Sunday, December 3, 2017

Something Sweet with @NathanBurgoine

I love to bake. And come the holidays, I start to bake—usually while listening to holiday audiobooks. It gets me into the holiday mood, provides snacks, and gives me an excuse to, y'know, eat the snacks.

My favourite? Swiss ginger cookies. I've fiddled with this recipe so much, I've got it down cold, and the cookies come out perfect: thin, crispy but also chewy (they're edible oxymorons)!

Take 1 and 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, pop it in a glass bowl with a cup of brown sugar and nuke it for say 25 seconds or so, enough to take a fork to it and smoosh it around until it's mixed together without any lumps of butter.

Add a room-temperature egg.

Stir that sucker up.

Turn the oven to 350 F (180 C). 

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (which is the best thing ever because no washing bloody cookie sheets after).

Add 1/4 cup of molasses to the egg, sugar and butter. Stir it all up again until it's even.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of cloves, 2 tsp of baking soda, and 1 and 1/2 tsp of ground ginger. Stir again until it's even.

Grab a packet of crystallized ginger. Pull out a 1/2 cup measure. Chop the ginger into pretty small pieces (I aim for less than half a centimetre cubed, so it's a lot of chopping) put the bits into the 1/2 cup measure until it's full. Pop that into the bowl and stir, again.

Now, take some of the dough and try to roll an inch-sized ball (not larger) between your palms. Too sticky? Grab a tablespoon more of the all-purpose flour, mix it in, try again. Still too sticky? Another tablespoon of flour. If it's still a bit off, try adding a tablespoon of granulated sugar into the mix, too. Stir.

Speaking of granulated sugar, pour some into a small bowl. When you roll a ball of dough, you're going to dip it into the sugar and then put it on the parchment sheet sugar-dipped-side-up. If it's a bit tacky on your fingers and gets a tiny bit misshapen when you let go of the dough-ball, you've got the texture right. It'll melt flat while it bakes. 

For dog owners? Basically, you're going for the texture of a dog poop that's just on the edge of being able to pick up with the poop bag. You're welcome for the visual. If you're not a dog owner, uh, re-read the last paragraph there.

Try to make sure you don't put more than a dozen on the tray so they have room to spread while they bake without touching. Our oven runs a bit hot at 350 F so it's only about nine minutes a tray, but with my old oven it was 11; flick the light on and watch your first tray. Once they've flattened out, you'll see the edge of the cookies darken, so you might only need nine minutes. This is why I use two trays, one goes in, I prep the second, the first comes out, second goes in, I let the first sit four minutes to cool, then transfer cookies to the wire rack and prep the tray for it's next turn once the nine minute timer goes off, repeat. You don't need to change the parchment sheet between uses.

It makes about three and a half dozen (five sheets or so). 


Speaking of sweet holidays things, I also have a holiday novella that just came out. 

At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.
A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.
As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.

Handmade Holidays is available from NineStar Press, and, of course, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and everywhere quality LGBTQ e-romances are sold.

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