Cooking with Friends

I wrote earlier about the peacefulness that accompanies cooking alone. While solitary cooking provides time for meditative thought and for some much de-stressing, let’s not throw cooking with others out the window yet. Although cooking with other people does not allow for as much alone time, I find that cooking itself is therapeutic. So, cooking with family or friends still allows me to de-stress. Some people are strictly one-person cooks, maintaining a “my kitchen, my rules, stay out” type attitude. Trust me, I’ve seen it. This makes sense, though, because sometimes cooking can become a personal and private thing. However, there are some people who don’t mind the occasional intrusion into their cooking space — I’m one of them.  There are no “in my kitchen we do things like this” phrases begin tossed around — well, not a lot of them. In fact, cooking with my friends is amazing — there’s the smell of baking sweets, the joking and the hard work.

This weekend, I embarked on a large cooking feat — making dessert for The Burrow’s Great Feast event held this past Sunday. Because no one wants a shortage of food, least of all the cook, my friends and I made approximately 150 sweets. Doubling and in one case tripling the ingredients, trays of Deathly Hallows Short Bread Cookies, Rock Cakes, and super chocolatey Cauldron Cakes were sent to the party. The initial baking alone took four and half hours and the icing of the Cauldron Cakes took four hours as well. It took a long time. If my friends and suite mates hadn’t helped me, I don’t think the sweets would have been done in time.

But before I become preachy or just gushy, let me stress one thing: If you can cook with other people, do it. Let cooking become a social event, the activity that brings you and your friends together. This past Saturday was a blast for me, all other cooking-related stress aside. For four hours I got to smell vanilla, chocolate and orange zest — for four hours I got to listen to Pandora Online Radio and sing annoyingly to the songs — for four hours I got to unite my friends with a common goal (let’s get this done) — within four hours I actually used my time well.

However, before you decide to embark on a cooking adventure with your friends, make sure to do the following things:

  • Print out the recipes.
  • Make adjustments beforehand or just have a friend who is good at fractional math.
  • Secure a large cooking space and working oven — preferably not a kitchen within a laundry room.
  • Bring all supplies with you so you and your friends don’t have to run back and forth.
  • Taste test food with friends.

Also, for those interested in what these recipes might look like, here you go:

Deathly Hallows Cookies

Adapted from http://bit.ly/o7RFzM

We doubled this recipe to make about 44 cookies.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • A clean bottle cap or other small circular cut-out device
  • Cookie cutter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 (or 325 so cookies brown) degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or just use a hand mixer and a large bowl of your choice), whip together your butter and brown sugar. Very slowly add the flour until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Place the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth (should not take more than a minute). Roll the dough to about 1/3″ thick. Cut out triangle shapes using the cookie cutter or a knife.
  4. Press the bottle cap or other circular object into the dough in the style of the Deathly Hallows symbol. Carve a line down the middle with a knife to create the wand part of the symbol.
  5. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or wax paper). These cookies don’t spread out in the oven so feel free to put them quite close together. Bake these for about 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Hagrid’s Rock Cakes

Adapted from http://bit.ly/mOJUd8

Preparation Time

27 minutes

Servings

36 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-rising flour (or plain flour sifted with 2 tsp baking powder)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit (such as a mixture of moist packs of dried apricots, raisins and cranberries)
  • Finely grated rind of small orange
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Juice of 1/2 small orange

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease baking tray.
  3. Sift flour and salt.
  4. Using pastry blender, cut margarine or butter into the flour.
  5. Add sugar, dried fruit and orange rind. Stir in egg.
  6. Add milk and just enough juice to make a stiff, sticky consistency that will stand in peaks when stirred with a knife.
  7. Put walnut-sized heaps of mixture on baking tray.
  8. Allow them to keep a rough, rocky shape.
  9. Do not flatten or smooth them.
  10. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and firm. Cool on rack. Cool completely for flavor to develop.

Double Double Chocolate Cauldron Cakes

Adapted from http://bit.ly/oLkOY3

Makes about 18 cakes
Ingredients

CAKES

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons powdered chocolate milk mix
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

FROSTING

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips, for dipping and decor (We found this extra chocolate to be unnecessary. There is already a ton of chocolate in this recipe at this point.)

Directions 

CAKES

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray that contains flour or line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the oil and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the ingredients in the bowl and beat until just combined. Add have the milk and stir until combined, then scrape the bowl. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the flour int he bowl, and again mix until just combined before adding the remaining milk. Beat until just mixed, then add the remaining flour and beat the mixture until thoroughly combined, scraping the bowl, as needed.
  4. Stir int he chocolate chips. Place 2 tablespoons of the batter in each cup. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of cake batter. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

FILLING

  1. Combine the milk, flour, and chocolate drink mix in a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
  2. Whisk together until the mixture thickens, then remove from heat and allow to cool completely before continuing (I place mine in a small bowl in the freezer for 15-20 minutes).
  3. In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the vanilla, then beat in the milk mixture until combined.
  5. Whip the mixture until light and fluffy (if it looks separated, continue beating until it comes together).

FROSTING

  1. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. Stir in the vanilla and cocoa, and beat until combined.
  3. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until the mixture reaches a smooth, fluffy consistency.

DECORATING

  1. Use a paring knife or other sharp small knife and make holes in the middle of the cakes.
  2. Put the filling into a plastic bag, seal it and then cut off the tip. Squeeze the filling into the holes.
  3. Use another plastic bag and follow the same technique to pipe in the chocolate butter cream frosting over the filling.
  4. At this point add colored sprinkles to the frosting so it looks like a a potion. Cut Twizzlers in half and use them as the handles of the cauldron. The original recipe calls for chocolate handles, but think do you want more chocolate?