My father is an educator. I have childhood memories of helping to decorate his classrooms, and later, as he moved from a teacher to a principal, hanging out in the copy room and helping to staple endless packets of paper together. Today, he is a superintendent and, when I have to opportunity to visit, I still enjoy a trip to his colorful office full of reminders of my childhood.
From the years of watching my father work endless hours to foster a love of learning in children, I know the around the clock commitment that goes into such a job. The staff at my daughter's school is no exception. So, as my daughter completes her first month of school in Thailand, it seems only natural to take a moment and recognize those who have made her transition into formal education a successful one. So, a few days back, I concocted a plan to bring some treats into the teacher's lounge accompanied by a few written words expressing my thanks. Sounded simple enough at the time, but, like most things in life, the path to my gift of appreciation's creation took a few unexpected twists and turns.
While we have a well stocked market in our Bangkok neighborhood, it requires a bit of an outing to get to. We try to do our shopping, for our family of four, once per week so we can qualify for the home delivery option available. Wonderfully convenient... unless you forget just a few heavy items and find yourself lugging them home through the heat and humidity (with a child begging to be carried and wanting to stop for sticky rice from the neighborhood street vendor).
So, planning ahead, I added my necessary ingredients to our weekly list for the HUGE candy cookies I planned to make (show stoppers always and a little play on words... "HUGE cookies for HUGE appreciation"... I know, corny, but, trust me... completely effective). The groceries arrived a couple of days ago and I got started baking this morning. I hadn't counted on two elements that became a part of my morning-- the first: my newly created recipe yielded a very small amount of cookies and the second: the sneaky ability of my son to consume massive quantities of candy when my back is turned. My recipe made a whopping four cookies (I needed about 50 to complete my project) and my son found the giant bowl of M&M's I placed on the apparently now accessible to him counter. I saw him licking the bowl clean before he turned into a whirling blur of sugar energy bouncing off the walls of our dining room.
Two additional trips to the store were taken today, with me lugging pounds of butter, sacks of flour, bags of sugar, and endless tiny bags of M&M candies (since the store's larger bag supply was already purchased a couple of days earlier during our weekly grocery shopping!).
The huge cookies fit three at a time in my Bangkok-sized oven. This post has been written eight minutes at a time as I place a new batch of cookies into the oven and wait for them to turn from pasty white to a beautiful golden brown. I've personally consumed several cookies worth of dough and have broken out in a sweat at the thought that I might have to make another run to the store for yet another sack of M&Ms.
It's now two o'clock in the morning on the day of my planned delivery to the staff lounge. The kids have long been asleep and I'm clicking the dials off on the oven. I just finished individually wrapping the final batch of cookies and have packed them into their basket along with my note of appreciation. Now, perhaps I should wander to the bedroom and set an alarm clock before getting a few hours of sleep.
Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 65:
HUGE Candy Popping Cookies
This is one of my favorite cookies to buy in a bakery, but now that I've created this recipe I may never need to buy another. The size of them makes them seem extra special when you're giving them as a gift. I've tried to make other large sized cookies only to be disappointed by them crumbly apart after they had cooled. Finally, I have a recipe that yields delicious, gift worthy cookies that won't immediately crumble to pieces! Make them as large as you like and remove them from the pan with care. They'll firm up nicely on a wire rack without risk of crumbly apart later.
1 cup of unsalted butter
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of M&M candies, frozen
In a large bowl, whip the butter with the sugar until the mixture is a light lemon color. Add the eggs. Mix to combine. Then, add the baking soda, vanilla and flour. Mix into a dough. Form into balls slightly larger than a golf ball in size and place onto a silicone mat lined baking sheet, three cookies per sheet. Flatten the balls and press a generous amount of M&Ms onto each cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for eight minutes until lightly golden on the edges of the cookies. Remove from oven and allow to cool for three minutes on the pan. Using a large spatula, remove carefully to a wire rack. Allow to harden and wrap individually in saran wrap to preserve the texture.
Yield: 8 huge cookies