That's a word that doesn't exist in my vocabulary when people ask me for favors or if someone's asking me to help. Not that it's voluntary. There are so many times when I've been asked to help with something I have no intention or interest in and I don't know how to say "No". In my mind, I'm flailing my arms in the air and yelling, "no way in hell am I doing that", but in reality, I'm standing there with the biggest encouraging smile on my face eagerly agreeing to help.
And when I'm faced with the really pushy and persuasive people, even the tiny defense I'm able to muster up gets reduced to the level of crumbs under our table that my puppy destroys in a matter of nano-seconds.
So, after that, I'm left muttering and grumbling to myself, spending days wanting to hide under my bed just so I don't have to do whatever I've been asked to do.
Does that ever happen to you?
And then there are times when I willfully undertake something I know I will make a mess of because I don't think things through in my excitement. The party my thoughts are having in my head drown out the voice of reason meekly trying to make some sense.
That is exactly what happened when I decided to take part in Baker Bettie's Cookie Wars 2012. I looked at it for weeks on end, debating whether I could come up with a cookie recipe that would cream (pun intended) the competition. Till the day before the deadline. When something possessed me to finally want to make a cookie for the competition. That's right, come up with an original cookie recipe in a day! I think I need to have a sit-down with my brain later.
Anyway, after wasting another bunch of hours hyperventilating and being paralyzed by fear, I finally was able to start conceptualizing the cookie the day of the deadline. I got my act together and told myself to just have fun and not make a cookie to win. And that's what I did.
It was a very narrow shave because by the time I was done with creating, baking, writing, taking photos and finally ready to send my entry in, there was just about an hour to go for the deadline.
I clicked 'Send' and then spent the next week nervously chomping on all the cookies, waiting for the results. I know I told myself that I was just doing it for fun, but, who am I kidding. When you enter something like this, even if you know you won't win, you still excitedly wait for the results, right? It's like doing badly in your exams and you know you're going to fail, but you still anxiously wait for your results with hopes of scraping through.
And let me tell you. Normally things usually happen as I expect but this time...yes, THIS time, things happened the way I 'hoped'. Some pixie sprinkled fairy dust on my cookies and magically transformed them into prize-winning cookies because I won third place! My heart skipped a whole bunch of beats as I squealed in delight when I saw the results.
You should all go check the results post because Kristin from Baker Bettie put up pictures of all the entries. There were 21 ah-mazing cookies, people. Twenty-one! And all so scrumptious looking. Do you want to know what's even more incredible? Kristin and team actually baked ALL twenty-one...yes, ALL...for the taste-testing. I was shell-shocked that they did that as opposed to just judging the cookies. It blew my mind.
So, without further ado, here's the recipe that won me third place! Warning: sugar rush ahead!
Fruit & Nut Chocolate Cookie Sandwich
Ingredients and instructions:
For the cookie
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 stick salted butter (add a pinch of salt if you use unsalted butter)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
For the filling
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Prepare the cookie first: Preheat oven to 350degF.
Combine cocoa powder, flour and salt. Sift together and set aside in a bowl.
With an electric beater or a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. The mixture will look like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and vanilla extract, one by one, and beat well after each addition.
Add one third of the flour mixture and mix till combined. Repeat again with the remaining two thirds, in one third batches. Once your dough comes together, gently fold in the chocolate pieces. Gather your dough in a ball and place between two parchment sheets. Roll the dough out till it is 1/4 inch thick. Leave the parchment sheet on and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
When your dough is chilled, use a 2 inch round cutter to cut the dough into circles. Place these on your baking sheet, about an inch or more apart. Top half the cookies with chopped pecans and gently press them in a little.
Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, otherwise they will crumble. Completely cool them on a wired rack.
Let's get the filling ready: Bring a quarter cup of water to a boil. Add the dried cranberries and stir for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a few minutes. Puree in a mixer.
With your electric beater on the lowest speed, combine the butter and sugar. Add the yogurt and combine well. Measure a quarter cup of the cranberry puree and beat it in along with the yogurt mixture.
Assembling your cookie: Take a plain-sided cookie and pipe a tablespoon of filling on its inside. Top with a cookie topped with nuts. Eat till you encounter a sugar rush!