Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Fudgey Christmas Memories

I have to keep with the spirit of the season posts here, as today I'm baking cookies. I've been gathering new recipes and might stir up some rum balls for a change of pace. However, my family demands I make Chocolate Chip cookies, and people tell me they hope I give them some in tins. Which is strange because my "secret" recipe is the Nestle Toll House Cookies recipe on the bag of semi-sweet morself. LOL So everyone could make them, if they wanted to. The only thing I do that's not listed on the bag is put foil on my baking sheets (because I reuse the cookie sheets during the baking of a batch). Here's what I made for Santa last year. He didn't eat all of them, but he made a pretty big dent.

I like rolled cookies that are pretty shapes and have icing, but not sprinkles or sugar. Making them is a chore, however, even though I like to decorate the ones that turn out. There's something about rolled dough that challenges me. You can use your Valentine heart cookie cutter for Santa, just put heart tip at the top for his hat. For a few years, I made Linzer cookies, which are basically shortbread-like cookies with red raspberry preserves. Again, they're not easy--too much rolling and cutting and perfecting. I'm more the drop-from-a-spoon type. Maybe that says something about me in general, but I'm not going there. :)

Could be I'm missing the rolling-dough gene. My mom wasn't a cookie or pie baker, but she made moist cakes with frosting that would make your knees buckle and FUDGE to die for, just from the smell. I'd love to be able to make it like she did. But Mom cooks by experience, not by a recipe, so we may have lost this treat forever. She can't cook with anyone in the kitchen, nor can she cook when trying to write down what she's doing. This doesn't bode well for us, especially as Mom hasn't been able to make Fudge for a few years now. Since I don't have a grasp of what a "hard ball or soft ball stage" looks or feels like (or how a drop of fudge cooked to that stage reacts in a cup of water!), I tried to make fudge using a candy thermometer. No luck. I tried different measurements of liquid to attain a "messy but not sloppy" consistency. I kid you not! That's how much milk to add, according to Mom. Now you're getting an idea of what I'm up against. I won't even try to explain how you know when you've beat it enough, but it includes the words shiny and glossy (however, you only want one and the other is bad).

But even if we can't have the Fudge itself, my siblings and I will cherish the memories of buttering the dish, getting to eat the fudge off a beater or scrape the bottom of the saucepan, waiting for the fudge to set enough to eat that first cut bite, still warm, or cheerfully assuring Mom that the "bad" batch of spoon candy (when it didn't set up) was not really a disaster because it tasted so good. Same with the rock hard, chisel-a-chunk-free batches. That smell of rich, luscious fudge cooking on the stove--aaah, my mouth waters!--would bring us from wherever we were in the house.

So, no, I never missed home-made cookies when we had something a zillion times better. Fudge, cooked with love, by Mom. Thanks for the memories, Mom.

Is this peculiar to my family, or is there a food in your family that no one else can make or there's no written recipe for? Do y'all have any suggestions for me--perhaps a good recipe I should try?

Wishing y;all a happy holiday season, with warm fudge, warm times with loved ones, and warm memories for your future.

Megan Kelly


Marcy said...

I laughed at your Mom's baking method since my mother has a similar method of cooking. She uses precise measurements like add the spice until it smells right. Geesh! Doesn't she know that I haven't a clue what 'right' is?

Hope you have a happy holiday season.

Marin Thomas said...

Good grief, Megan! Those are to-die-for cookies!

Megan Kelly said...

Marcy, that method of cooking must be generational. :D

Thanks, Marin. I believe Santa gained a few pounds, which looks okay on *him* but not on me.

Linda Warren said...

I'm laughing. My mom cooked just like that. No recipes. When I'd ask for one, she'd say, "I just make it". I made her write several down and after I was married I paid close attention to what she was doing. As a kid, I was the helper, with one eye on the TV so i didn't learn a lot. I still can't make divinity like she did.

linda s said...

too funny but your cookies look delicious. Neither my mother or DMIL ever gave me the "real" recipe for anything. I had to observe and make notations and corrections.