the ultimate cookie box

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OH MY GOODNESS.

I am breaking my loooooooong stretch on not posting on this site! I never forgot about it, and I have still been baking a ton since starting residency, but I have been bad about posting recipes. And oh yeah, I STARTED RESIDENCY! Boise Boy and I moved to New York City last June and started our new lives here. I don’t even know where to start on that, because the last 7 months have been such a whirlwind, so I’ll just do a couple updates in list form—I feel like being an ER doctor has made it impossible for me to write in paragraphs and sentences anymore? Anyways.

  1. Being a doctor is so much better than being a medical student. More tiring, and many more hours, but also just better. It’s rewarding to finally have an actual role on the care team, and have my patients identify me as “their” doctor instead of a rando student.

  2. I definitely picked right with emergency medicine. Don’t get me wrong—there have been shifts, and patients, and bad interactions with consultants that have broken me and have made my blood boil. But there is generally more good than bad. And at the end of the day, I get to go HOME after my shift. Let it go. And that is the beauty of emergency medicine.

  3. Boise Boy is making it through his internship year, too. Unfortunately he doesn’t get to be in the OR yet doing what he wants to be doing—anesthesiology—because he has to do a medicine year first. But he has kept a great attitude in spite of not getting the satisfaction of doing his dream job quite yet. On the bright side, the anesthesia residents we’ve interacted with have been absolutely awesome, and I think Noah is going to be very, very happy next year.

  4. My residency family—this has been the best surprise. You know when you meet a group of people and you’re like “Um, where have you been all my life?” Like it’s so easy to be yourself around them, there is no competitive vibes, no posturing, no fake-niceness. That perfectly describes my intern class. There are 16 of us all together, and they feel like the little family of weirdos I was always meant to be with. Somehow, the Match just works like that. The culture of my training program is such that the older residents really, really look out for the interns—they scout out procedures for us to do, shield us from the bullshit when needed, and are always, ALWAYS there to support us when we feel overwhelmed and underqualified.

  5. NEW YORK. Oh New York. I knew I loved her after I spent a summer with her after my first year of medical school. I knew it wasn’t just a summer fling when I returned to do an away rotation during my fourth year of medical school. And now that I have my own Manhattan zip code, I know it’s that for-real kinda love. So much has been written about loving New York that I won’t try and re-create the wheel here so I’ll just leave it at this: I feel so lucky to be here, and I try to spend every day off I have traipsing through this concrete jungle, soaking up every bit of magic I can. I do miss my family back in Salt Lake like crazy. And at times I miss seeing the mountains—but seeing the Empire State Building from the stoop of our walk-up is a worthy replacement.

OK. NOW ONTO THE COOKIES…

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Growing up my mom baked something homemade for our neighbors every. single. year. for the holidays. Some years it was cinnamon bread, other years madeleine cookies, iced snowflake cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, etc. She would go to Costco and buy a huge thing of flour—that’s how many she would make. It always took her like 3-4 straight days of baking, and then my brother and I would hop in the minivan and make deliveries around the neighborhood. Of course, we complained about having to do this nonstop as kids, but now it’s one of my favorite nostalgic memories. I wanted to carry on the tradition this year in New York, but instead of making them for neighbors (which we don’t know at all), I made them for my intern class. I wanted to basically make each person a cookie box with a bunch of different cookies inside—essentially make it look like you had gone to a cookie exchange without actually having to go to one. Here’s how I approached making these boxes:

  1. Pick your box. Or tin. Or bag. Or paper sleeve. I wanted to do actual boxes so that they would be sturdier (hello NYC commutes home). I found a great Black Friday sale that was offering 50% off these guys. I actually bought out the supply and had to do a couple in just plain cellophane wrap, but they are now back in stock! They are great quality and I love that it can be used afterwards as a little tray for organizing.

  2. Pick your recipes. The number of cookies you do depends on how big your box/container is. I estimated I would need 7 cookie recipes, which was about right. I did the following:

    • The OG 72-hour classic chocolate chip cookies (recipe HERE)

    • Sarah Kieffer’s panbang chocolate chip cookies (recipe HERE)

    • Alison Roman’s salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread (recipe coming as I made these a couple months ago, but for now you can find it HERE)

    • Gingersnaps (recipe HERE)

    • Homemade Oreos (but made with peppermint buttercream instead of vanilla! The original recipe can be found HERE, otherwise stay-tuned for the peppermint version!)

    • Bakery-style double chocolate chunk cookies (recipe HERE)

    • Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe HERE)

  3. Make all the dough up to 1 week in advance and freeze it! This makes the whole 7-types-of-cookies thing less overwhelming. I just made 2 recipes every night and stored the dough in a freezer (use lots of seran wrap to avoid freezer burn!).

  4. Two days before you want to serve the cookies, bake the ones that can withstand being out for a day (I find that chocolate chip cookies tend to get hard/stale faster, so I saved those to bake last). I baked the gingersnaps, oreos (but didn’t fill them), and the PB cookies 2 days before. Wrapped them in seran-wrap, put them in an airtight container, and stored them for a day.

  5. The night before I wanted to deliver everything I baked up the rest of the cookies and filled the oreos with peppermint buttercream. I made sure everything was totally cooled before putting them in the boxes (lined with parchment paper). I then used this plastic wrap to cover the boxes which I liked because it was completely clear and didn’t take away from the main attraction—the cookies—at all. I tied each box with red and white baker’s twine and did a little note on each (the ones I used are here, from my favorite LA letterpress company). Unfortunately I finished these pretty late at night and forgot to take a picture, so I don’t have any final product shots but you get the idea!

