Friday, July 20, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

As I have alluded to in previous posts, we have been watching an awful lot of Winnie-the-Pooh around here. Being Matthew's favorite cartoon character to date, when it comes time for an evening family movie, his choice is undoubtedly one of the four Winnie-the-Pooh VHS tapes that we have in our collection (yes, we are still the proud owners of a perfectly working VHS player!). Paul and I are so incredibly sick of the adventures of the "bear with very little brain." We can recite every single line from every single movie. When I wake up in the morning and am washing my hair in the shower, I find myself humming various catchy songs from the movies. One time, while Paul and I were outside weeding the lawn, we realized that we were both singing the same lyric under our breaths:

Bears love honey and I'm a Pooh bear
Yum Yum Yum Yum
Time for something sweet

If you are unfamiliar with those lyrics, I suggest you get thee to a movie store and pick-up a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree. Fun times ahead for you!

Actually, it was while watching Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree that Paul and I had a sudden realization. Perhaps unknowingly, Walt Disney was portraying a very serious case of addiction in his film. The pure, utter, shameless, undeniable addiction of one fat bear to his honey. Winnie-the-Pooh will stop at nothing to ensure that his pot is filled with the sweet sticky goodness, even risking his own health and friendships.

Psychologists have pinpointed several common behavioral patterns of addiction. For one, addicts will go to extreme lengths to obtain the object of their desire. Pooh was willing to steal honey from a nearby beehive located high above the ground in an oak tree...risking hundreds of painful bee stings and a potential plunge to the ground (I am still unsure as to whether or not a bear "stuffed with fluff" would in fact perish if such an event were to occur!).

Second, addicts often use their friends and relatives to help them obtain their "fix." Winnie-the-Pooh asks Christopher Robin to help him get his honey by using his balloon as a second attempt to reach the hive while simultaneously requesting that Christopher Robin aid him in his charade by convincing the bees that Pooh is in fact a rain cloud and not a honey-thieving bear. When this charade fails to work, the bees angrily charge both Pooh and Christopher Robin. Did Pooh consider the potential danger to his friend's life when enlisting him to help with his honey quest? What if Christopher Robin had gone into anaphylactic shock from numerous bee stings? We would have had a very different tale, that's for sure. But Pooh was not thinking about that...not one bit...he was only concerned with his rumbly tummy (or his desire for a "honey fix").

Third, addicts will often consume the object of their desire in large, unhealthy quantities without consideration of potential long-term effects on their relationships or health. Pooh Bear obviously has quite a little bit of fluff accumulated in his belly. ;I am not sure exactly what the anatomical makeup of a bear stuffed with fluff is, but most creatures have many vital organs located in the center of their bodies, meaning that Pooh Bear might only have a few, honey-filled years left to live. Pooh Bear is often referred to as "a bear with very little brain." Could his lack of brain matter have something to do with the massive quantity of honey he consumes? I imagine he is also a diabetic, having killed off his pancreas years before with a diet consisting solely of liquid sugar. Maybe he should join Paula Deen on her new mission to eat healthier. Also, when Pooh finally finds some honey at his dear friend Rabbit's home, he eats all the honey in Rabbit's possession which causes his belly to quadruple in size. This obviously does not go over well when Pooh tries to leave Rabbit's abode and becomes wedged in the entrance, unable to move in or out. Thus, he is forced to to go on a starvation diet in order to slim back down to a size that will allow him to be freed from his self-inflicted imprisonment. And as soon as he is free, where does he end up? With his head stuck in a beehive, eating a massive amount of honey. And so the vicious cycle begins anew.

Obviously, we have to entertain ourselves somehow while being forced to watch this film for the sixtieth time this month. Might as well analyze the heck out of it.

Can you guess what movie is playing in the background as I type this post?

Even though it has been wicked hot outside, I have kept up with my baking routine. I love experimenting with different cookie combinations and when I came across a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies, I knew I had to give it a shot. Plus, Paul is absolutely in love with the orange-vanilla combination, so I knew that these would probably go over well with him.

These cookies were, like most cookie recipes, a breeze to whip up, the most time consuming part being the zesting of the orange. These made the house smell DIVINE! And the taste? Sweet, soft, rich cookies that completely capture the essence of those frozen ice cream bars I remember loving so much as a kid. You will not be disappointed with these! Although a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie will always have my heart, these cookies definitely come in a close second!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
adapted very slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, silpat liners or lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg, vanilla, orange extract and orange zest until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and white chocolate chips, mixing until combined.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges, taking care not to overbake. The cookies should be rounded and full, not flattened. Let cookies cool for about 2 minutes on the baking sheet, and then remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

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