Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Twitter-pated to Twitter-bated and the cookie that eased the bane.

Port wine caramels (front) and Port wine caramel dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies (behind)
This is a bit of a vent, so if you just want the Port Wine Caramel Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe scroll down!

It's been a month since I lost my Twitter-ginity and as anticlimactic as that was, the Twittersphere on the whole has been a bit of a let down. I thought it would be good practice for writing pithy statements since you're limited to 140 characters. I thought it might even provide an opportunity to connect with a few writers and comedians I admire. The transition from Facebook to Twitter, however, wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.

Facebook  (a backyard barbeque with friends) vs Twitter (a pity invite to the cool kids' party) is proving a sad little showdown. Yeah, yeah, it's all a bit absurd...how can one expect real connection through social networking - it's not face to face communication, blardy blar. I'll be honest, though I have many a Facebook friend close by, I love it for the connection with my friends and family who are not in any drivable distance. And though it's been accused of being just a venue for narcissists, I've loved the invitation to friends' self disclosure as well as sharing my own.

Twitter, on the other hand, lets me follow anyone and anyone can follow me. Not just friendlies. Anyone. I thought this might be a bad mix for me. It's not what you think. Yes, there is the danger of Twitter trolls and spammers who could potentially fill my page with rubbish...but as it turns out I feel like I'm the troll.

I decided when I started tweeting that I would follow as many writers and comedians as I could. People whose writing and comedy has in some way impacted my writing style...listen and learn from the truly gifted. Eager to learn from their wisdom or witty accounts of the world around them. Eager to emulate those whose writing styles I feel some kind of kindred attachment to or just admire.

But here's the kicker, on Facebook a response, even a "like" is almost always a given. That precious little "thumbs-up, we heard you and we like you" is ridiculously validating.

There is no such thing on Twitter. Yes, there is the option of a reply...but don't count on getting one. Especially when tweeting someone who has some kind of public profile. Don't get me wrong, the people I follow are not high profile actors or musicians who fight for the cover of People magazine...I follow good writers and funny people who have been published or have had scripts make it to production (with a smattering of highly recognizable comedians who I would never tweet as I know it would be futile). And of the writers and funny people I have bravely tweeted, for the most part, it was to get information related to one of their tweets. I've asked a sports presenter about scoring rules in diving not expecting a personal tweet just a general answer en masse...nothing.  I've asked a comedian's fan page (not even managed by the comedian) information about an upcoming book...nothing. There have been a few other benign unacknowledged tweets. To be fair, some have hundreds of followers so I don't know why I'd expect a response. Still, it left me feeling a bit small and insignificant.

Tweeting is dumping 140 characters into space and watching it float off into the void. I'm a writer...I rely on feedback. Twitter is not the place for feedback. Unless you're one of these public profile people and get bombarded with questions about diving scores and book launches. Or worse.

On the upside, I did get a kind response from a funny man regarding the Edinburgh Fringe Festival...I almost cried. Me? You're talking to me??  On the downside, a funny lady kindly acknowledged me and I managed to frighten her away by also trying to be funny - never a good idea for me especially where words are limited and intonation is missing. My fault, that one. For a week I kept thinking, "I bet she thinks I'm a troll. How awful." But maybe I really am. Is communicating with someone you don't really know, trolling? It kind of is. They didn't ask me to follow them. And most of the information I'm looking for I could probably find via Google.  This is a horrible feeling to come to terms with...it's the last thing in the world I'd ever want to be...or worse, have other people think so of me.

I'm debating deleting my Twitter account, though I don't want to give up on it just yet. It probably takes a little time to get used to watching dialogue and not participating...and not using it as an information gathering resource except to take note when those I follow are plugging a book, show or article. It should probably be used only for...what? Spectating? Maybe all you tweeters out there could tell me why you use Twitter.

In the meantime I will temper the silence with chocolate and red wine...in the form of a cookie.

 Port Wine Caramel Dark Belgian Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
These were inspired by a bacon caramel cookie and port wine lollies!

First: 1 1/2 cups Late Bottled Vintage Port - reduce in saucepan to 1/2 cup

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup heavy cream (divided)
1/2 cup reduced port

Line 8x8 brownie pan with parchment. Combine all but 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

Bring to a boil until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit on your candy thermometer.  Add remaining cream and bring back to boil until it reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour into 8x8 pan and let set.

Once set: slice into 1" by 1" squares. You'll need about 24 for one batch of cookies.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter
1/3 cup dark chocolate chopped into bits (Belgian if you can)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips  (Belgian if you can)

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Melt butter and chopped dark chocolate in saucepan or microwave. In a mixer with the paddle attachment mix the melted butter and dark chocolate. Add sugars and mix on low until well combined. Add eggs, mix until well combined. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined, scraping edges and bottom of bowl. Add semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a spoon scoop out dough and place a caramel square in the middle, squish dough around it so it is completely covered. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 11 - 13 minutes. Let cool.

Any remaining caramel can be sliced and packaged and placed in a sealed container or you can make another batch of dough and use them up in the cookies.

(p.s. I'm posting this via Twitter...watching it float away...bye bye.)
(p.p.s. Thank goodness I am also posting it to Facebook, where there are people who love me.)
(p.p.p.s Apologies for the photos...some have turned out rather pinkish...I should really get my photographer husband to take them for me!)