Thursday, July 7, 2011

Derailed by biscotti

I have been having trouble mustering up the motivation to tackle the numerous little things that need to be done before O's 2nd birthday party this Saturday. Yes, that's two days from now, and I have a HUGE list of projects, including, but not limited to:

  • Cleaning the bathroom (and yes, I will likely only clean the one that will be used by party guests, NOT all four [!!!!] that now exist is this house)
  • Baking at least two (which is down from the original plan for three) more batches of cookies (and I do mean, "more," because I already have four batches in my freezer)
  • Decluttering the entire house
  • Baking and decorating cupcakes
  • Wrapping (and in at least one case, assembling) O's presents
  • Grocery shopping (for the items that the store didn't have and those that I forgot during my FIRST grocery trip this morning!)
  • Dusting, vacuuming, and washing the kitchen floor

Ugh! Some people thrive on the pressure of putting things off until the last minute, but I shut down. I just don't want to do any of it, so here I sit.

I did, however, attempt to make one of those batches of cookies just moments ago. I feared that the recipe (found here) for "Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti" might be a little challenging, considering it included the word "persevere" in the instructions! Huh?

But I thought I was up for the challenge anyway. I toasted my almonds (all 3 cups of them!) and mixed all the other ingredients with no problem. But then I got to this part: "Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball."

Ummmmm, yeah. I kneaded and squeezed that runny, sticky dough for just under 10 minutes and the consistency did not appear to be changing at all. Instead, my shoulders were getting tired. So, I tried dumping it all into my handy dandy KitchenAid mixer, using the bread hook. I've never used the bread hook before, but it's supposed to make dough balls, right? (I honestly don't know what the bread hook is supposed to do. Someone please tell me!) Anyway, I let that do its thing for 12 minutes (or something like that — at some point I lost track while furiously trying to read if there were any comments on the recipe link that might have indicated that others had experienced the same kind of problem. There weren't any such comments.) I was afraid the motor on my beloved mixer was going to burn out, so since there was very little progress in the way of runny batter turning firm dough ball, I decided to call it quits.

Here's where I started taking photos to document this process, while simultaneously muttering curse words at the realization that I had just wasted a ton of time and ingredients (although, I was mostly upset about the lost time). Few things tick me off like wasting precious "me time" during Owen's nap.

Notice the batter dripping from the mixer hook. Not exactly "firm dough."

My first instinct was to just dump the batter in the trash and clean up the mess I'd made. But instead, I figured it was worth one last shot at creating something edible (although not likely anything I'd bother to put out at this party, which you'll recall, was the whole reason for starting this little project today.)

I tried putting them on the cookie sheets using a scoop, as you would any
normal cookie.

When they first came out of the scoop, they almost looked like they might
hold that firm, ball shape...

...but seconds later, they looked like this.

I had no idea how long to bake them. The original recipe said 40 minutes, but that was assuming they were in little dough logs. I just kinda kept an eye on them as I typed this post and they ended up spending about 30 minutes in a 350 oven.

Um, here's how they turned out.

Don't let this almost-appetizing photo fool you...

...they were gross.

Hollow, crispy, and burnt-tasting. I may have left them in a little too long — that doughy looking top part threw me, appearing to be mushy, but actually getting quite crispy. Regardless, I'm not trying another batch. Into the garbage it all goes.

So, here I sit, stewing over the time lost messing with these darn biscotti, and feeling even more lack of motivation to get all my other projects completed. It's frustrating how one relatively small set-back can just derail my whole afternoon. Owen is now up from his nap and what do I have to show for those precious one-and-a-half hours of free time? Um, this blog post. Period.


I will be back soon with more (upbeat) details on Owen's party, which I'm sure will turn out lovely. In the meantime, I have a mess to clean up.


  1. Boooo. That stinks! And I totally know what you mean about lost precious time during naps. What a bummer they didn't turn out. :( Maybe they needed more flour during the kneading process? Who knows. Either way, UGH! I also don't know what that bread kneader attachment is for necessarily, but I THINK if you start with all the ingredients needed for bread, and use that to mix them, it will form a dough for you and even kind of form it into a ball. But again, I have no idea. I am not a baker by any means! haha.

  2. ah shoot!! what a frustrating situation - i would have screamed :) i am sure all of your other cookies will be scrumptious - can't wait to eat them all up!! and like jackie, i am NOT a baker and seem to screw up anything i try to make from scratch. i don't really have any ideas or suggestions for what happened here. i like the boxed mixes - i stick to those. so i applaud you for even trying!!!

  3. (This is Amanda, btw. Since I don't have a blog, it won't let me comment as anything but Anonymous. I feel so mysterious!!)

    Are you sure that you read the recipe correctly? I've made biscotti before, and I've never had the dough be that runny, even at the beginning of the mixing process. Jackie is right, sounds like it needs more flour (or less egg). Also, the bread hook mixes and kneads bread dough so that you don't have to. Before I got my bread maker, I tried using it. It didn't....go well. Like at all. I accidentally left it on too long and ended up with the hardest bread dough ever that refused to rise and was super duper dense. So...yeah...if I need to make yeasty baked goods that I can't do with a bread maker, I just knead it by hand.

  4. Oh my goodness, this story is SO my life! I was laughing with you in frustration and the lost time and ingredients! Just a few months ago I had a bad kitchen flop (resulting in the ruining of my new bread baking stone that I had to throw away!) and I literally stood in the kitchen sobbing saying "now I wasted all those ingredients and I don't even have a dessert to serve my guests! My life is RUINED!" and then I ran upstairs, throwing myself on my bed in the most dramatic way a 30 something stay at home mom possibly could! Eventually Rick came in, calmed me down and I made cupcakes from a box I had in the pantry! LOL! At least these things make good blog posts!

    I was totally laughing about the dough hook, which I will happily show you how to use some day! (I did think to myself before reading that "why is she kneading this by hand and not putting it in a mixer!") Oh my, I have had too many kitchen flops to list or even count... What I have discovered the only real way we find the "keepers" is by weeding out the "flops"! I did recently read a party throwing tip in the newspaper (from that dude your hubby dressed up as for halloween, guy something or other) last week I thought was good: don't try all new recipes, stick with things that are tried and true and maybe incorporate one new thing into the party menu. That way if the new thing "flops" your guests still have good food to eat!

    I hope the rest of the party was uneventful and went as planned!!!

  5. I am just now seeing this post. Did this occur before or after Owen got sick? Sounds like Thursday was a slightly frustrating day!

    If it makes you feel better, the first birthday cake I made for Owen crumbled and I had to re-do it the morning of the party ;)