Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Mary Bilyeu

COMMENTARY

What to do when the cookie crumbles

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    Peanut Butter Blossom cookies.

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Cookies have their heyday at the holidays, of course. But that certainly doesn’t mean we’ll stop eating them now that it’s January.

So I don’t think it’s too late to offer some helpful advice, even though the big baking binge is behind us.

I heard from two different people, a few weeks ago, who were having cookie conundrums.

One woman had written: “I have baked 80 peanut blossom cookies. They inadvertently stayed out without being wrapped and they are hard as rocks.” She hoped they could be salvaged.

I grew up hearing about putting an apple slice in with stale cookies, with the baked goods leeching moisture from the fruit. But then they taste apple-y, and that didn’t really suit the peanut butter. So I suggested, instead, that she package them with a slice of soft bread, making sure that it didn’t touch the cookies or else some might get too mushy.

I was very happy to see the response after she tried it, thanking me and telling me, “You saved the day.” Makes a girl feel a bit like a superhero, huh?

But if this hadn’t worked, there were other ways to make good use of those cookies: Removing the chocolate Kisses for the next batch and crumbling up the dry rocks to stir into a new batch of complementary-flavored cookies, using them as an addition or substitution in seven-layer magic bars, sprinkling them as a crumble topping in a pie or pudding or trifle, or patting them onto the sides of a frosted cake or the top of a batch of cupcakes for garnish. Whew!

The other “Christmas cookie fail” was shortbread, which a friend told me had “[come] out a crumbly mess!” 

Although it's not traditional (and my Scottish and Irish grandmothers might be squirming in their graves as I type this), I sometimes add an egg to shortbread dough to help it hold together. But if it’s too late for that, then save the crumbs and use them in the same manners described above. Other options include incorporating them into a streusel topping or a granola or using them as part of a stuffing for baked apples.

N.B. from M.B.: Never give up, never surrender. There is almost always a way to save your bakes, somehow.

While we’re chatting, I’ve got a couple of non-cookie tips to share. It’s always good to offer them, just in case they’re needed.

One of my friends here at work was surprised to read a recipe, some time ago, in which I’d called for flipping over the bottom layer of a cake onto a serving platter before frosting it. This allows the domed top to smush against the flat plate, providing a level surface for frosting and for balancing the other layer dome-side up.

And here’s one last suggestion that I’ve recently offered to a friend: If the oven is already on to roast one chicken, why not roast two? Divide the meat into baggies or containers to freeze for soups or casseroles, so you have it already prepared. And you’ll also have extra chicken parts for making broth to freeze for later use.

Now that we’re in the midst of the sickness season (I personally spent a very Unhappy Flu Year over the holiday weekend), the ability to prepare hearty, homemade chicken soup almost instantaneously is a great boon.

Don’t underestimate its super powers any more than your own.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at 419-724-6155 or mbilyeu@theblade.com, and follow her at facebook.com/thebladefoodpage.

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