I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Commit Random Acts of Sweetness

In a Nestle ad I read recently, the (condensed) text said:

"The thing is, there is something about the act of baking for someone - a family member, friend, workmate, the Dalai Lama, anybody really - that gives you, the giver, an incredible buzz, especially when it's done for no particular reason. Whether it's your humble choccy cupccake or some oooh-look-at-me triplet chocolate torte, it's not about the degree of difficulty; you won't lose any marks for technical merit or artistic impression. It's the simple fact of having made it yourself that gives it the piece of cake de resistance, because the most essential ingredients are your thoughtfulness and spontenaity: your mojo. The real beauty of this - the icing on the cupcake, if you like - is that the sweetness rubs off. It's way more contagious than mumps, and encourages others to be sweet. To help a stranger. To bake caramel banana muffins for a homeless shelter. To lay down arms. It starts with the high (not to be confused with anything illegal) you get from your own efforts, followed by the rush of euphoria felt by the lucky recipient of your random act. And then, after receiving this wondrous gift, this Act of Sweetness, chances are your friend will be inspired to commit them too. ....Before you know it, the sweetness spreads, each random act inspiring another in a slowly expanding, chocolatey wave that could eventually circle the globe. And wherever sweetness grows, violence diminishes. Anger dissipates. Bridges are built. The world becomes a better place. Paris Hilton might even get a job. Anything's possible....so don't just sit there. Bake something. Your kitchen - and the world - needs you."

I didn't write this gorgeous bit of copy, but I wish I did. It's like a pastry pay-it-forward mantra. It's says (better than I could, I'm sure) why I love the act of baking and cooking - it's that fabulous feeling of self-satisfaction, that you and your hands made something which will improve the world in some small way. As a way of committing a random act of kindness on a somewhat global scale, each week I'm going to blog one of my most favourite, well used and adored, baking recipes for you to try. Make a double batch - one for you, one to give to someone else. As the ad says, go on, the world could use a bit more sweetness.

100g butter
1 T golden syrup (in the US, molasses or maple syrup is a nice substitute)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda (AKA bicarbonate of soda)

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the golden syrup. Take off the heat and beat in the sugar and egg using a stirrer or wooden spoon. Add sieved dry ingredients into the pot and stir to mix (it will come away from the sides and be heavy to stir, much like a bread dough.) Arrange small balls of dough onto a line baking sheet, leaving room for spreading. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a rack. They will 'collapse' upon cooling - this is fine! Store in an airtight container, but only if you manage not to eat them first!


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