So I am looming on the verge of old age. Perhaps oddly, having read John Derbyshire's infamous musings on women ceasing to be attractive at the age of 20 and the PUA guys' oeuvre makes these last few days of my 20s seem less worth clinging to. Somewhere, there will be always be haters, as the kids say. Yet if I ever did wish to succumb to age-based self-loathing, I guess I can be drawn back from the brink based based on misadventures in being carded, which still occur frequently despite the whole tottering on the brink of third decade of life thing. Yes, I'm used to occasionally awkwardly rooting around in my purse before entering crowded bars in Adams-Morgan or having to produce ID on demand when buying wine at grocery stores. The Wegmans near my parents in Pennsylvania did once card 67-year-old Papa Archer, whom no reasonable person would mistake for a 20-year-old. But on the other hand, there are the places that don't routinely card that nonetheless ask me to fork over ID. Are there really lots of underage types ordering sangria at Jaleo,or Pinot Grigio with their organic pizza at Coppi's? Did they really need to ask me for ID?
But the upside of old age is that it presents a wonderful opportunity to throw a combined birthday/holiday party for oneself. This year, Pnin and I had a 2011-year-in-review theme, with dishes paying tribute to each of the major presidential candidates. More pictures and recipes will follow, but in the meantime, here is a recipe for Hermain Cain 9-9-9 cookies, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated:
Butter Cookie Dough
2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
3/4cup superfine sugar (5 1/2 ounces) (see note)
1/4teaspoon table salt
16tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature (about 65 degrees)
2teaspoons vanilla extract
2tablespoons cream cheese , at room temperature
1tablespoon cream cheese , at room temperature
1 1/2cups confectioners' sugar (6 ounces)
1. FOR THE COOKIES: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.
2. Remove bowl from mixer; knead dough by hand in bowl for 2 to 3 turns to form large cohesive mass. Turn out dough onto countertop; divide in half, pat into two 4-inch disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks; defrost in refrigerator before using.)
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 dough disk to even 1/8-inch thickness between 2 large sheets parchment paper; slide rolled dough on parchment onto baking sheet and chill until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with second disk.
4. Working with first portion of rolled dough, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter(s) and place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Repeat with second portion of rolled dough. (Dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and re-rolled once.) Cool cookies on wire rack to room temperature.
5. FOR THE GLAZE: Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons milk in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining milk as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily. Drizzle or spread scant teaspoon glaze with back of spoon onto each cooled cookie, as desired.