Garbage Cookies and Gumdrops
Updated: Aug 1
My latest culinary adventure began with the best of intentions. I was organizing and culling my books in another attempt to elevate my life due to quarantine.
There was a candy making book slated for donation, a disappointing melange of semi-homemade recipes, utilizing ingredients such as canned frosting and packaged candy.
One recipe, however, caught my eye. It was for gumdrops. It called for only gelatin, sugar, water and flavoring. That would be a great thing to make with Remy and Rory, I thought, picturing how happy they would be rolling the beautiful jewel colored orbs in sparkly sugar.
Though the recipe looked easy, I didn't quite trust it. As a precaution, I decided to Google gumdrop recipes and compare.
One would think that the ads for diabetes medications that kept popping up during my search would have clued me in that this was not a good idea.
But nope. Seems like I'm the only fool I suffer easily.
The gumdrop recipes I found were similar to the one in the book, so I made sure I had the ingredients and put them aside for Remy and Rory's visit last week.
Having been quarantined from Laura's family for the past two months, we were thrilled to be together again. Because Kenton was beginning online training for a new job, the girls were scheduled to stay with me for the entire week.
The only wrench in the works was my foot. For weeks I had been battling an infection and was on a duo of heavy duty antibiotics. I had started to feel better, so spent much of last Saturday cooking in preparation for their visit.
By Saturday night my foot was swollen again, and I realized that it was not healing the way it should be. I would have to follow my doctor's advice and do an MRI.
Sunday's plans for kitchen fun with Remy and Rory went out the window. I was stuck in bed with my foot propped up.
Rory snuggled next to me and asked to watch YouTube videos. She is obsessed with the ones of kids playing in toy kitchens, or opening packages of toy food.
She was content for a while, but then started wailing because she saw an ice-cream cone and wanted one. Unfortunately, we had finished all of the ice-cream the night before.
"Come on, Rory. I'll get you a snack." Remy grabbed her hand and took her out of my room.
A few minutes later they were back, both holding cones filled with what looked like chocolate ice-cream.
"Where did you find that," I asked Remy?
"I scraped the fudgecicles from the freezer into the cones," said Remy with a chocolate smeared grin.
Damn, I thought. Not yet seven and she is ready to compete on Chopped.
Shortly thereafter, Rory said she was opening an ice-cream shop and Remy announced that she would be making sandwiches for our lunch.
"Can we have the potato chips," she asked? Remy is vigilant about checking the pantry as soon as she gets to my house.
"As long as you save a few handfuls," I told her. "I bought all of the ingredients for garbage cookies."
"Yes!" She carefully placed a few handfuls of kettle chips in a zip top bag. Not having enough chips to make garbage cookies, a family favorite, was not an option.
Like a little pro, she took everyone's order and not only made us sandwiches, but decoratively arranged them on the plate with pickles on the sides and potato chips on top. Uncle Sam supervised.
She then handed me my plate and said, "Take a picture of this and put it on your blog."
By the evening, my foot felt well enough to prop on a kitchen chair while the girls made the cookies.
Having made garbage cookies many times before, Remy and Rory were pros. This was the first time, however, that Rory cracked an egg.
I turned my head for a second and heard her announce, "I cracked the egg." Miraculously, she managed to not only crack the egg into the bowl, but there was only one small piece of shell in it. And here, I had thought watching YouTube videos of kids cracking toy eggs was a waste of time.
That was the end of Rory's contribution to our efforts. From that point on she stacked containers of popcorn and took apart cupcake liners while Remy got down to the cookies.
We call these garbage cookies because they are fantastically unhealthy. Made from a bag of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, we add crunched up kettle chips and caramel, butterscotch or peanut butter chips. The cookies are rolled into a ball, and then sandwiched between two mini pretzels.
I have watched grown people fight over these cookies, hide them from each other, and devour a whole batch in minutes. (Yes, cousin B.J., I'm talking about you.)
During a neighbors wedding, the pastor actually mentioned the cookies waiting for the guests after the service. Sommer had executed all of the decorations for the wedding, while dozens of cookies were part of the food I prepared. We will take any excuse to throw a party.
In keeping with her Chopped theme for the day, Remy decided that she wanted to bake some of the cookie dough in mini-muffin tins, and see what would happen.
While all of the cookies got eaten, the consensus was that the texture of traditional cookie shapes beat out mini-muffins.
And though I had had my heart set on making gumdrops with the girls, I knew it would have to wait for another day.
The MRI showed on Monday that my foot was fractured.
By early Tuesday morning I was wearing a boot on my foot and had the orthopedic doctor's permission to stand in the kitchen. Gumdrop time!
The girls were excited when I showed them the picture in the cookbook. Remy perused the flavorings on my baking shelf, and decided that we would do lemon, orange and strawberry, while using yellow, blue and red colors.
I lined and greased the small square pans the recipe called for, while Remy sprayed two silicone candy molds. She thought roses and hearts would be prettier than squares.
I bloomed the gelatin and added the sugar to a sauce pan, then read the next step. After adding the mixtures together, they needed to be boiled for 25 minutes.
Of course they did. We were talking about candy making here. Because I haven't made much candy in my life, I wasn't thinking about what it would mean to watch over boiling sugar for half an hour with a 3 and a 6 year old underfoot.
Obviously, I hadn't been thinking much at all. Remy and Rory were not pleased to be handed off to their uncles, banished from the kitchen, while I got to have all of the fun.
As I colored and flavored the boiling sugar mixture, my fractured foot berated me.
The next morning, Max took a look at the candies and announced, "They're ready."
Though the gumdrops looked like candy, they behaved like the gelatinous mass from the horror movie from my childhood, "The Blob."
The red and blue squares stuck to my hands, the table, the container and everything else that they came into contact with. They resisted being cut, and oozed into jiggly strands.
Remy had success removing the candies in the heart mold, but the roses remained stuck.
She decided, as she often does, to take matters into her own hands. Water, she thought, would do the trick.
Since water melts sugar, most of her roses and many of the hearts turned into a messy glob.
We persisted and turned a few candies into something we would actually want to eat, but then Rory took a bite.
"I don't like these," she said.
Remy and I laughed. She then hightailed it out of the kitchen, leaving the mess for me to clean.
Garbage cookies, "A"
Some days semi-homemade and packaged mixes are just what the doctor ordered.
1 bag oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix
1 stick melted butter, cooled
1/2 cup caramel, butterscotch or peanut butter chips
3 handfulls kettle chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add the cookie mix, egg, butter, and chips of choice to a large mixing bowl. Crumble in the three handfuls of kettle chips, ensuring that the chips remain in nice size pieces - about 1/2 an inch. Mix gently until combined. Roll into balls, and place on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Place one pretzel on the bottom of each cookie, and one pretzel on top. Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies are browned on the edges, or a little longer if you like really crunchy cookies.
Makes about 18.