Sunday, May 2, 2010

Communist free baked goods

I'm still alive! I suck, but I'm alive! Unfortunately I will continue my streak as World's Worst Blogger a little longer-- Joe and I just finished moving out of our apartment and are now driving across the country back to Alaska. So there won't be any blogging while Joe and I drive through Canada, unless you're interested in some delicious lichen pie.

Side note: I find lichen jokes hilarious. (For the lichen naive-- poor souls-- think teeny bits of moss that grows in the tundra.) I have fond memories of working at the candy store during Christmas eve where I wore festive reindeer antlers attached to a headband. I was high on Christmas spirit and gummi bears and expressed this by pretending the antlers were transforming me into a reindeer. I would casually mention to my coworkers that I had a hankering for some lichen and pranced about in a way I imagined reindeer would.

So to answer the question: how do you survive serving crazy customers all day? BE CRAZIER THAN THEY ARE.

So anyway. Approximately nine million years ago I made some gluten free baked goods for my nurse preceptor. Basically she taught me how to do her job recovering kids from anesthesia after surgery and then made sure I didn't kill anybody, to which I was very grateful.

I always wanted to bring in baked goods for my coworkers but it felt cruel to bring in cookies or cake that my mentor couldn't eat. Thanks for all your help, here are some delicious baked goods that you are incapable of digesting! So for my last day I decided to bring in gluten-free treats.

Sprinkles: fighting communism since... 19...whatsit.

My first plan was to buy some gluten-free flour and attempt to use a gluten-free recipe. Then I caught Joe's Flu of Death and the thought of moving from the apartment made me want to die. So I had to improvise and make 'accidentally gluten-free' baked goods with ingredients I had on hand. The first thing that came to mind were meringues. Egg whites and sugar. Bake. Viola. Except you should probably whip them first, okay? I did two batches: vanilla and chocolate.

I used a pipping bag for the first time for shaping the meringues and they turned out very pretty. The chocolate ones didn't hold their shape and instead turned into marbled discs but it sort of appeared that I did that on purpose so... win!

Meringue Cookies Recipe:

3 large egg whites (3 ounces or 90 grams)


tsp cream of tartar

3/4 cup (150 grams) superfine or caster sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30 seconds in a food processor) --- I used "regular" sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (105 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can form the cookies with a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip, or I often just use two spoons to make the cookies.

In the bowl of your mixer

, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.

Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) tip. Pipe 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) rounds of meringue in rows on the prepared baking sheet. Alternatively, spoon mounds of meringue, using two spoons, onto the prepared sheets. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a few shaved almonds, if desired.

Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying overnight.

I loved the way these tasted, I used homemade vanilla extract in the vanilla meringues and it made a huge difference. The cocoa ones were not as delicious perhaps but regardless I kept finding myself munching on them. I could not put my finger on what they tasted like until it dawned on me that they taste like Cocoa Puffs. Which is not a bad thing at all, who doesn't secretly like Cocoa Puffs? Communists, that's who.

Maybe its the eight hours of driving a day but I'm finding communist jokes HILARIOUS right now.

Since meringues are so easy, I felt obligated to make something else. I remembered making a peanut butter cookie recipe a few years ago that consisted only of peanut butter, eggs and sugar. That's it. They're a bit weird but they work-- they're a bit more like a crisp peanut butter candy but again, does that not sound delicious? I modified the recipe a bit and though they came out a little ugly and I was ashamed of their ugliness, my mentor LOVED them. These would not be my go to peanut butter cookie recipe but it's a good one to have in your baking arsenal: tasty, freakishly easy, and intensely peanut buttery. Who wouldn't like that? COMMUNISTS.

1-2-3 PB cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup plain sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix peanut butter, sugars, and egg together in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until combined. After all the ingredients have been combined, roll the peanut butter mixture into 1 inch balls.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down with a fork. Once the oven has pre-heated, put the cookies in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.


In the end, my mentor loved everything. Or she is a very good liar. She also ended up bringing me home baked peanut butter cookies on the same day, which I thought was very cute. They were tasty, which is saying something since I still had the Flu of Death and anything other than Gatorade made me dry heave in a corner.

In an awkward conclusion, love you Nancy!

Still navigating through the Canadian arctic/cities/highways, back soon with some lichen pie!