Cookie Balls

You know those times when you do something disastrously wrong, and everything turns out miraculously right?

Welcome to my world! My kitchen, to be more precise. These cookie balls are the offspring of precisely that odd, paradoxical paradigm:

I literally could not keep these safe from all the grabby hands.

I passed out about a quarter of them at our book club yesterday with my fingers crossed and they were instantly gobbled up. Just vanished. Even Harry’s Invisibility Cloak would have been jealous of just how vanished they were.

At that point, I was thinking to myself that could have been a blip. After all, these were a mistake recipe, right? I’d make them up on the fly because I had dried-out blondies (story to follow!) and nothing to do with them except sit, close my eyes, and pray that they wouldn’t fatally injure somebody if they were thrown (they were, at this point, pretty near rock hard).

When I passed them out this morning, though, it became clear pretty quickly that I hadn’t been mistaken. Am I not making myself intelligible? Let’s see how I can put it:

It was sort of like being in the middle of the battledome from The Hunger Games.

The kids ate them so fast I barely had time to blink and then lunged at the leftovers. It took nothing less than all the prowess, effort, and cunning of a brand new middle-school instructor–which is, I have to admit, more than I ever thought it would be!–to fend them off from the two cookie balls that happened to be left over. I was pleased. Scared, yes, but pleased nonetheless. And all this over a perfectly innocent “mistake.” I don’t think I’ve ever had such a, well, strong reaction  to my baking before!

So what’s the deal behind these cookie balls anyway, you ask? Well, let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time, there was an oven that had the temper of a 3-year old but all the heat, fire, and life-ruining capacity of a deadly bulldog. As each day passed, this oven would grow more and more discontent with its duty heating things up and cooking them through. “Drudgery, drudgery, and fiddlesticks!” it cried every time someone turned it on.

One day, the master of the oven turned it on to preheat while she was making some delicious, wonderful blondies. But today was not the oven’s good day. In fact, it was a very bad day, for the oven felt very used at the moment–it had been used the day before, used the day before that, and probably (although nobody was keeping track) the day before that. And being used by people is never quite a good feeling, especially when you don’t get anything in return except maybe some dirty singe marks and cookie crumbs.

So the oven decided it had had enough. And when the master put the blondies into the oven, it declared to itself in a silent roar of inferno, “You want heat? Fine–I’ll give you heat!”

So that when the poor, unsuspecting master pulled the blondies out of the oven a full 10 minutes before cooking time had finished to check them, they were already dry to the core.

“Ha, ha, ha!” the flaming oven chortled. “How do you like that? Use me, will you? Well, I think not!”

And so the poor master was left to deal with an entire panful of dried-out cookie bars, and even to this day, the temperamental oven can’t control its temperature.

The end.

Fortunately–although it has not been recorded by the scribes of yore–this story does have a happy ending, which you’ve already heard. The oven-master ended up crumbling up the blondies, making a wonderful cream cheese frosting (leftover from the carrot cake!), and blending the whole thing together to make cookie balls. Then she popped the whole pan in the freezer, waited patiently, melted chocolate the next day, and dipped them all and decorated them into wonderful chocolate-covered cookie balls, as you see here:

So there you have it. It’s the story of the wicked temperamental oven, and the master’s eventual triumph over it. Want to see the recipe for the fruits of this long, laborious victory? You can have that, too.

Cookie Balls

Recipe for Cookie/Blondies:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
 Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired. Set aside.
  3. Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and mix well. Allow mixture to cool slightly, then mix in the beaten egg and vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes (or less, if you have an extremely temperamental oven like mine–but it’s okay if your cookie bars get dry if you’re making the cookie balls).
How to Make and Assemble Your Cookie Balls:
Ingredients
  • 1.5 – 2 cups prepared frosting (for a wonderful homemade cream cheese frosting recipe, see the Carrot Cake entry)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • White chocolate, sprinkles, or other decorations
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, crumble your cooled cookie bars until they are all fine crumbs.
  2. With your hands, mix in the frosting until all of the crumbs are completely coated. (This will get messy, so make sure you’re next to a sink!)
  3. Form 1-inch round balls and place them on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Place baking sheet in freezer, and allow cookie balls to firm up for at least an hour. (The longer you freeze them, the less likely they will be to crumble when you’re dipping them!)
  4. When cookie balls have been thoroughly frozen, place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat them on medium power for 30 seconds, them give them a quick stir. Continue microwaving the chocolate at 15-second intervals on medium power until the chips are almost melted, then stir the chocolate until all of the chips have dissolved. (Be careful not to wait until the chips have completely melted on their own, otherwise your chocolate might seize!) You might want to melt the chocolate in smaller batches to avoid uneven melting.
  5. Quickly dip each frozen cookie ball into the melted chocolate and coat it completely using either your hands or a spoon. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into bowl, then place the dipped cookie ball onto parchment paper. Decorate as desired. (I used sprinkled and melted white chocolate.) When you have finished dipping and decorating each cookie ball, put the tray back into the fridge and allow them to set. Then get ready to serve them and astound your guests!
LESSON PLAN 
Clear Your Thoughts Exercise

 Is it fun reading something that you can’t understand at all? Of course not.

It’s important when you’re writing to be as clear and concise as possible. Rewrite the following passage so that it is easily understandable! Think about words that you can cut out or that make each sentence difficult to understand. Choose your words carefully, and remember to use words that you know. You can even split a sentence into multiple sentences if it will make your ideas clearer. For an added challenge, try writing the passage in the active voice!

For tips on how to make your writing clear, refer to “A Quick Guide to Revising Your Essays and Personal Statements” handout.

Ready? Go!

HOW TO MAKE CAKE BALLS

Cake balls are a type of dessert that utilizes only a few ingredients, three of which are as follows: frosting, cake that has been prepared, and chocolate that you have to melt.

[Insert lines after each sentence for your student to fill out their responses.]

The first thing that one would be required to do is to prepare the cake. This can be done in the usual and typical manner: take hold of a box of cake mix and simply follow the instructions as instructed, at which point you will have a fully baked cake.

As a consequence, after the cake has been properly cooled to the temperature of the room, one will need to crumble it into a bowl of large size.

After this action has been performed, one should take a can of frosting that has been made in the store and use a spoon to scoop it into the bowl with the cake that has been crumbled earlier.

When both of the aforementioned ingredients have been combined together to a moist consistency in the large-sized bowl, the baker needs to use their hands to roll small 1-inch round balls and place it on top of a sheet that is traditionally used for baking.

After all of this—the cake baking, the mixing of the frosting, and the making of the rounded cake balls—has been done, proceed to do the following action: place the entire baking tray into the freezer for approximately about one hour.

In a bowl that can be safely put into the microwave, place chocolate chips in the bowl and then proceed to place the bowl in the microwave; then you can heat the bowl for 30 seconds; then you can take it out and stir the chocolate until it is fully melted; if it is not melted yet you can also then put it back in the microwave until it is melted.

Finally, one can take the frozen cake balls out from the freezer where they were stored and dip them in the chocolate, after which one should place them on a sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet; and then one can let the cake balls cool and put them in the refrigerator and after this the cake balls will be done.

When you’re done, answer the following questions:

1. What made this paragraph difficult to understand? Please list at least 3 or 4 examples of this writer’s flaws.

#1:

#2:

#3:

#4:

2. How did you correct or improve each of these flaws?

#1:

#2:

#3:

#4:

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