Election Cookies for The American President

When I was eight years old I wanted to be president, the first woman president. Being young and lacking worldly judgement it never occurred to me that my declaration of a life dream could cause laughter. But, laughs, in fact, I heard. It was at a slumber party for a classmate that I learned a pretty valuable life lesson. While hosting a gaggle of girls naturally the theme for the party was a beauty pageant. Each “contestant” decorated her own sash and competed in such events as swim wear (cannon balls) and talent (lip syncing to Paula Abdul). Then came the interview segment. The pageant host (birthday girl’s father) interrogated the contestants with gripping questions like “what’s your favorite flavor of Kool-aid” or “which New Kid On the Block would you marry?” My turn came and I strutted my way to the host. He complemented me on my hot pink feathered boa and plastic Barbie heels. Then he asked me the question. The question that would give rise to my sophisticated answer and provoke the laughter stuck in my memory forever. “Amy, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I confidently answered, “I want to be the first woman President.” Then came the snickers from the “judges” (beer guzzling fathers). “Don’t you mean First Lady?”, one of them chuckled to me. I remember this moment very clearly. It could be considered the moment I grew up. It was the moment I realized not all adults are right. And somehow I knew that things may be a little different for me than for, say, my older brother. I promised myself then and there that I would never cave to anyone else’s misconceptions and I would always stand firmly in my beliefs, especially in myself. I’m also proud to say that my father was in no way associated with these “gentlemen”. He would never have laughed at me. He would never have belittled me. He would always give me encouragement. I’ll also be forever grateful that I was raised by a strong woman who taught me that sometimes the popular way might not always be the right way. If I didn’t have the love and support of my wonderful parents I might not have had the capacity to understand those men were wrong. Granted, I’m not going to be the first woman President. I’ve got other plans now. But, that doesn’t mean another girl can’t have her dream come to fruition. In fact, I just voted for our 2012 election and there were more women on my ballot than men. Maybe a woman president will happen soon.

🙂

The American President is one of those movies that is always played on TBS or TNT and every time it’s on I have to watch it. I’m looking at you too Shawshank Redemption. Do you too  find there are fictional characters that you really wish you could vote for in real life? Hey, Leslie Knope, why aren’t you running for my state representative? President Andrew Shephard is also a name I’d like to see on the ballot. Maybe it’s the dialogue crafted by the words-man Aaron Sorkin. Or maybe it’s the strong character  expressed through the gravely voice and the steely eyes of Michael Douglas. Whatever it is, I feel connected to this man personally. I root for him. I want him to lead me. Why can’t this be real life? Well, because real life isn’t directed by Rob Reiner. But, wouldn’t it be awesome if it was? Until then…

Let’s bake a movie…

Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Frosting

Do you want to know the secret to why everyone seems to love my sugar cookies? It’s very simple really. Almond extract. Be sure to add the almond extract. Don’t have any in your cabinet? Get some. The flavor, the smell are so rich and yummy. These cookies bake to perfection. Crispy on the outside but soft and smooth on the inside. And smothering them in frosting certainly only increases the value. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 can of white/vanilla store bought frosting (it works best with technique below)
Red, blue, green food coloring

DIRECTIONS

1) In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth (about 2 mins). Add the egg and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides. Blend in the almond extract, vanilla, and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour in two parts. Mix until just combined and a dough forms. Dived dough in half, wrap each in cellophane. and flatten into a disc. Chill dough until firm (30 mins to 1 hour).

2) Preheat oven to 375. On a well floured work surface, roll out one section at a time to 1/4 inch thickness. Lightly flour cookie cutter and cut out as many cookies as you can and place on a cookie sheet. Ball up and then flatten out remaining dough and repeat until all dough is used. Repeat with other section of dough, If the dough gets too soft while you’re working with it simply pop it back in the freezer to chill for a bit. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully to see that they don’t brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack.

3) To frost the cookies, scoop a third of the frosting into a small bowl. Melt in the microwave for 30 seconds. The frosting should become soupy and no longer thick and clumpy. Carefully dip the top of the cookie into the melted frosting. Hold over bowl for a couple of seconds to allow extra drippings to fall back in the bowl. Place cookie on wax paper and allow frosting to cool and harden. Add either  food coloring to melted frosting until desired color is reached. Sometimes reheating the frosting will enhance the color. Repeat the dipping  I process. If you would like to add sprinkles be sure to do so before the frosting cools and hardens.

