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Christmas Road Trip (with Bittersweet Orange Cookies)

On December 22nd, Scott and I loaded our car with packages, overnight bags, half the contents of our refrigerator, and Thunder.  We set off on a ten-hour trip to Virginia in the pouring rain.  About half an hour in, we had this conversation.


Scott:  Yes, you do.  You have a tie for your dad. . . and a book. . . and a gift certificate for your brother, and . . . and I’m sure there’s something around here for your mom.

Me:  Yeah, like a half a tub of sour cream.  Or maybe she’d like an opened container of salsa.

Scott:  So that’s why it smells like huevos rancheros in here.

Me:  Yeah, we have eight eggs in a container under the seat.  I boiled them for lunch because they were going to go bad.

Scott:  Hmm.

Me:  But maybe I should save them and give them to my mom for Christmas.  What can you make out of hard-boiled eggs?  An eggshell necklace, maybe?  Give me your pens.  I am going to draw little sayings on the eggs.  Do you have any glue?

Scott:  No glue.  Not stopping for glue.

Me:  We should stop for glue.  We should stop in Scottsboro.

Scott:  The only thing in Scottsboro is the unclaimed luggage center.

Me: Unclaimed WHAT?

Scott: Unclaimed luggage center.  It’s where the airlines sell the stuff from lost and unclaimed baggage.

Me: Like, they’d sell it to ME?

Scott:  Theoretically, if we stopped there, yes.  If we were not already on a ten-hour trip that WE JUST STARTED.


Scott:  Save it from what? Christmas is fine.

Me:  Christmas is not fine. Christmas is about to be a necklace made out of eggs that say I LOVE YOU written on them in red.  And sometimes just “YOU” because the rest didn’t fit.

Scott:  What the. . . what?  What did you do to the eggs?  They look . . stalkerish.  And why are there egg shells in your lap?

Me:  Because I ate two just now.  In protest.  I am protesting your refusal to save Christmas.

Scott: [rolling down the window]  Oh my God.

An hour later, in the parking lot of the unclaimed luggage center:

Me:  I got her a karaoke machine.

Scott:  What?  Why?  Does it even work?

Me:  It has to.  I mean, who would fly with a broken karaoke machine, right?  Why go to the trouble?

Scott:  Um. . . right.

Me:  And I think I just saw a bathing suit of mine that U.S. Airways lost in the summer of 1998.

Scott:  Tell me right now that you didn’t buy a used bathing suit from a secondhand store in rural Alabama.

Me:  I didn’t.  But maybe I should. . . I mean, it’s my bathing suit.


Me:  Okay, okay.  I can drive.  Not far from here there’s this pla–


And that is how Christmas was saved.  And how the airline industry’s incompetence was used for good, for once.

Do you know how I got him to stop at the unclaimed luggage center?

It was a combination of (a) pointing at a weird billboard while jerking the wheel toward the exit, and (b) threatening to withhold these cookies, which were the only things in the car that smelled delicious.

They are orange cookies with bittersweet chocolate chunks.  We threw coconut in some of them, and marshmallow in others.  The marshmallow ones went undocumented because we ate them, and they were fabulous.  The marhsmallow didn’t get hard– it stayed gooey in little pockets of air inside the cookie.

I love these cookies.  They’re like the best chocolate chip cookies I based them on, but with a fancy twist.  I think it’s dissolving the baking soda in water that does it.

Bittersweet Orange, Coconut & Chocolate Cookies


1 c. butter (softened)

1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 tsp.  orange extract

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. hot water

1/2 tsp. salt

3 c. flour

2 oranges’ worth of grated orange peel

1 10-oz. package of 60% cacao chocolate chips (Ghiradelli brand)

(Optional) 1 c. shredded coconut

(Optional) mini marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grate the orange peel of the two oranges and set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar together.  Beat the eggs in one at a time.  Add vanilla, orange extract and grated orange peel.  Once blended, turn off mixer.

Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add to the mixer along with the salt.  Blend until combined.   Beat in the flour.

Stir in the chocolate chips and, if desired, the coconut.

If not adding marshmallows:  Drop the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are browned.

If adding marshmallows:  Stick 4 mini marshmallows in each cookie, poking the marshmallows in and shaping the dough into a ball so that the marshmallow is not exposed when you drop the cookie on the sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are browned.

My mom's 2-year-old lab, Maggie.

Happy Holidays, everyone!
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21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Those cookies sound delicious! I may start taking boiled eggs on roadtrips so I can threaten to deploy their egg-y smell if I don’t get my way. 🙂

    December 26, 2011
    • I fully support this! Bring some salt and pepper, too? In case you DO get your way, and you ALSO get to eat hard-boiled eggs. Win, win, right?

      December 29, 2011
  2. April was in CT now CA #

    In a word: YUM. Can’t wait to give these a try! I agree with NerdGirl, the eggs are a brilliant tactic.

