"What??? Excuse me?" you ask... I know, I can't believe it either.
When the Matchbook editors, Katie and Jane asked me to stop by the apartment of renowned Target home stylist, Sabrina Soto, with a cookie recipe one Friday afternoon in November, I could barely believe my good fortune. No, I didn't know Sabrina or why this honor had come to me of all people. But in the words of Dana the conflicted teenage daughter on Homeland to her terrorist father, "sometimes you just have to learn how to say yes when good things happen"
So, I accepted that the world is a beautiful mystery and got to work making my mother's traditional Christmas candy recipe which she calls "brickle". I've watched her make it countless times and helped most of them. I recalled the melting of butter and sugar on the stove top and watching it turn a delicious dark caramel color, the addition of pecans and then the spreading of melted chocolate over the top... piece of cake (or brickle)! So I was pretty sure I could recreate it easily the morning before the cookie exchange.
I did not take into account how much the substandard nature of my apartment would affect the outcome. Turns out having a "real life adult" kitchen is the key ingredient my mother had left of the list of things I'd need.
In a real adult kitchen you have things like a stove whose flame intensity levels can be adjusted beyond "burned to death" and "off". Ideally this stove would also be level with the ground, instead of the less well-known version I am stuck with which offers a slight incline causing food to pool in one side of the pan while the side of the pan at a higher elevation burns to crisp. There would also not be a migratory mouse that occasionally lives under your stove on his way to other apartments.
Man, I hate my stove almost as much as my love seat.
Oh and you would also have a candy thermometer to measure the exact temperature (hard crack stage) at which the butter and sugar turns to toffee. And the necessary space next to the stove to quickly pour the hellishly hot toffee mixture out onto a sheet pan at the moment it crystalizes, creating perfect shiny candy.
Guess what is next to my stove.
Anyway, making my recipe for the cookie exchange was daunting thanks to the evil and insufficient nature lurking in the very fiber of my apartment.
But on the THIRD try, I managed to make the recipe just like I remembered it with time to pop it in a tin and race up town to meet Sabrina and the lovely fellow matchbook girls ready to exchange cookies with me. It was wonderful to see my old friends Mackenzie and Roxy and to meet new friends too.
All in all, it was a fun, sugar-high afternoon with good company and delicious recipes. You can find all of them in the new December issue so be sure to read it!