When we have friends over for Sunday brunch, the bulk of the meal is conveniently store-bought from the small shops around us. A generous cheese platter, a few items from the charcuterie (such as sliced bone-in ham, terrines, and sometimes eggs in aspic for a bit of harmless proselytizing), ample supplies of fresh baguette (usually a mix of plain and multigrain), and a selection of croissants and pains au chocolat (always a difficult thing to get right, as it's hard to know who will prefer which, so you end up getting one of each for everyone, but you can make croissants aux amandes with the leftovers so that's okay).
I like to throw in a couple of homemade items too, and for these I usually have wild ambitions. I picture warm quiches, elegant soufflés, golden frittatas, fluffy pancakes, moist yogurt cakes, plump scones, pretty muffins, or perhaps a few crumpets, which I've been wanting to make for about three years and still haven't, for no apparent reason.
But the problem with brunch, really, is that it happens so early in the day -- or more accurately, since 1pm is not exactly early, so soon after I wake up. By the time I've emerged, showered, hopped out to the bakery, waited in line while admiring the latest bread creations, and walked back home, chewing on the warm crunchy tip I've teared out from one of the baguettes, there is usually little time left to bring my edible projects to life.
And this is why, last Sunday, while Maxence was putting together a batch of simple but outstanding oeufs cocotte with foie gras, I decided to play the trump card of convenience, and use the cookie mix I'd been keping in my kitchen cabinet for such occasions.
This cookie mix is made by an American company called Sisters' Gourmet, based in Georgia, and was brought back to us from New York by two of our friends. The company's motto is, "We make it easy for you to make it homemade", and although the phrase could have been put a bit more elegantly in my humble opinion, it sounded like just what I needed.
The blend I had was called Cookies for Santa -- very seasonal, I know. It came in a tall Mason jar with all the ingredients neatly layered inside, like those frames filled with different colors of sand that little girls like to bring back as a souvenir for their mother from a summer camp by the sea. A bit tacky, but the mother is touched nonetheless and keeps it safe somewhere in the back of a closet.
The Cookies for Santa mix produces chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, with shredded coconut and crushed corn flakes thrown in for good measure. As promised, the cookies were extremely easy to make: you just soften some butter (I used my trusted butter with salt flakes), blend it with an egg, dump in the contents of the jar, and happily mix it into the wet ingredients with your clean hands. Added bonus: this works as an astoundingly efficient scrub, and your hands come out of the experience as soft and smooth as a summer peach.
More importantly, the cookies turned out to be delicious. I baked them until crispy on the outer rim but still soft in the center, filling the house with a warm welcoming smell, and they were just perfect: full-flavored but not too sweet, they offered a nice variety of textures to keep your teeth interested -- chewy oatmeal, crunchy corn flakes, and smooth chocolate chips. Maxence officialy declared them to be the best American-style cookies he had ever eaten, and they were enthusiastically scarfed down by our guests.
The jar yielded 27 cookies so they fueled us for a few more days, but now that they're all gone, I really have to enquire about international shipping.
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