Sunday, July 9, 2017

Shockingly Simple Sweets

I'm an efficient person--organized, put together, "on the ball," you might say, so what I'm about to admit might come as a bit of a shock. I'm also extremely lazy. Like, I don't even waste the energy to turn my socks right-side-out before wearing them lazy. So lazy that even the mere idea of having to get off my couch and do anything on the weekend makes me a little grumpy. I've spent decades somehow calculating a way to live my life to maximize my productivity while also maintaining my optimum level of laziness. My credo most certainly is to work smarter and not harder. I'm the human version of a cat in a sunny spot--I can't be bothered with much unless movement ends in food or praise of some sort. Needless to say, after the harrowing adventure that was mirror glazing my husband's birthday cake, I wanted to make a dessert for a 4th of July cookout that was child's play to put together but still looked like a million bucks (I also follow this same pattern when it comes to hair and makeup--efficient, I tell you). I'm going to let you in on a great baking secret--you can throw together cookies that are so soft and stay so fresh forever in 30 minutes from start to finish. And that includes decoration! Because everything should be topped with a layer of chocolate and sprinkles. My friends, let me show you the path of least resistance--the lazy cake mix cookie.
The patriotic edition!
I know, usually my 4th of July creations range anywhere from extremely American to Abe Lincoln riding a bear level of patriotism, see: American flag cakes, American flag cake pops, and tie-dye American flag berry cakes. But these cookies are fun, festive, and so, so low in calories. At only 80 calories a cookie (for a total of 40 cookies), you can shove fistfuls into your mouth like the true American you are. Now, if you're an extreme American, I expect you'd dye these red and blue and top with white chocolate glaze and star sprinkles all year round. Otherwise, you can literally make these cake mix cookies with any flavor of cake mix and/or gel dye to achieve whatever coloring you'd like. The hardest part about these cake mix cookies is figuring out what flavor you want to eat.
Which, in all fairness, is a great problem to have.
I just so happened to have half a box of vanilla and half a box of strawberry cake mix leftover from said mirror glazed galaxy swirl cake from my husband's birthday. I told you--lazy, but systematically so. You can make the 40 cookies with a full box of cake mix and the combined amount of eggs and butter below if you're not trying to clean out your pantry. But here's how I made my red and blue cookies:
  • 1/2 box vanilla cake mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • Blue gel dye
  • 1/2 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • Red gel dye
  • 1/2 an 8 ounce bag of white chocolate melts
  • Star sprinkles and white sanding sugar
 Preheat your oven to 350. Mix the melted butter, egg, and white cake mix together for 2 minutes. Add several drops of blue food color to achieve a nice hue. **You must, must let this mix rest for about 10 minutes.** This allows the dough to firm up a bit so it is easier to handle and shape the cookies. Use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon and scoop out 20 balls of dough. I spray my 1/2 tablespoon with cooking spray to help release them, and then give a quick swirl in my hands to round them out and flatten them a bit:
Like so.
Load up a cookie sheet with your rounds, and bake them for 10 minutes, tops. These cookies will be soft, but shouldn't look shiny when they're cooked through. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.
Temptation to eat raw cake batter at an all time high.
For my strawberry cookies, I followed the same process: mix butter, egg, and cake mix for 2 minutes, add red gel dye, mix, and let rest for 10. Scoop, shape, flatten, and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack.
Your house will smell friggin' wonderful.
Like a cloud of vanilla topped with fresh strawberries.
It has taken me three years, but I've finally used the 10 tubes of star sprinkles I bought at Hobby Lobby (impulse buy gone sort of okay).
 Oh yes, remember last week when I told you I bought my weight in chocolate melts? Well, surprise, surprise, I also used chocolate melts to give my cookies an extra kick of sugary deliciousness. Melt half a bag of chocolate melts in a microwavable bowl for 30 seconds at a time on 50% power, stirring after each time until smooth. Prepare a piping bag with a small round tip. I used a Wilton #3 tip. You can also just get a plastic baggy ready and snip a corner; same thing, but even more efficiently lazy because you don't have to do any dishes to clean it up!
Tricks of the trade.
I always put my prepared piping bag in a glass and fold the plastic over the edges--easiest way to load up frosting and chocolate melts. Pour the melts into your bag and then let them cool for 2-3 minutes. Use this time to put Parchment paper down and place your cooling racks on top of this. Space your cookies out, and then grab the piping bag.
And get messssyyyy.
 There's no wrong way to do this, so with a ton of gusto, I drizzled my piping bag of chocolate melts back and forth over all my cookies. Work quickly; while the chocolate is still wet, you then need to add whatever sprinkles you want on top of your cookies so they will stick.
There will be chocolate everywhere. So don't forget the Parchment paper, or you're gonna go from lazy clean up to "I'm going to find sprinkles and chocolate in my kitchen until 4th of July 2030."

Which may still be worth it.

Because these cookies are soooooo gooooood. You might think 40 cookies are a lot of cookies. You may not be wrong. But when you bring 40 cookies to a 4th of July cookout, they reduce in number drastically faster than you can say, "Hold my beer and watch this," before shooting your best friend with a Roman Candle (accidentally, of course). I love that these cookies are so simple to make and taste like a cross between a cookie and a cupcake. They're soft, and they definitely melt on your tongue. I'm tempted to throw in M&M's or Reese's Pieces to chocolate cake mix cookies the next time I whip up a batch. The possibilities are endless--but they're also incredibly easy. Welcome to my world. A world where you look like you clearly know how to adult, but you really just excel at corner cutting. It's a great time to be alive and lazy, people. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
As easy to make as they are to eat--that's how I roll.

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