Source: Cookies adapted from Annie’s Eats

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Big Kahuna Burger Cookies for Pulp Fiction

“Mm mm! This is a tasty burger”

My favorite characteristic of Quentin Tarantino’s writing is his concentration on detail. The dialogue of his characters may seem at times trivial and unnecessary to the plot, but it’s all laid out with thoughtful purpose. He can create a scene wrought with tension and suspense while having the characters only discuss a cheeseburger. A tasty burger, that is. Mr. Tarantino has taught me a lot about character development. Sometimes it’s not about what’s being said, but maybe why it’s being said or what’s not being said at all. His craft of laying the tone is precise every time. Whether you like the tone or not is a matter of opinion, but you definitely feel it.

Pulp Fiction won several awards the year it premiered, but ultimately lost the Best Picture Oscar to a chocolate running fool in love with Jenny. Actually, that year was a pretty tough category and still contested by movie buffs to this day. But another year is more bitterly recalled in my apartment. Sigh. Let’s just not get into it for everyone’s sake.

Pulp Fiction is a story dripping with violence but is also about redemption. All of the story lines contain surprises and take you on unexpected journeys, including the screenplay format. It’s always fun to see how Mr. Tarantino will weave his characters together. And Pulp Fiction may be his best.

And maybe his tastiest (sorry)!

Let’s bake a movie…

Big Kahuna Burger Cookies

Vanilla cake cookie “buns” stacked with chocolate brownie “patties”, Starburst “cheese”, and strawberry jam “ketchup”

The most classic scene from the movie begins with a bite of a burger and ends with “divine intervention”. I can’t tell you if a miracle stopped those bullets, but I can say that this is a tasty burger cookie. There is so much texture and flavor flowing over your tongue and into your belly. Each component would be delicious on its own but squished together as a sandwich equals taste buds/mind blown.

Before I created the burger, I went to the internets to see if anything similar had been created by others. I saw several fun examples, but I was pretty disappointed to see that they all used prepackaged foods. I knew I could make this less semi-homemade and more delicious. I wanted a cookie for the bun that would be just as fluffy as the real thing. I immediately thought of a MoonPie. Yum! But, what kind of cookie could look like meat? Doesn’t sound all that appealing, but brownies sort of crackle on top and resemble cooked ground beef (please don’t think about this while eating). Brownie cookie! And then the cheese and ketchup trick I had previously learned from the creative people at Hello Cupcake. Done. Burger cookie.

INGREDIENTS

For the “Pattie”:
2 2/3 cups (16 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the “Bun”:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Âľ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 ÂĽ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
Âľ tsp. baking powder
½ cup milk, room temperature

For the “Cheese”:
12 orange or lemon Starbursts

For the “Ketchup”:
Very red Strawberry or raspberry jam

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

1) For the “patties”, place a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the butter and chopped bittersweet chocolate in the bowl until completely melted and smooth. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until combined. Add the vanilla. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture and stir till combined. Incorporate the dry ingredients by carefully folding them into the batter. Once all the flour is incorporated stir in the mini chocolate chips. Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon place 1 ½ tbsp of dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating trays halfway through. When cookies are firm on the outside remove from the oven and leave on sheets to cool completely.

2) For the “buns”, increase over to 375° F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy (2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time until each are completely incorporated. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat each addition until just incorporated. Transfer half the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a wide round tip. To create the bottom bun, pipe batter in a flat circle large enough to support the brownie patty onto a baking sheet. For the top bun, use a small cookie scooper to scoop 2 tbsp. of batter onto baking sheet. To smooth the tops of the cookies dip a spoon in water and run the back along the “bun” eliminating the creases and lumps. Bake for 8-10 minutes (watching carefully so as not to brown the buns). Transfer to a wire rake to cool completely. Repeat with any leftover batter.

3) For the “cheese”, unwrap Starburst candy. Heat in the microwave for 5 seconds, until just softened but not melted. Flatten candy with either a rolling pin or the back of a spoon. I found it easiest to work with one candy at a time.

4) For the “ketchup”, strain the jam through a fine mesh strainer, using a spatula to work it through and collect in a small bowl.

5) Assembly: Drop a small dab of jam ketchup onto the center of a flat bun and then place the brownie patty directly over. Lay flattened Starburst on top of patty and a larger dollop of jam ketchup. Top with the round bun.

Source: Brownie Patties from Brown Eyed Baker; Buns adapted by Annie’s Eats