A few weeks before Christmas, I bought one of the many specially-packaged bakery products that lined the aisles of my local Walmart. I bet you know the packages I am talking about, the most common of the Christmas ones being the pre-baked gingerbread houses that come with candy and a mix for icing so you can assemble the house yourself. Walmart is a champion at creating the smells and flavours of the season with huge displays of treats that one only seems to enjoy at Christmas. There were all kinds of baking products on sale - in huge warehouse quantities - and the mixes were there too. I even saw a boxed mix for fruit cake! I think fruit cake tastes a lot like cardboard, and looks considerably less appetizing than cardboard!
The packaged mixes offer the chance for fraudulent homemakers like myself - people who largely have no interest in baking for most of the year - to pretend that they too can make home-made breads, muffins, cakes or cookies too. I know they sell these mixes throughout the year, but it seems that Walmart really stocks up on them at Christmas. (Or maybe, I just ignore them until Christmas time.)
I bought a snack-size cookie mix from Betty Crocker. I imagined that sometime over the Christmas season I would enjoy fresh-baked cookies, warm from my own oven, and so I bought a mix. The package claimed to make 18 cookies, which I reasoned would be enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Well, I bought more than one flavour - the chocolate chip mix and the sugar cookie mix too - and at $1.47 per mix, I was happy with that.
Last night, I decided to make them. I added the 1/4 cup of butter (I used margarine) and tablespoon or two of water and made a dough mixture that was easily spooned onto the cookie sheet. I made two flavours, the chocolate chip and sugar cookies, and in all they took about twenty minutes to bake. Each cookie was okay.
I think the chocolate chip cookies were better. The edges were a bit crispier than the middle but they tasted pretty much like I expected: not as good as homemade but better than Chips Ahoy.
The sugar cookies were a disappointment. Let's face it: sugar cookies are made of flour, butter, baking soda, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Its not much more difficult to assemble them from scratch than to use this mix. And the ones from scratch taste worlds better. I have the feeling that if you added vanilla, cinnamon or lavender, the taste of the cookie would be improved. Overall, I'd say that sugar cookies can really only be made from scratch.