when I was cursing the pretzel antlers for reindeer cookies), but it is something I’ve come to enjoy. This year, however, being away for two weeks just before the holidays messed with getting the cookie baking off the ground.

The week before Christmas I had to provide desserts for two of Spouse’s holiday work parties. Normally that would mean mounds of cookies. Still dragging myself back to reality and out of jet lag, my baking tins stayed buried in the cabinet. I opted instead for a no-bake dessert that never fails to impress.

Since this yummy treat is made with a spring form pan it even looks like I slaved away for hours, when all I did was mix ingredients in a couple of bowls, toss them together and pour the end result in the pan aligned with ladyfingers. It was topped with blueberry pie filling and devoured by the end of the party.

Ladyfingers are the best dessert invention ever, next to angel food cake. Both make perfect bases for easy no-bake desserts. My chocolate pudding trifles, just as easy as the ladyfinger pie, have won rave reviews. I enjoy taking full credit for not breaking a sweat when I’m putting these treats together.
Before anyone accuses me of cheating by not baking – color me guilty as charged. Time got away from me this year and that meant the semi-sweet chocolate chips, powdered sugar, new bottle of vanilla and green food coloring have taken a back seat to the ease of no-bake desserts.

It’s not even the baking that takes up the bulk of the time. It’s the cleaning up. I’m sure someone out there can relate to washing endless amounts of bowls, spoons, baking pans, and cooling racks once the baking is done. There is a delicate balance between cooling the first batch of cookies just enough so you can transfer them to airtight containers and ready the cooling racks for the next batch. I never seem to have enough storage containers to hold all those cookies until I can transfer them to the right size gift-giving containers. I’m exhausted thinking about it and I haven’t even touched on sweeping and mopping the powdered, sugared, chocolate chipped kitchen floor yet.

Since neither daughter is home this year for the holidays I’m sure that’s also had an effect on my baking mojo. Case in point: it is December 22 as of this writing and the artificial tree we borrowed from The Neighbors (neither child was here for the annual examine-every-tree-on-the-tree-farm-before-choosing-one) stands unadorned in front of our living room window. Feel free to weep openly for me right now.

The Love Couple will descend upon our home for a belated family Christmas right after Second Born arrives home in early January, and it is likely cookies will be at the ready. We will still make some to send for the college kids. I will also still continue to cheat with no-bake desserts when the occasion calls for a quick fix that looks like it took hours, and I will enjoy the accolades.

After all, going bake-free is not necessarily a piece of cake.

P.S. The tree did get decorated on Christmas Eve and will remain so until everyone is together. And I broke down and made cookies after writing this post. It was either that or eat the entire bag of semi-sweet chips I had in the freezer. I'm still not convinced I made the best choice.


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