NormaLee, four of her daughters, two grandsons, one granddaughter, and one great-grandson participated in a baking day at her house Saturday.
NormaLee’s family loves dessert (who doesn’t?). She likes to have cookies in her freezer in case she gets visitors or if she needs to contribute to a funeral lunch…or she just wants a cookie. At least a few times a year, a cookie day is organized to restock freezers. At NormaLee’s house, if you want to take cookies home, you better be willing to help.
NormaLee makes a fairly consistent set of cookies so everyone knows what to expect. She has a convection oven so three trays of cookies can cook at once. She has a KitchenAid mixer (and all the immediate, local households have the same size so they can share bowls and other parts). NormaLee has three bowls but they got one more from one of her daughters. This allows them to make lots of cookies fairly quickly. Everyone has a job–one person to mix cookies, two to put them on trays, one to watch the oven and remove them, one to chop nuts, and one to be a floater and fetcher. It’s all quite organized.
After about three solid hours of work, NormaLee and her family had produced eight types of cookies, totaling about 300 or so cookies. The varieties were chocolate chip with pecans, chocolate chip without pecans, white chocolate chip with macadamia nuts, cowboy, sugar, peanut butter, sand tarts, and oatmeal raisin. Recipes for the last five varieties are on this site. You should try them. They are delicious.
The idea of making pralines had been discussed, and it was decided to make them after lunch. That recipe is here, too. Pralines use a pint of heavy cream, a full pound (yes, four sticks) of butter and seven to eight cups of pecans. The recipe makes 70-80 pralines so even though it takes a while to make them, the batch is large enough to make it worthwhile.
NormaLee’s granddaughter that was there doesn’t like pecans, but she really likes the “goo” in the pralines. It had been discussed before, but one of her daughters decided to try to make caramels using the praline recipe. It worked very well. She followed the praline recipe on this site, but cooked the caramel to 245 degrees the second time and obviously didn’t add the pecans. She poured the mixture into a greased brownie pan. It didn’t cool quickly enough for her so she put the pan in some ice water to chill it to room temperature. She removed it from the pan and used a mezzaluna-style pizza cutter to cut into bite-sized pieces. The adults then wrapped the pieces in squares of parchment paper, which was much better than fewer people wrapping.
it was a very fruitful day. Everyone enjoyed the company and even after the kids and grandkids took cookies home, NormaLee still had plenty to restock her freezer. A few photos are included below.