Every year we take one day to make just Christmas cookies. It’s crazy, it makes a huge mess, and sometime we end up with cookies that aren’t quite right, but it’s always fun and we enjoy eating the end results even if they aren’t perfect. And with eight of us in our family, they don’t last long! (We do share the cookies with neighbors, friends, and family if we can.) The imperfect cookies happened to us this year since every cookie we baked was a new recipe for us.
This year, we made Chocolate No Bakes, French-Style Lemon Bars, Blueberry Jammers, Jam Thumbprints, Christmas Spice Cookies, and Peppermint Bark (which is candy and not a cookie but I mention it because I actually messed up the peppermint bark). I will attempt to link a recipe to every cookie if possible, but sometimes they just aren’t up on the Internet. I will mention the cookbook that they came from though.
Coming off the success of the Lemon and Sugar Free Lemon Sorbets I made a week ago, I have been thinking of other fruits to make sorbet with. Sorbet is so easy that it can be made quickly with little prep time.
After having family over for dinner we had some leftover watermelon. I knew I had to use it for sorbet.
I had never juiced watermelon before. It seemed to me the easiest way would be to chop it into pieces, and then toss it in a blender. This watermelon didn’t have many seeds, but I did remove them before putting in the blender. I wouldn’t want seed bits to get into my sorbet.
I ran the blender on the “liquefy” setting until I thought all the chunks were broken up. To be safe, I ran the juice through a strainer, however, that was basically unnecessary. There was very little solids left over and they would probably have been fine in the sorbet.
I had around 2.5 cups of juice, so I adjusted my recipe accordingly. This is a forgiving recipe to make so it can be adjusted easily to make more or less.
As with the other sorbets I have made, I first made the simple syrup. Place the water and sugar in a small pot. Over medium heat, boil until the sugar dissolves. How long this takes depends on how much you are making. Once the sugar is fully incorporated into the water, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool.
After the simple syrup finished cooling, I mixed the watermelon juice into the syrup. I put the juice mixture into the refrigerator to get cold. This is something I did to help ice cream freeze better, but I don’t think it is really necessary with the sorbet. I just do it out of habit.
Then the juice mixture goes into an ice cream maker, and is churned according to manufacture directions. It will end up a bit loose and soft even when fully churned.
Place the churned sorbet into a freezer until fully frozen.
This is a really sweet sorbet. Watermelon is rather sweet on its own, and the addition of all the sugar adds to the sweetness. If you have a raging sweet tooth like I do, then you will like this one.
I did learn quite a few things though, even though I’ve baked these many times! Just not in this quantity.
This big bucket of cookie dough made 199 chocolate chip cookies. Before baking, each ball of dough weighed about 30 grams.
My first two trays of cookies did NOT turn out right at all. Usually, I bake one tray at a time but that just was not an option today with baking so many. So my first four trays were spent trying to figure out timing and when the cookies were baked through. I was also using the convection setting on my oven for the second time so I was figuring that out as well. I thought about trying two trays on the normal bake setting, but anytime I have tried that with these cookies, they definitely do not turn out right! Who knew chocolate chip cookies could be so complicated? Or maybe I am just overly picky…
Finally, I hit upon the magic number and method. Convection bake at 335 degrees F for 5 minutes. Then, switch the cookie sheets on their racks and bake for another 5 minutes. So the cookie sheet on the lower rack went on the top rack for the last 5 minutes and vice versa. I don’t think you’re supposed to have to do that with a convection oven but I was desperate to get these cookies baked without much more messing around. The cookies browned a little more than they usually do on a normal bake but at least they weren’t uncooked in the middle, which was the problem with the first two trays.
My second issue with these cookies: The chocolate chips! They seemed overly large for the size cookies I was baking. I know it seems impossible but it was almost like the cookies had too much chocolate in them. Yes, I know what you are thinking. You must be crazy, Lynn. How can a chocolate chip cookie have too much chocolate? And I completely agree. I’m probably just being picky again.
Right at the end of the bake, I had one of those “British Bake-off” mess-ups, when a baker pulls a cookie sheet out of the oven and some of the baked goods slide off the parchment paper and onto the floor or into the oven. Yep, that happened to me. Four of my half-baked cookies went splat. It was very sad. And messy. It wasn’t an end-of-the-world sacrifice though. I had the 150 cookies I needed for the fellowship tonight.
I was not happy with the cookies in the picture above. They were way too gooey in the middle. So I guess those are for us to eat. I don’t think any of my family will be complaining about this.
I set up a cooling rack and packaging station on our dining room table. I ended up needing 3 of the disposable pans for 150 cookies.
My scooping area was in the kitchen on a gateleg IKEA table that we use as a counter/storage space.
Here are all the cookies baked. And yes, my house still smells like chocolate chip cookies! Yum!
This concludes this portion of Crazy Baking Days. Thanks so much for reading! And if I end up doing something crazy like this again, there will definitely be a Crazy Baking Day #4!