If you're a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, chances are you've got at least one person you plan to make something for this holiday season.
The hope is that these gifts from the heart and the labor of our hands really mean something to the folks we share them with.
And we benefit in turn. Homemade gifts save us from many painful hours of shuffling between cranky, last-minute shoppers, trying to drown out the bad Christmas songs playing on repeat as we find ourselves staring for far too long at inspirational mirror art that says "You have so much to live for," and for a brief moment in that shopping purgatory think, "Do I, though?"
A good bake can save lives, people.
But sometimes, when the pressure is on, despite our best efforts, everything can go wrong.
I made these notoriously difficult, crunchy egg-white meringues for the first time a few months back, and despite my dread, they turned out pretty much perfectly:
But that was when I had no plan for them.
So, of course, when trying to make two batches to include in goodie boxes I planned to mail to friends, everything went horribly wrong.
I must have over mixed, because what I got was a lumpy-McLumperson batter, which made a chunky, sliding-apart-in-the-oven mess. They're still tasty, but nowhere near pretty enough to hold up as what I'd hoped would be an impressive gift.
NOT what macarons should look like...
Better, but still wrong.
How to cope: Don't make macarons. What are you, Martha Stewart? The Barefoot Contessa? No. And ain't nobody got time for that.
So, instead, I tried to make these rolled sugar cookies that kept popping up on BuzzFeed Tasty:
Beautiful, right? Plus, I've made sugar cookies tons of times. This'll be a breeze!
But this is what I got:
So, on to Plan C, and I think it's actually a good one.
If everything you make winds up looking messed up, find something that is meant to look messed up: the chocolate crinkle.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (to share!)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Use an electric mixer to blend the sugar and oil, then mix in the cocoa powder. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Add the baking powder and salt until well-combined, then slowly add in the flour until it is all mixed.
The mixture will be just thicker than brownie batter — this is what you want!
Cover the dough in the bowl and pop it in the fridge. You can chill it overnight, but if you're a last-minute baker like me, an hour or so is fine.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and then use a spoon or scoop to grab a little dough at a time, roll it into a ball, and then cover in powdered sugar. Repeat until your baking sheet is full and cover the dough and put it back in the fridge while the batch in the oven bakes. It should only take about 11 to 14 minutes, and they'll look kind of underdone when you take them off to cool on a wire rack.