Saturday, March 04, 2006

True Suburban Recipe?

I did not grow up with the odor of fresh apple pies, Tollhouse cookies, or cobblers. My mother did not have the time, nor the inclination, for such things. Her sweet-bud repertoire included the occasional grasshopper pie, Harvey Wallbanger cake, or sherry bundt cake. As I write this, I am seeing for the first time the thread here. Now, while my mother was not a lush by any means, she did employ bar goods to enhance her creations. And they weren’t bad, just too few and far between.

To counteract the lack of desserts, I taught myself how to bake. I was always making cupcakes or cookies for school bake sales, after-game treats for the football team, or just to enjoy. Baking is an absolute pleasure for me, and I have whole cupboards dedicated to baking ingredients and single use pans (Madeleine, tartlet, baguette, etc.). It is second nature. But I have come to realize that more of today’s moms are more like mine was than they are like me. They don’t have the time, between work, home, and the children’s myriad activities.

I think I might have found the perfect solution for the problem. When I saw this recipe, I immediately thought of Food TV’s Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. While I haven’t personally been a big fan of this show, I do realize its place in today’s society, allowing people to cook without starting from scratch and using ordinary items from their kitchen cupboard. Anyway, back to me…

I found a recipe for cookies made from a cake mix. Now, I’m sure that Betty Crocker thought of this back in the ‘50s. But I am slow to catch on, I walk to the beat of a different drummer, and don’t always travel in the right circles. It is a quintessential suburban mom recipe. Utilizing what is on hand, easy to adapt to what’s in the cupboard, quick to make, but turning out like you started from scratch.

The basic recipe calls for a yellow cake mix, eggs and oil. You can add chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, toffee baking chips, dried fruit, just about anything. And you can substitute any kind of cake mix. How about carrot cake mix with some nuts thrown in? German chocolate cake mix with coconut? Strawberry cake mix for pink Valentine’s cookies? I had a triple chocolate cake mix (which already had some chips in it), to which I added additional mini-chocolate chips.

Without telling my family what they were, I asked their opinion on the new recipe I was trying. My husband gave a thumbs up (not as enthusiastic as I would have liked, but he was playing in an online poker tournament at the time). My daughter proclaimed them tasty, a cross between a chocolate muffin and a crisp cookie. And my eldest son ate five, knowing full well we had no milk in the house.

The best thing? Fifteen minutes from start to finish. Who doesn’t have 15 minutes to make hot cookies from scratch? Almost as easy (and slightly better) than the slice-and-bake cookies you buy in the refrigerated section. And really cheap. I stock up on cake mixes when they go on sale. This latest box was 79¢. Add in the cost of the eggs, oil, and ½ cup of chocolate chips and the cost is under $1.50. Certainly cheaper than buying packaged cookies, a cookie mix, or the refrigerated kind. And only 15 minutes.

So come on America. Bake a batch today. Smell the aroma of fresh cookies emanating from your kitchen. This week: cake mix cookies, next week: ??? It might just inspire you to try for something more.

Basic Recipe

1 box (approx. 18 oz.) cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-2 cups mix-in (chocolate chips, nuts, coconut)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet.
Pour the cake mix into a bowl, add in eggs and oil and mix thoroughly. Incorporate any additional ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls, or from small ice cream scoop, onto cookie sheet.
Bake 8-11 minutes. Cool on rack.
Makes 2-3 dozen depending on size.

Other cake mix-based cookie recipes can be found at

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