Last Saturday, I spent all day making a 50 gallon batch of Brunswick stew. For those of you unfamiliar with this southern tradition, a Brunswick stew is a hearty tomato-based stew made with chicken, Lima (butter) beans, corn, and potatoes. It is slow cooked in large batches for up to 8 hours before it’s ready to package and eat. The 50 gallons we cooked made 158 quarts, which we sold as part of a fundraiser at work. I had the time of my life standing out in the cold, beer in hand, huddled close to the pot to keep warm.
The trick to Brunswick stew is stirring constantly. The stew is so thick that if not stirred for the entire cooking process (12 hours from start to finish!) all the heavy meat and potatoes will sink to the bottom and burn! So there we stood, taking turns using the oar-like paddle to stir the pot constantly for the better part of 8 hours. And do you know how to tell when a stew is ready? It’s so thick that the paddle stands up on its own without falling over!
While we had a few volunteers from work come out to help make stew, the majority of those helping were family members of my host and coworker. Not only did we make the stew on their property and with their guidance, but they were there to help dice 70 pounds of potatoes, debone 16 whole chickens, stir the pot for 8 hours in the cold and wind, and hand-ladle 50 gallons of stew into 160 individual containers. I was so grateful to all of them, because I knew they were essential to the success of this event. I had to thank them all somehow! And the only way I know how to say “thank you” is with a big batch of fresh baked cookies.
Of course after 12 hours of work to make this stew, I was exhausted for the rest of the weekend. My usual zest and excitement for baking was pretty well dampened by all the cooking I had done the previous day. But I knew I wanted to bring some cookies into work on Monday, so my host could deliver them to his family as a thank-you from me. So I pulled out one of my favorite, easy-peasy cookie recipes.
I found this recipe about a year ago on a blog called Cookies & Cups, and fell in love with how simple these cookies are to make! Now normally, I would call these cookies “cheating,” because they use a boxed cake mix. But, to be honest, everyone needs a few quick-and-easy recipes in their repertoire.
Before beginning this recipe, make sure that you have softened your butter and cream cheese, as well as brought your egg to room temperature.
Now, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine your block of cream cheese and stick of butter, and cream until they are light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add in the egg and mix until just combined. Dump your Funfetti cake mix in, and mix until well incorporated. Then, using a low speed or by hand mixing with a spatula, add in the extra sprinkles.
Place some plastic wrap tightly over the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350° F. Pour about ¼ cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Remove the bowl from the fridge, and use a medium ice cream scoop to form the dough into balls. I use my hands to round the balls a bit, then dunk them in the powdered sugar. Roll them around to make sure they are well coated, and then tap lightly to knock off any excess back into the bowl.
Place the dough balls onto the baking sheets, about 2” apart. Do NOT press them down at all, they will flatten out a bit as they bake. Once the baking sheets are filled, place them into the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want the edges to brown at all.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before packaging (these cookies are very gooey, and if you try to move them while they are still hot, you’ll end up with a sticky spatula and a bunch of mashed cookies! I always take my silpats off of my baking sheets right after they come out of the oven and move them to a wire rack to cool. This way the cookies aren’t disturbed, they cool faster, and my baking sheets are freed up for a second batch, if necessary.
I love these cookies because they are extra soft and chewy (just like cake batter!) and remain that way even a few days after baking. They are simple to make and require very little cleanup – perfect for a very tired chef!
- 8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 box Funfetti cake mix
- ½ cup sprinkles
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined.
- Add the cake mix and mix until well combined. Then, using a low speed or by hand-mixing with a spatula, fold in the extra sprinkles.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Place powdered sugar into a small bowl.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, and use a medium ice cream scoop to form the dough into consistent-sized scoops. Use your hands to roll the dough into balls, then coat in powdered sugar. Tap the dough balls to remove any excess powdered sugar, then place on the mats about 2” apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
- After baking, allow the cookies to cool completely before attempting to remove them from silpats or parchment paper. Cookies will be soft and gooey, be sure to handle with care!