Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I baked a watermelon

That was the summer of 1987 – when my siblings called me “bossy,” and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before Windows 2.0, before Nirvana cut their first album, when I actually looked forward to high school, and I thought I’d never find a guy, period. That was the summer of “Dirty Dancing.”

I was not planning on cooking anything new today. For that matter, I wasn’t planning on cooking at all, counting on my husband to handle taco night. Nay, I planned to steer clear of the kitchen and put copious amounts of Mederma on the oil burns from yesterday.

But then news broke that Patrick Swayze died, and my teenage self is mourning.

My requisite late ‘80s Swayze crush is a fond memory, and I wanted to do something in mild tribute to his passing, something besides popping “Dirty Dancing” into my DVD player (I know it’s not the sum total of his career, but it is the only one of his films I own). Then I remembered just how old some of my recipes are and decided to foray back into the kitchen armed with something from the ancient binder.

I quickly decided on “Wipeout ‘Watermelon’ Cookies,” a dressed-up refrigerator cookie. It’s one of the oldest untested recipes I have, clipped out of Seventeen magazine in, I’m fairly certain, the summer of 1987 –the same time “Dirty Dancing” was released. The movie features the classic line, “I carried a watermelon” and there is a dancing montage set to “Wipeout.”

I just as quickly remembered that one of the reasons I never made this recipe is it requires molding the dough in an empty 1-lb. shortening can. Such a thing doesn’t exist here; I rarely use shortening for anything more than tortillas or cleaning the cast iron skillet. We did have an empty 28-oz. tomato can … that just went out to the curb for recycling. And I could hear the dull clunking of the recycling truck up the street. So I darted out in my pj’s and grabbed the can out of the bin before the truck turned the corner.

I put butter on the counter to soften, put the DVD on to watch at the same time, and got working. I mamboed to the pantry, sashayed to the mixer and yelled out movie lines from time to time. The recipe (see post below) was fairly straightforward, although experienced-cook me made some changes that 14-year-old me wouldn’t have considered. For instance, I creamed the butter and sugar together before adding the eggs to avoid overbeating. The recipe calls for coconut extract, which I’ve never used before, so I subbed in almond.

Ironically, while I was working on the last stage of the dough – tinting some of it red – the “Wipeout” scene came on. Truly, a sign these cookies were meant to be. I set the dough to chill, watched the rest of the movie, cried (again), and puttered off to do other things for a while.

What makes these watermelon cookies is that you roll the red dough in the white dough, roll that in some green sugar, slice it up to look like pieces of watermelon and stick in some chocolate chips to look like seeds. Decorating it is kind of fun. They bake up pretty nicely, too.

VERDICT: Easy to make, look cool. But the taste was pretty bland. I have yet to find a really good, flavorful refrigerator cookie recipe. The kids, of course, loved them: “Wow, these cookies look like watermelons!” But they’re really mediocre. I’ll note the design element and look for a better cookie.


Shirley said...

They're so cute! I'm glad you took a pic. Was wondering where the food porn was.

Cherie said...

I have this recipe! I saved so many 1980s Seventeen magazine recipes, which I have in a binder. I posted a few on cookbookcherie.wordpress.com

Did you save any other Seventeen recipes or did you toss them? I'd love to know!

Leah said...

Cherie --
I do have many other Seventeen recipes, some that I will be testing out here and some that I can't believe I still have when I look at the ingredients.

I'll check out your site, I'd love to see if we have any duplicates!

-- L.

Cherie said...

Hey Leah! Don't suppose you kept a Seventeen mag recipe for chicken saltimbocca, did you? I think the recipe was part of an article on fresh herb gardens, because I have one for a carrot soup, but have lost the saltimbocca one! Drat!

Leah said...

Cherie -
Funny, I vaguely remember the article you're talking about. Alas, I don't have the saltimbocca recipe. I've got one for "Big Thyme Chicken," with a whopping five ingredients, but that's the closest I've got to fresh herbs in Seventeen. Sorry!

-- L.

Saucy Cherie said...

thanks for checking!