Is it just me? Or is it normal to become veeeeeery particular about the look of your Tuesdays with Dorie desserts. Maybe even a teeny bit compulsive. I’ve been part of this group since the beginning of 2009 — just three months — and maybe I’ve become a little complacent about things like cooking technique and flavor. The cookbook is just so darn user-friendly, Dorie walks you through each step so you’re bound to succeed. I don’t feel any anxiety about whether things from this cookbook will taste great. They always do.
These are no exception — they taste great. They’re pleasantly chewy and buttery, with lovely lime zest and a little hit of salt in each bite. (Find the recipe here.)
But the look. It’s an issue. Take this week, for instance. A few of my fellow bakers mentioned the possibility of these cookies spreading. Uh oh. Not good. My beautiful little squares, spreading to make imperfect and ungainly shapes? An unattractive bulge here. A spreading middle section there. No! Is this just a phenomenon for the middle-aged Dorie-ites? Or is it the word “thins” in the cookie’s name that makes me crazy?
My grandma Theda, before she was photographed, used to turn her head to make sure the camera captured her best profile (she jokingly pronounced it “prah-full”). I do the same each week with this blog. My husband takes all the photos for me, but I’m the food stylist, covering flaws with a dollop of whipped cream here or a drizzle of sauce there.
But every so often the week’s dessert is such that I have to ask: can you fix this with photography? When these coconut cookies came out of the oven, I looked at them, let out a little sigh, then picked up two very sharp knives. I tried to nudge them back into perfect squares, nipping, tucking, performing a baker’s version of plastic surgery.
My husband took dozens of pictures, and I came along afterward like some oily casting director flipping through head shots, murmuring, “Too flabby. Too tall. Too blonde.”
I’m going to bring the cookies to a party tomorrow afternoon, but it’s a party for 3- and 4-year-old children, who will demolish the plate without giving a moment’s consideration to the slight imperfections. It seems there’s a lesson in there somewhere. Do I think these desserts are somehow an extension of me, my slouching toward middle age, my own spreading middle? Could be, but there’s no time to dwell on that now. I’m already looking ahead to next week’s banana cream pie. I’ll have to watch that the custard holds together — whipped cream can only go so far.