Saturday, August 8, 2009

Daring Adventurers eat Lemon Bars and Peanut-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Buttons

Okay, so first I would like to say...I've been lazy. I should have posted this yesterday, which is when I made these. In fact, I was so determined to have some baked goods on Friday's Dungeons and Dragons meeting (Hurrah for nerd pride) that I dragged my ass out of bed at 7AM during my summer vacation (I'm still a student so this is a big deal--I've been sleeping on a nocturnal schedule since class got out, 8AM-5PM) so I could catch a ride to the supermarket and pick up all the ingredients I would need, But due to this eight-to-five sleeping schedule, by the time I got home from the meet at 9PM I was exhausted. Not to mention it was a particularly bad time of month for me to be standing upright, if you get my drift. But anyway, point is by the time I got home and was actually free to write, I was too tired to do anything besides eat a little rice porridge and then pass out on the downstairs couch. Which is why I'm writing this now, at 7 in the morning.

Anyway, here's what I made for my fellow adventurers: Bakerella's Lemon Bars and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Buttons featured on Elissa's blog 17 and Baking. You can find the recipes on their respective sites.

I started with the lemon bars, because they needed time to chill before cutting into squares. I wish I could say mine came out every bit as nice as Bakerella's, but there were all sorts of problems...the least of them being that I had never juiced a lemon before in my life. The lemon bar recipe called for 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and since I had no clue how many lemons I would need to get my 1/2 cup of juice, I turned to my infallible information source: the Internet. According to the Internet, 6-8 lemons would provide 1 cup of juice. So therefore I needed 3-4 lemons. I bought four just in case, took them home, rinsed them, rolled them on the counter to break the little segments of pulp and release the juice inside the lemon.

Now, here is where things start to go wrong. Sometime between my reading the recipe and the actual juicing of the lemons, "1/2" managed to translate to "1". Can you imagine what ensued? I squeezed, wrung, and stabbed those poor lemon halves in vain trying to get the juice level to reach the "1 cup" mark on my mother's Pyrex measuring cup. Needless to say, the best those 4 lemons could do was 3/4 of a cup of juice. In retrospect, this was not a problem, as it was was a quarter cup more than I needed, but this didn't occur to me at the time of the juicing.

A bigger frusturation (at the time) were the seeds. The first lemon I juiced had no seeds, so imagine my surprised when I squeezed the second lemon halves and "plop plop plop" the seeds went, into my lemon juice! Indeed, half the time I spent juicing the lemons was spent fishing the seeds out of the nearly opaque juice...I splashed up lemon juice all over the counter and nearly got some in my eye. A seed popped out and bounced off my thigh. There are lemon gods, and they are having a good laugh at my expense.

My lemon issues aside, the other problem I had was greasing and dusting the pan for the bars. Half of this is due to my inability to read a recipe. I used a glass 9x13 pan like the recipe suggested and greased it thoroughly with a stick of butter, but I managed to dust it with powdered sugar instead of flour like I was supposed to. OOPS. I actually didn't realize this misstep until just now, but it was obvious I'd messed up somewhere when I had to pry the bars from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. The finished pieces were messy and lopsided due to my inadequacy at cutting things into even pieces. I have been outdone by Bakerella's Little Helper, who is probably half my age.

Still, even with those mistakes, they came out a delicious, gooey bright yellow. Both my parents rejected them--"Too sweet", they said. But having the sweet tooth that I do, I consumed it by the mouthful. I was surprised by how strong the lemon taste was (undoubtedly this is partially because I used more lemon juice than I should have), and there was a tartness to it even while being teeth-achingly sweet. In other words, I loved it.

The topping has a tendency to ooze out from underneath the baked surface in a way that makes me want to poke it and lick it off my fingers. By the way, this is a good snack to make if you plan on doing any kissing later...its almost complete lack of dairy (save for the butter) and citrusy flavor means your mouth will taste like lemonade.

The peanut butter and chocolate chip buttons were more popular. I got to my boyfriend's house early for the meeting and promptly dozed the time I woke up the Boyfriend and my friend M had managed to eat their way through about half of the 100 cookies I'd brought. Never underestimate the appetite (or metabolism) of a two teenage boys.

As Elissa recounted, baking the entire batch of cookie dough in one go is mind-numbing work. 15 dozen teeny tiny cookies took me two hours to shape, roll in sugar, and press a chocolate chip in each one. Plus, you have to poke the chocolate chip in quick right after the tray of cookies come out of the oven, before they harden too much and crumble when you try to push the chip in. I had a chip in each hand and was trying to push them neatly into the center of each cookie as fast as possible, and it felt like a ridiculous video game. I finished all 15 dozen cookies, though, and it was worth it. They were incredibly soft and peanutbuttery--they would be, what with the half a jar of peanut butter I emptied into it. I pity any peanut allergist who won't be able to try these. Even my dad liked them, and he is an extremely picky person, especially when it comes to eating (he fancies himself a gourmet). So these were a huge success.

Clearly mine are not as pretty as Elissa's. The chocolate chip of the uppermost cookie in the foreground is slightly smooshed because I dropped it on the hot cookie sheet while transferring the cookies to a wire rack. And I think I need to obtain some bigger sugar crystals to roll the cookie dough in...but this is the first time I've ever made cookies from scratch and had them come out well, so I am beyond satisfied. I pat myself on the back.

And what became of our brave and daring adventuring group? Well unfortunately one of our number, N, couldn't make it, and our journey had to be postponed. So instead we ate cookies, drank iced tea, and watched Sleepy Hollow. And I had a tiny fangirl moment over young Johnny Depp, who was very attractive indeed in his colonial getup. Much to the disgruntlement of the Boyfriend. He knows I love him best, though. (are my pronouns confusing you yet?)

All in all, it was a most wonderful day.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Yumi, the PB cookies look delicious! And I'm so impressed that you did the entire batch in one go... clearly you've got more patience than me but it looks like it paid off :) The lemon bars also look great. I've got a massive sweet tooth too so I would probably love them. Congrats on your first good cookies from scratch... I bet there's a lot more to come!