How to be a break-and-bake hero

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It’s easy to overlook life’s everyday conveniences, isn’t it? We can illuminate a room with the flip of a switch, take a shower with the turn of a knob, and have face-to-face conversations with people around the world. We can also break-and-bake our way to  cookies that taste just like homemade—11 to 13 minutes in a preheated oven—and no one needs to be the wiser. No doubt we’re living in the lap of luxury.

As you can imagine, I’m especially fond of break-and-bake cookies. Baking from scratch isn’t necessarily my forte—although not quite as bad as that whole housecleaning issue—so it’s not often that I crack open the vanilla extract. But when I do, Colton’s favorite cookies, the peanut butter cookies with the chocolate kiss on top, are typically involved. Every time he requests them, I have to spend at least a day building myself up for the action, which goes something like this:

  • Scoop out flour, hit elbow on counter, spill flour everywhere (especially if the floors have just been mopped).
  • Dig out the rogue piece of egg shell that feel into the wet ingredients.
  • Mix the dough and roll into balls for the next hour and a half, while fighting off extreme boredom.
  • Realize I forgot to add vanilla extract.
  • Sigh loudly. Dredge a million dough balls in sugar.
  • Bake.
  • Unroll eleven hundred thousand chocolate kisses in a race to beat the cookies out of the oven.
  • Top each cookie with with chocolate, and repeat the process. Or (my favorite) make one giant cookie with the remaining dough because you’re too lazy to hang out in the kitchen for another three hours. At least it feels like three hours.

I’m already exhausted thinking about it. Which is why I came up with an ingenious idea the last time Colton requested them.

“What if we use the break-and-bake peanut butter cookies?” I suggested to Colton. “That way, we’d only need to unwrap the chocolate!”

“Nah. That wouldn’t be the same. Peanut butter kisses have to be made the right way.”

This coming from the same kid who has been known to tuck a wrapper between the couch cushions instead of getting up to throw it away. Yet here he was, lecturing me on the right way to make cookies. But I digress.

Easy versus old-fashioned

You know me well enough to know the wheels were turning on the break-and-bake, right? That there was no way of turning back, right? All I needed was a trip to the store sans my teenage counterpart. Because now it was a quest, and for all his clamoring about all that’s right and proper, I was betting he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

I picked a recent Friday afternoon while he was at school to test my theory. I rolled each square of dough in the palm of my hand to create a more homemade look—square cookies would’ve been a dead giveaway. Because every ounce of energy hadn’t already been expended, I unwrapped the 24 chocolate kisses in no time. I may have even whistled while I worked. (Why I don’t already have my own cooking show on Food Network is beyond me.)

The smell of fresh baked cookies greeted Colton the moment he opened the front door. He headed straight to the kitchen and scarfed down four cookies before coming up for air, and I waited for the moment of reckoning.

“These are the best cookies in the world,” he said, “and you’re the best mom.”

Okay, I’ll admit it. Part of me felt a slight tinge of guilt. But another part of me—the stronger, more logical part—did a little victory dance. Almost giddy thinking about what this shortcut made possible, next time I’d up my game. I could make peanut butter, chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies—all in a single afternoon.

I just hope he doesn’t ask to lick the bowl.

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