There are trays of chocolate-hazelnut rugelach and madeleines in my kitchen. Huge trays of perfect, buttery goodness. Most reasonable people would be baked out by this point.
But Sunday evening rolls around and I want to bake. I need to bake.
I take a quick poll. I rule out the frontrunner, croissants: With so much time needed for rising, they won't be ready anytime soon.
D says, “Make something from the gooey lady.” The gooey lady?
Oh, he means Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.
I pick a recipe and get down to business: Caramel Cheesecake Bars. I press the shortbread dough into a metal pan and bake it for twenty-five minutes.
I pour the cream cheese, blended with sugar, vanilla, and eggs, onto the still warm shortbread and drizzle the top with dulce de leche.
And suddenly there’s a lot going on in the kitchen. I’m making a new-to-me recipe (stuffed chicken with asparagus and goat cheese)… and I’ve just decided to teach myself how to use the rice cooker.
The kitchen gods smile upon me: Dinner is plated; the rice is cooked perfectly; the cheesecake bars are cooling. So I’m in the clear.
But the recipe says to chill the bars for at least four hours, preferably twenty-four, and I’m not a very patient person.
I cut into the bars and lift out a piece; the warm cheesecake – almost like a thick custard, with swirls of dulce de leche – slides off the shortbread crust.
But that doesn’t stop us.
So we pour glasses of cold milk and eat our fill – using spoons to scoop up the sweet, creamy filling. And then I give into logic, obey the instructions, and put the bars in the refrigerator overnight.
I checked on the bars just now… You know, for rigorous taste testing.
You know what? They’re good even when you follow directions.