One blessing after another

Last night was a very fun time: The physics first-years got together for a Secret Santa exchange. I don't think I've remarked in this blog about how tightly knit the first-year community has become, but last night was further proof of it. Typically when Secret Santa things happen, the gifts are not too creative, and people just end up getting random things. When our group did it, we had to write poems to make others guess who the present was for, and the gifts themselves were creative and well-thought-out. I got a Higgs Boson, which made me VERY happy because I am in love with weird plushies. And physics. The thing that makes the Higgs so cute is that it's really heavy for a plushy, which is good because it's supposed to be a really heavy particle. Apparently my giver (who wouldn't reveal himself...) got it from here. Fantastic times.

My friends also are super amazing and got me a bunch of cookie cutters, a mixer, a cookie press, and so on, which made me really happy ^.^ I'm really glad that I've been able to share this project with them, and that it makes Mondays good enough to encourage me to do more.

And so more I did today, with not one, but TWO different recipes.

I'll start with the more simple one, and a pointless anectdote.
When I was a teenager, my grandma would always make rum balls for my dad, for my mom, for my dad's parents... and I, being the straight-laced, boring kid I was, knew there was alcohol involved and never tried them. But some afternoons I would be at home, searching the fridge for a tasty snack, and I would see them there, covered in cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar, beckoning, beckoning, just beyond the bars... Oops that's some Sweeney Todd sneaking its way in... but anyway, after I turned 21 I tried them and they are SO GOOD. Thus, when I was going through my cookbook for a cookie recipe and stumbled on a rum ball recipe, I knew I had to make them (23).

Now, these rum balls aren't exactly my grandma's recipe, but they are incredibly good. And very easy to make, if any of you want to try. Basically what you do it make brownies, then smash them up and add a quarter cup of rum. Mix them together and then form 1" balls that you roll in coarse sugar (I used cane sugar, becuase everything else was too fine) and refrigerate for a couple hours. So if you were ever that person who liked to smoosh your brownies together and then eat them, you are totally in luck. These are brilliant. And delicious. Try them.

While I was making the rum balls, my friends came over to help me make stained-glass sugar cookies (24). And boy, did I need all the help I could get. For some unfortunate reason, the recipe proportions were off, and we ended up with a dough that was far too dry. An egg and a couple tablespoons of butter later, we were good to go.

So while the dough was chilling, we set out to crush 14 ounces of Jolly Ranchers, while lacking the appropriate tools to do so. I regret to say that two of my plastic bowls were broken in the process, but I'm not too destroyed by the loss, as the cookies are awesome.

In order to make these cookies, you make something like a basic sugar cookie dough (although I suggest using less sugar, as the centers are basically pure sugar), roll it and cut out your shapes, then cut out smaller shapes from the center. Sprinkle crushed hard candy into the centers and bake for about ten minutes. The candy melts to fill the space, giving a lovely stained glass effect and leaving you with cherry, watermelon, apple, grape, and blue raspberry flavored centers. A warning, though: the purple jolly ranchers don't make very pretty centers, as they are kind of brownish.

So if you want to try something a little out of the ordinary from your usual Christmas sugar cookies (and if your friends just got you a dozen new cookie cutters ^.~), try this! It looks really good and tastes nice. I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions of the other physics people on Monday.

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