  6. Feed them to your hungry co-interns. Or neighbors. Or friends. Or whoever! Nothing says “You’re the best” quite like a box of homemade cookies :)

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Homemade Peeps

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Happy Easter! These little chicks from Dominique Ansel's recipe book have been on my Things-to-Bake list for years and I finally got around them! It involved investing in an egg topper, which is actually one of the coolest kitchen tools I know own (and seriously addicting to use). These are a little labor intensive and I actually messed them up the first time by not filling them with the warm homemade marshmallow fast enough, but the results are worth it! They are super fun to eat and were a big hit at as our Easter dinner dessert. Peeps are my Papa's favorite Easter candy and I wanted to make them for him as a special treat since he has been in and out of the hospital lately. 

Salted Caramel "Yolk"

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream            
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup            
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar            
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar            
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel      

Honey Marshmallow

  • 4 tsp powdered gelatin        
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water                    
  • 1 cup granulated sugar            
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup            
  • 2 tbsp honey                        
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp water   

Additional Tools & Ingredients 

  • 18 eggs 
  • yellow sanding sugar
  • egg topper
  • candy thermometer 
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 piping bags
  • one ~1/4th inch round piping tip 
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • optional: egg carton, egg cups, egg spoons 

Instructions:

Start by using your egg topper to cut the egg top off. This takes some practice, and the amount of strength you have to use depends on your egg topper. Definitely plan to have several mess-ups. Save your eggs in an airtight container for another recipe or plan to have scrambled eggs for dinner the rest of the week. After you remove the egg, rinse the egg under warm water and remove the membrane. You can do this by rubbing your finger on the inside of the eggshell until you feel it start to peel (see below). 

Also, save a couple of the egg tops as little "hats" for a couple of the chicks! Make sure you remove the membrane from these as well. Once you have washed all the membranes out let them dry in the egg crate. Lastly, add a small amount of nonstick cooking spray to each egg, making sure you don't spray the outside. It is easiest if you spray a bit on your finger and just rub it on the inside. 

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Next, make your salty caramel! Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and heavy cream in a bowl. In a saucepan on medium heat, sprinkle a thin, even layer of granulated sugar. As the sugar melts and caramelizes, slowly whisk in the rest of the sugar, one small handful at a time, until the sugar has been added. The sugar will caramelize and turn an amber color. When this happens. Add a 1/4th cup of the cream mixture to the pan, whisking with fervor as you add it. It will hiss but keep whisking! Add the rest of the cream mixture in 2 parts, whisking well each time. 

After the cream mixture has been added. 

After the cream mixture has been added. 

Turn up the heat and continue to whisk caramel, incorporating any sugar clumps that may have formed. Continue to whisk until the caramel reaches 221 degrees F. 

Continue to whisk until 221 degrees F. 

Continue to whisk until 221 degrees F. 

Pour hot caramel into a glass container and place in fridge to cool. Once it is thickened and cooled (an hour or so in the fridge) transfer it to a piping bag. You can use a round tip if you want, but I didn't and just clipped the tip of the bag. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use. 

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For the sanding sugar, you can buy it or make your own. I couldn't find a yellow that was a true "Peeps" yellow--they were all too orange, so I made my own! Just take plain white sugar and add a couple drops of gel yellow food coloring. Mix well with a fork. 

Last, make the marshmallow. Start by blooming the gelatin. Take 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl. Slowly sprinkle the 4 teaspoons of gelatin on top of the water, making sure that it doesn't clump. Let it sit for 20 minutes, allowing the gelatin to absorb the water. 

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While you are waiting, combine honey, sugar, 1/4th cup + 1/2 teaspoon water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. On medium heat, allow the mixture to heat up without stirring. Once it starts bubbling, add a candy thermometer. You want it to reach 248 degrees F. While you are waiting, get your mixing bowl ready to go because as soon as it hits 248 you have to remove it from heat immediately and pour it into the mixing bowl. You can do this with a hand mixer, but a stand mixer works better (I borrowed my mom's!). 

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When it reaches 248, pour the hot mixture into the bowl. Add the thick gelatin on top and give it a couple stirs. It will look very unappetizing, like dirty dishwater, but it will turn into marshmallow! Let the mixture cool for 3 minutes, then turn the mixer on low speed, turning up the speed ever minute or so. You will slowly see the mixture go from clear to foamy to white. It will triple in volume and start to stiffen. You won't ever get "stiff peaks" like you do with meringue, but you want it to get to the point that it can hold a hershey kiss shape. Once it gets to this point (see photo below) you have to work FAST. Scoop all the marshmallow into the large piping bag fitted with the 1/4th inch round tip.

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Working as fast as you can, pipe a tablespoon of piping into an eggshell. Pipe a dollop of caramel on top, followed by marshmallow until the eggshell is just overflowing. Add a "kiss" of marshmallow on top to form the chick head. Quickly transfer the egg to the bowl of yellow sugar, pouring the sugar on top to hit every nook and cranny. Repeat for the remaining eggshells. The marshmallow starts to harden as it cools, and so you have to go as fast as you can! The first time I tried making these I wasn't fast enough and the marshmallow cooled to much and wasn't pipe-able anymore. I was so disappointed! 

For the eyes, melt your chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave. Transfer to your last piping bag, and make a tiny cut at the tip of the bag. Pipe two small eyes onto each chick. I actually thought this was the hardest part because it is hard to control piping onto a granular surface. A couple of my chicks looked a little drunk! Clean up any excess sugar that got on the eggshell with a damp paper towel. Chicks can be eaten immediately or stored in the fridge for 2 days. 

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Hope everyone had a great Easter! Thanks for reading. 

Xx