Monday, December 20, 2010

From Madame X to hard crack

I have been involved in a cookie marathon.  It really started Saturday with the making of the dough.  I didn't really participate much in that other than to wash up and clean up after the cookie dough was assembled.

Then, there was a break to go to a nice party across the river.  Mostly boat people were at this party--those who live on boats, have lived on boats, and have cruised boats.  And the boats were mostly sailboats. We exchanged stories and talked about engines, stuffing boxes, sails and decks.  The beach house where the party was held had an eclectic assortment of art, furniture, and rugs.  I was particularly captivated by a reproduction of John Singer Sargent's Portrait of Madame X.  It is one that has captivated me for years because the Madame reminds me of my mother, without the aquiline nose. 

So after that respite on Saturday evening, it was back to cookie/candy making yesterday.  We made peanut brittle first which required heating the ingredients to weld temperatures.  I was the stirrer and the candy thermometer holder, brave soul that I am.  C. just gave me orders to keep stirring which I did for fear of an explosion the size of Chernobyl in the bubbling cauldron.  Anyway, after what seemed like hours, the "hard crack" stage finally came at 305 F.  And then with little ado, the whole mess was spread out on a buttered marble slab to cool.  The result was spectacularly good.
So then we did some easy stuff with these little holly berry cookies.  I had a light weight job of dumping spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets.  They turned out to be really decorative and not too bad for being a sticky mess of marshmallows and corn flakes.

Next came the most challenging part of the marathon--baking and decorating dozens of sugar cookies. We chose mostly Christmas shapes from the old cookie cutters--stars, snowflakes, trees, holly, and crescent moon.  C. rolled the dough and cut out the cookies.  I moved them from the rolling table to the baking trays.  In the process, we made a spectacular mess.
 But the finished product turned out to be neat.  I was assigned to be the painter of the cookies. I hope that no one finds a thick bristle hair from the paint brushes thinking that it might be human or dog hair. I did my best to pick all those bristle hairs from the brushes off the cookies, I swear!  It has been a fun, but tiring couple of days.  All except for 2 dozen cookies are iced.  When I ran out of icing, I called for a time out.  I will make more blue and yellow icing for the snowflakes and the moons.  But for now, I am sated with decorating. 

Tonight is my home group meeting.  I will take some of the finished cookies there.

Lord, I have been a man slave for a couple of days.  I wonder whether Madame X ever iced a cookie, much less baked one.  I am sure that she probably never smeared her marble top dresser with butter and spread hard crack peanut goo on it.  Oh well.....I am sure she still had a good life in spite of these deficiencies.


  1. I was wondering what on earth you meant by hard crack... those cookies look very nice indeed. I don't think they'd pipe that well though

  2. I just gained 2 lbs consumming some of those cookies.they were great.

  3. You're the best husband ever!!!!

    Gosh that brittle looks good....makes me hungry. Those moments with C are the previous ones, Syd...but I know you know that!

  4. I never thought of using my marble dresser top! Thanks for the tip! haha

    Enjoy the rest of your holiday week. You are not alone. I am baking today and tomorrow and then making tamales for two days after that. It's tiring but I love it!

  5. I licked my monitor. I'm a sucker for icing. I have heirloom cookie cutters. Okay, I'm up for the challenge. Pictures to be posted soon. (I don't eat brittle but would make an exception for yours and Cs)


  6. hehe cool blog title :)

    well done putting in all that effort :)
    oh yes, the nut brittle looks super ! yummi. i mustn't look..


  7. Well, she did not do the chore in THAT velvet dress- I'll bet you that! What a good man you are! I used to make sugar cookies just like that except I used a pen-top to cut out holes in the tops to string embroidery thread to hang them from the Christmas tree. This was back when I was a good mother.
    They stayed surprisingly fresh on the tree except for one year when it was raining when I made them. They all dropped to the floor and all that work gone to naught.
    Between that memory and the dogs I do not dare to hang cookies on my tree these days.
    Someday I am going to make peanut brittle. I even have the marble to do it on. Yours looks lovely!

  8. wow...that is a lot of cookies...i would probably be in a coma from sampling...just saying...

  9. heaven is a place like yours i am sure. cookies and candies are so much fun, we will be making ours on wednesday and then my pies on thursday.

  10. This seems like Christmas past for me. Better you than me. Now we know how Santa got so big he visited your house.

  11. Wow, fancy fancy. That's some kick ass cooking making and decorating. Those sugar cookies rock. The brittle looks amazing. Very impressive.
    Funny to have found you. I see you often over at Bless Our Hearts. For some reason clicked today on your name. My aunt is always telling me to go to Alanon. Read your interview. Fantastic.

  12. yup I know someone who will just LOVE the idea of these 'mallow' cornflakes-

  13. The cookies are lovely. Iced sugar are my favorite. Good job, Syd.

    Happy holidays to you and C.!

  14. I would like to know how to make the holly cookies. It sounds like a lot of work to me to make the different cookies as well as peanut brittle. It sounds like you and C work well together.

  15. Oh yum. Pass the ice cold milk and I would be in cookie heaven.


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