    December 26, 2011
    • April, I think they are so good. Let me know how they work out for you (both in taste and effectiveness 🙂

      December 29, 2011
  3. My mom used to pack tangerines and hard-boiled eggs as road trip food when I was little. Until it was a two-car trip and I rode in the backseat of the first car with friends and spent the first hour waving from the rear window at my mother in the second car. My tangerines and eggs made a violent reappearance and we never had them as road trip food again. 😦

    Love the orange chocolate cookies but I missed Thunder. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas in Virginia!

    December 27, 2011
    • Ha! I love it. That’s a memorable combination, tangerines and eggs. I lost a bunch of good pictures when I was uploading them (I was going to post about a delicious carrot soup, for example. Alas.) and it’s been hard to get more pictures of Thunder because she’s never in focus and awake at the same time these days. When she’s hanging out with Maggie, she is ALWAYS running around or passed out. Kind of like all of us around the holidays, I suppose. . . I hope you had a good Christmas too!

      December 29, 2011
  4. One day you will take a road trip to the Cat Farm. We really like eggshell art here. Also, it is clear that 2.0 and Scott have a shared passion for questioning GENIUS. So they could bugger off whilst we look for other stuff you lost in 1998.

    December 27, 2011
    • Done. You could teach me how to scoot and how to use the slow cooker I just took from my parents. How many hard boiled eggs do you think I’d need to bring on a car trip to Canada? I’m thinking three dozen, give or take.

      December 29, 2011
  5. So glad Christmas was saved. I once peeled my boiled egg at work. Someone asked what the smell was. I played dumb, accused the dwer vents. Maintenance was called and it was all a fiasco. I had to go flush my shells to get rid of evidence. Talk about stressful day. (relative scale obv…)

    December 27, 2011
    • Oh, man. That sounds awful. When I was a little kid, I played with shaving cream and I knew I wasn’t allowed to. I tried to flush it, but it just wouldn’t disappear. I remember standing horrified over the toilet, like “WHY, shaving cream, WHY?”

      So I agree. Any day you have to flush evidence down the toilet is a stressful day, my friend.

      December 29, 2011
  6. You can buy stuff from unclaimed luggage centers? It sounds promising but with airlines as they are now, I doubt you find some really good deals?

    December 27, 2011
    • Keith, lots of things there were ridiculously expensive. DVDs were FIFTEEN DOLLARS. And there were things there that I simply could not believe had been lost on an airplane. Like seven matching bridesmaids’ dresses. Huh? Did they just walk down the aisle in jeans when the bag was lost? I have loads of questions for the people who run that place, but I don’t think I’m allowed to go back there for a while…

      December 29, 2011
  7. I just love how you saved Christmas! You gave the gift of SONG, for goodness sake. How can anyone get annoyed with that? I had to send my mom a note calling her a ho (not really) and promising jewelry at some unspecified later date (really).

    December 29, 2011
    • Ha! There’s no shame in the I.O.U., I tell myself (every Christmas). And thank you for the moral support on the karaoke machine– now I just need to read this 90-page booklet to figure out how it works. Only then will I be able to rock out to Midnight Train to Georgia, to the rest of the family’s enjoyment/horror.

      December 29, 2011
  8. Love this post, it cracked me up (can’t wait to read more!). Cookies look delicious. I like the idea of dissolving the baking soda in water (must try that). Your Mom’s dog is adorable!

    January 10, 2012
    • Hi there! After this recipe, I asked my friend Lily about the dissolving thing (she’s a pastry chef and was involved in the cocktail puffs post) and she said she always does that with baking soda when she bakes. I had no idea! Thanks for the kind words. And my mom will be pleased– her dog really is cute and puts up with A LOT of hassle from my puppy, Thunder, when we visit!

      January 10, 2012
  9. I’ve made these cookies three times now…they have been amazing each time. And the people I share them with (begrudgingly as I want to eat them all myself) always get that wide-eyed “OMG, I thought this was just another boring chocolate chip cookie but Jiminy Cricket these are so much better than that” look.

    P.S. I love your stories and your dog. If my cat gets wind of that last bit, I will deny, deny, deny.

    January 27, 2012
    • Jen, I am so glad! Aren’t they DELICIOUS? I really appreciate your writing to say so.

      We’re not sure how Thunder acts around cats. She’s only met two or three of them. She is curious and wants to play, but seems to back off when she starts to be a total pain the arse to them. Just not sure she backs off enough. 🙂

      January 27, 2012
  10. Anna #

    Ever late to the party, I made a batch of these yesterday. I stood there with the coconut in my hand, and then decided that the hazelnuts were more in my way, so I put those in instead. Amazing and a big hit with my dinner host! Thanks so much for the recipe.

    May 28, 2012
  11. Anna F. #

    Always late to the party, I just made these over Memorial Day. I was standing over the bowl with the coconut, when I decided that the chopped hazelnuts in my fridge were more in the way than the coconut, so I put those in instead. Delicious! Actually, I expect that a combination of the two would also be delicious. They were a big hit with my dinner host as well. Thanks for the recipe!

    May 30, 2012

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