Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Paula Deen + Ina Paarman + Hardspear's Kitchen = Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

Paula Deen is big in the USA and especially known for her hearty comforting Southern Cooking. Ina Paarman is the Queen, Diva and Doyenne of South African Cooking. Both these Ladies are Serious Business Women as well and have created veritable food empires in their respective countries.
Throw Oprah Winfrey and J. Hardspear de la Azotea in the mix and you have a winning recipe. I was watching an Oprah show on how a boy overcame the sorrow of his twin brother dying of cancer by starting a home business baking cookies and the story really touched me. Oprah asked the boy what his favourite cookies is and he replied without hesitation - Paula Deen's Gooey Chocolate Butter Cookies. In true Oprah style, she then produced Paula Deen with a flourish. The look of surprise, adoration, excitement and emotion on the boy's face caused me to choke and tear up.
The very next day I went on Paula Deen's website and obtained the recipe for the cookies. People who read my blog will know that I am a proponent of the slow food movement and making things from scratch with fresh ingredients. Now... it is impossible not to be seduced sometimes by the Americans and their easy and effortless way of doing things. Paula Deen's recipe is a stellar example of this. I had to adjust the measurements to suit the products available in SA though, and because Mrs. Paarman is known for the quality of her products, she was the natural choice. So here then the best chocolate cookies I have ever had.
Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
Makes two dozen.
1x teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
Icing sugar, for dusting
1x 600 g box Ina Paarman chocolate cake mix
1x 250 g block (NOT TUB) Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
2x eggs
125 g butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 180˚C. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Mix in the cake mix with a wooden spoon. This takes some elbow grease. At first the mixture will look crumbly, but keep on mixing till it combines nicely into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the cookie dough into 2 long sausages. Slice each sausage into 12 equal sized medallions. Form into balls and then roll them in icing sugar. Use 2 ungreased baking sheets and arrange 12 cookies on each, taking care to leave spaces between the cookies. Bake 11 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and gooey. Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Do not be tempted to eat straight from the oven – they are really much better cooled down. I’ve found they are best if kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Don’t over bake. These are not biscuits as we South Africans are used to – It is an American Style Cookie.
(photo from Paula Deen's website)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Angel and Glugster – Blogger Wedding of the Century!

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea WAS THERE! My wife Lamb was ill and couldn’t attend with me, which placed a little damper on my spirits. When you are married for 12 years you definitely miss your partner when you go to a wedding alone. Nevertheless... Angel and Glugster’s wedding was sooooo special. It was one of the most beautiful and special weddings I have been to. (Not to mention a little weird with a large portion of the guests representing the SA Blogoshpere and Twitterverse.) Angel looked breathtakingly beautiful. She has extraordinary facial features and her striking personality shines as bright as the brightest stars through her eyes. Glugster, that handsome big chunk of a hunk beamed at her side all the way. The ceremony was singular and unique. The Priest addressed Glugster in Afrikaans and Angel in English. His message was heartfelt, sincere, humorous and very practical. His message was directed primarily at the couple, but certainly at the guests as well. After the ceremony, we had cocktails and – of course – the most delectable cupcakes. I met so many other bloggers for the first time in person. People I know in cyberspace. Particularly special was Sweets (Sweetass RSA), one of my first online friends and Tamara (Doodles of a Journo). Sweets and I connected immediately and Tamara and her husband TSC must be some of the nicest, sincere, interesting and beautiful people I have ever met. I also connected really well with SleepyJane and her (husband? boyfriend?), and I was really pleased to meet EXMI, another blogger I like to read. Yes! Even Sheena (If these walls could talk) was there. Her blog counts amongst the funniest I know of. There were so many more, I wish I could remember everyone! To top it all, the venue was beautiful and the food great. It was a privilege to be a part!