Everybody thinks I should give up (on) Pioneer Woman. Believe me, I don’t much like her. But it has nothing to do with the fact that she might be kind of fake. This IS television after all. Why should we expect a COOKING SHOW to depict real events, when EVEN “reality” shows (actually, ESPECIALLY reality shows) are not true to life? That part doesn’t bother me at all.
Just the other week, Ree’s mother-in-law or “Grandma” took the “kids” “camping”. Did I care that Granny and the young’uns might have been a tad coached? Nah! What bothered me was that Ree made cornbread without one grain of sugar in it. That’s just wrong (to a Northerner). I don’t care if that’s the way they make it in the South. (Maybe they put SO MUCH sugar in their tea, they figure they have to cut back somewhere.) Too bad. Indian Head guy uses sugar and I think cornbread without it would be tasteless and dry.
And by the way, I don’t think planting a fake snake at the campfire was terribly bright on Ree’s part. What if one of the kids had grabbed a shotgun and fired through Granny’s hip?
Anyhoo, I was just casually watching PW, not intending to write about it and then she did something fairly astounding. At the same time, it was so simple that I thought,”Now WHY didn’t I think of that?”
Ree made a run-of-the-mill sugar cookie dough. (And, actually, I take huge exception with the fact that she used powdered sugar instead of regular. What is it with her and sugar today???) BUT she added something extra to the dough. She added cocoa powder to make CHOCOLATE sugar cookies. I was enraptured AND fascinated.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve made chocolate DROP cookies dozens of times - those cookies that get those yummy crevices on the top and you sprinkle over powdered sugar. (THERE’S a good use for powdered sugar.) Or I’ve made a basic Toll House type thing, but with cocoa in it, so it becomes a CHOCOLATE chocolate chip cookie. (I guess that also counts as a chocolate drop cookie.)
BUT I had never made standard rolled-out sugar cookies with cocoa or chocolate. I ran to my (several) Joy of Cooking’s to see if there was a recipe. I looked in several other books. I couldn’t find one, but in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, there it was on page 192 - Old Fashioned Chocolate Sugar Cookies – published over THIRTY years ago!
After THAT, of course I found hundreds of Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipes, because, obviously, I am the last person on earth not to have heard of them. BTW, thanks a lot, everybody, for not cluing me in. It’s kind of sad that PW had to tell me.
I’m thinking about the TONS of Christmases, when my kids and I made TONS of sugar cookies in TONS of shapes with egg yolk paint and how great it would have been to have had some chocolate cookies in there too.
I’m kind of sad to have lost all those baking opportunities, but, fortunately, THANKS TO PIONEER WOMAN, I can start new memories right now.
Lest you think I’ve really lost my mind, I have no intention of using Ree’s actual recipe. As I’ve said, I don’t get the idea of the powdered sugar in the dough and I can’t stand Silpat, which she bakes her cookies on. It’s fine for rolling things out, but I’ve found that the bottom of things don’t get crispy. They stay kind of blah and cakey.
By the way, this past week, I was looking for even more revelations from Pioneer Woman. The episode DID have to with church, so there was a chance of something uplifting happening, but no such luck. Ree was cooking for a church potluck. (Do you think that they actually built a church “set” or did they bribe the local vicar with green bean casserole?) The Barbecued Meatballs sounded gross. She basically just threw meatballs into barbecue sauce and called it dinner. Woo-hoo. Not.
But the prospect of another intriguing recipe makes me want to keep one eye on what Pioneer Woman cooks. Unlike the great rule of comedy – if you buy the premise, you buy the bit - I don’t have to buy the premise of a glorified life on the range to buy the occasional great idea for a recipe.