It was bound to happen, and one day it did. Too much Netflix one day and no internet the next, too close to Christmas, a shiny red toy, and so … this may or may not have happened in my kitchen.
A Christmas Tradition
Nowadays, easing up on sugar and carbs is the trend, but it’s not easy to give up on a lifetime of tradition, especially when we are talking Christmas cookies. Even though the dogs and I will be home for Christmas, alone thanks to Covid, I still wanted a few cookies and maybe some muffins for grazing while in my pajamas after the minute or three it might take me to open gifts.
My hand mixer has been faithful to me for more years than I can count, but sometimes she is slow to get started. Sort of like my hands’ ability to bend all the fingers at the same time or to open a jar of pickles. So when a friend offered to let me use her “spare” Kitchenaid stand mixer, I took her up on it. After all, I had jumped on the bandwagon carrying juicers, InstaPots, crock pots, bread machines, ice-cream maker things, George Foreman grills, Nutri-Bullets, Xpress sandwich makers, coffee frother things, and other gadgets I don’t even remember.
Kitchenaid Mixer, Anyone?
Oooh, a red Kitchenaid mixer! With a lifter feature that holds a 6 quart glass bowl. A heavy-when-it’s-empty 6 quart glass bowl, that is even heavier when it is filled with batter for 3 loaves of zucchini bread and even heavier yet with cookie dough for a few dozen cookies. And that lifter thing; turn the knob and the bowl raises and lowers. The head or neck that holds the beater paddle thing does not lift. So you get to lower the full bowl and disengage the whipper tool into the full bowl before disengaging the lifting studs and trying to not drop the contents while sliding it out of its nest so you can remove the thingy that mixes (or overmixes, as the case may be) your batter.
Well. I knew the fun was a marketing ploy as soon I started creaming my sugar and shortening. The paddle thing didn’t quite reach to the edge of the bowl, so I had to stop and lower the bowl regularly and use a hand-held spatula to push the mixture back into the middle. I saw on The Great British Bake Off someone who offered the tip to make sure to cream the sugar and shortening “enough.” Apparently, not creaming it enough is the cause of flat cookies and cakes. They turn it on and walk away even. So I let it do its thing.
Good Intentions Gone Awry
I had never had such creamy-looking shortening. So creamy the egg didn’t really want to incorporate, so I had to leave that on a little longer. Eventually, I got to the part when I had all the liquids in and was ready to add the 4 cups of flour.
Except in this wonderful red Pro 600 Kitchenaid, there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver, and there is no splash guard. I might have gotten a little flour dust all over my apron, the counter, windowsill, floor, and sink. The dough was still very creamy looking, and I surmised I had spilled too much flour, so I added some more. Just a little; I didn’t want cookies that looked or tasted like rocks.
I gave up on the flour and decided my still-wet dough was what it was and it wasn’t going to change. Before I tossed it, though, I would bake one pan and see how they turned out. The consistency was a bit like funnel cake batter at the fair, so I decided to try using a cookie press. Actually, it was a frosting thing, but I had to use what I had on hand.
In case you are wondering, I have made these biscochitos for at least 35 years, with the same recipe. The dough has NEVER looked like this, nor felt like this sticky mess.
These quarter-sized blobs didn’t taste bad, but it was more than a chore to dispense them onto the cookie sheet.
Plan B. I would roll them in balls and let them spread out in the oven. Too sticky, couldn’t get it off my hands.
Plan C was to drop dough by spoonful. Better, but very large!
Plan D was to use the frosting/cookie press again, this time without the tip on it, so I could get a large blob.
Plan E was when I adjusted the size of the blob coming out of the press tube thing.
Plan F was when I remembered I had these Frozen II cookie squashers that leave snowflake impressions on the cookie.
I eventually got a few dozen cookies that crumble in your hands if you aren’t careful, but they melt in your mouth and taste decent. They look more like sand dollars than snowflakes, though. Paul Hollywood would be disappointed that I couldn’t make them consistent in size, but hey! I was glad to not have to throw away the full batch. Luckily, I’m not trying to win Star Baker this week.
1. A red Kitchenaid isn’t necessarily better than any other mixer.
2. Even a stand mixer doesn’t have a programmable computer chip. While it does free up both hands, you still have to turn it off and on, adjust the speed, and pay attention.
3. Not having to hold a hand mixer is a joy. My wrist is still happy a day later.
3. A large glass bowl that is larger than you need and looks pretty doesn’t help the outcome. A smaller, stainless steel bowl would probably be just fine.
4. A $300-$400 stand mixer is not in my future. And even if my friend wanted to give me a sweet deal on this one, I’ll pass.
5. A cookie that looks wonky can still taste delicious.
6. When you have been watching too much Netflix and decide to stand for several hours, wear shoes! Your ankles and heels with thank you.
While I still have her here…
I now have 4 large muffins and 2 medium loaves of zucchini bread in my freezer, along with about 4 dozen bicochitos that are as large a drink coaster. I’ll give some away, and the rest I will take out a few at a time for the next month. I don’t want my taste buds to get bored, though, so I might try a batch of cranberry-pistachhio biscotti. I know for a fact I can handle good ol’ chocolate chip cookies with my hand mixer, but I am feeling challenged to find a redeemable quality to that cute red mixer on my counter.
What’s your story?
Have you had a surprising outcome when using a new appliance, or even a new recipe? Please share your story!