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Last Call: Don’t kill your darlings. Frost them instead.

Once you’ve iced your cupcakes, chances are you’ll still have at least a cup of leftover icing.
Once you’ve iced your cupcakes, chances are you’ll still have at least a cup of leftover icing.
Photo: Carly Guss (Getty Images)
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There’s a reason I’m not more of a dessert innovator, and it’s not due to my dogged determination to follow recipes to the letter or my lack of creativity in the kitchen. I love to bake, and I love putting my own spin on things—but I have a hatred of wasting ingredients that borders on a phobia, and as such, I never make tweaks to a recipe that have any chance of resulting in something less than a slam dunk. The emotional fallout of knowing just how much butter and flour I wasted on a failed batch of anything is too high a price for the mild thrill of experimentation.

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When I do make cookies that turn out to be a pan full of duds, those little failures go right into the freezer. From there, they might serve any number of uses. For example, when I made a batch of Aggression Cookies back in May, I knew I wasn’t about to eat them straight. They had ended up a little flat and lifeless—no doubt due to insufficient aggression—and I’m not much of an oatmeal cookie enthusiast anyway. So into the freezer they went, and since then they’ve been crumbled on top of frozen yogurt, served as the “bread” for ice cream sandwiches, and even blended into an indulgent weekend smoothie. (The latter is not highly recommended; I was going for a “DQ Blizzard mix-ins, but for breakfast” sort of thing, and it resulted only in unpleasant, unidentifiable chunkiness.)

Recently, I’ve found another use for the freezer-bound duds. I was making homemade Pop-Tarts and ran into the single most common problem with any recipe involving homemade icing: there’s too much goddamn icing. Even if you like your cookies smothered in extra extra extra icing, these recipes always yield so much more than you need, and again, it feels like a waste to throw it away. Rather than trying to store the extra powdered sugar glaze under ideal conditions until my next baking project, I simply went rooting around my freezer full of failures to see if anything fits the bill. Sure enough, my uninspiring oatmeal cookies turned out to be the perfect companion for that brown sugar icing, and the leftover glaze turned them into something I was actually excited to eat.

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It’s nearly Hump Day, and I wanted to power us all through the week with a note on how rewarding it can feel to be resourceful. But I guess what I’m really saying is, find every possible excuse to eat more frosted foods. Any kitchen accomplishments you’d like to brag about a little?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Tap-Dancin- Vaudeville Penguin

Damn, I love a shallow glaze icing. Cupcakes with a mountain of icing are pretty AF, but I always scrape enough off to leave just a “taste” of it. That’s all you really need. And, Marnie, I appreciate your Depression-Era kitchen conservatism. I can’t count how many times I have seen my sister eat a few bites from her plate, walk straight to the trash and throw out the rest. But then that’s how she treats the people in her life too.