Write Team: Setting out on a Cooking Baking Adventure

What is your favorite homemade cookie?

Is it a traditional cookie, such as chocolate chip or peanut butter? Would you choose cutouts or oatmeal raisin? Perhaps your family has a secret recipe that wins blue ribbons at the county fair and is a must-have at reunions?

This summer, my oldest granddaughter and I set out on a Cookie Baking Adventure. For seven weeks (we took a week off while on vacation), we baked 12 favorite and new-to-us recipes.

Baking competitions are on television all the time. Amateurs and professionals compete for prizes and bragging rights their food is the best.

We decided to stage our own amateur competition to find the best cookie recipes. Going through cookbooks, we selected two recipes each week. Some had to include ingredients and baking tools we hadn’t used often. Selections included bar cookies as well as drop and rolled cookies.

We created a ranking system; 1 to 5 in three categories: taste, appearance and difficulty. Stocked up with supplies, we washed our hands and got out the mixer and rolling pin.

Wednesday was designated as baking day. Papa and big brother also were taste testers, but the two of us voted in the difficulty category. We sent cookies home for their parents each week and still had more than enough to last us until the following week.

Adjustments were made as needed. The end of July temperatures were in the upper 90s, which made it too hot to have on the oven for hours, so we chose an old-fashioned chocolate layered icebox dessert instead. It was refreshing and delicious. A few days before our Wisconsin vacation, we baked family favorite snickerdoodles and chocolate chip. No need to rank them because we already knew how good those cookies are.

We added a few fun projects. The Prairie Fox Bookstore in Ottawa hosted a “Christmas in July” cookie contest, and we baked candy cane cookies. Even though we did not win, we were still glad to participate.

We had a guest baker one week when my granddaughter invited a friend to join us. I sewed matching aprons for them, and while the cookies cooled, they played a little one-on-one basketball in the driveway. Bakers can play ball, too.

Some recipes we expected to taste great didn’t turn out as anticipated. The lemon drop cookies sounded summery, and although it was fun to smash the candies in a baggie with a hammer, the finished cookies were dry. If we make toffee chip thins again, we would increase the toffee bits and decrease the chocolate chips.

My granddaughter is quite good at measuring and mixing, and she loves cracking eggs. Cleaning up is part of the process and went smoothly. All in all, we both learned a lot and worked well together.

Our favorite new recipes were the first and last ones we tried. Molasses oat and peanut butter cup cookies definitely will get made again.

At the end of summer, I asked what her favorite thing was about our Baking Adventure. She said, “spending time together.” Followed by, “eating all the cookies.” Kids grow up so fast, and I will take all the time I can get with this seventh grader. We already are looking forward to all the holiday baking coming up.

Look out, “Cake Boss” and “Be Our Chef,” because we are not the “Worst Bakers in America.”

Karen Roth is a semiretired librarian/educator living in Ottawa. She can be reached at dbarichello@shawmedia.com.