Friday, June 1, 2012

Keeping it Real (or, Total Cookie Failure)

I've read a lot of blog posts recently about the importance of Keeping It Real.  Apparently, some people feel bad because there are bloggers who paint a picture of themselves as Supermoms who do it all, perfectly and beautifully.  That hasn't been my experience.  I read A LOT of blogs and find that the overwhelming majority (including myself) share not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly.  (Believe me, I have shared plenty of bad and quite a bit of ugly.)  Today I will be Keeping It Real by sharing my latest recipe failure.  

I love making up recipes.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile might remember I spent a month last summer making up recipes using peaches and nectarines (Maple Glazed Nectarines, Peach Muffins, Nectarine Vodka cocktails, etc.).  I invented some soups this winter (like this Rice Chowder) and now that fair season is near it's time for my annual attempt to invent something that will win first prize.  (Spoiler alert: I will NOT be winning first prize with this recipe.)

I was very interested in a Mystery Cookie competition.  Basically, you make up a recipe and turn in the cookies and the best one wins.  There is a list of 8 ingredients that you MUST use, plus another list from which you must choose 2 or more.  You can't use anything that isn't on either list.  At first glance, this seemed easy- flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, baking soda, chocolate chips, ... perfectly normal cookie things were on both lists.  I gathered ingredients and my trusty assistant.
 
As we baked, I took careful note of what I added and how much.  The only tricky-for-me ingredient was milk, which I don't normally put in cookies.  I'd already planned to add oats as one of my bonus ingredients, so I was hoping the extra liquid from the milk would be absorbed by the oats.  I split the dough in fourths and added different ingredients to each. The completed doughs looked and felt good.

 
(Chocolate chips, oats and graham cracker chunks)


 
Cocoa powder, oats, marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs)

When the first batch came out of the oven, it was painfully obvious my recipe was a flop.  The edges were crisp and dark while the centers were underdone.  The cookies had spread way too much and had no structural integrity whatsoever.

 
Undaunted, I tried a different pan.  That can make quite a difference.  It was even worse!  Check out the raw centers.  Plus now they were completely stuck to the pan.

 
Perhaps if I use muffin tins they'll bake more evenly and won't spread so much?

 
Yes... they did bake more evenly and they didn't spread.  Instead, they rose like souffles then sank.  I had to pry them out and they crumbled into chunks.  

 
Maybe a Silpat?  Slightly better... at least they didn't stick.

 
What was frustrating is that the cookies were absolutely delicious.  Taste = A+.  Texture and appearance = a generous D-.  Clearly not a first place winner.  

I have a lot of ideas about what went wrong and how I can fix it during future attempts.  But I won't be entering these in the fair.  As it turns out, I have a conflict and can't deliver them on the proper day.  Oh well. 

So what did I do with the failed crumbly cookies?  I folded them into homemade vanilla ice cream. 



Delicious!

7 comments:

  1. I knew even with a failed recipe that you would make it work!! You are awesome that way!!!

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  2. I can fail with a fail-proof recipe. Good thing my hubby isn't picky about appearance and likes the tastes. Fun post Cindy. Have a fun weekend.

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  3. I thought they sounded delicous. I love the ingredient combination. How fun to try and at least they did taste good even if they didn't rise perfectly. I loved your solution on how to eat them!! It's a great lesson to teach Trevor too. That you just have to keep trying! We know you're going to come up with a winner. :)

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  4. I love this post, Cindy!!!!! LOL!!!! I really have to give you an "A" for effort and for keeping on trying! And in the end, you made what looks like delicious ice cream!!! WOOHOO! And the photo of Trevor is adorable, too!

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  5. I love your perseverance....that's such an awesome quality.
    My mum's not big on presentation so I can eat anything as long as it tastes good! ;)

    P/s: I'm sure it tasted great with ice-cream. Yummo!

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  6. I love that you showed the "fail" ;) Glad they tasted good at least and it wasn't a total loss!! :)

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  7. Hey - my Mom and I were going through her cookie cookbook last night and I remembered this post... so I asked for her advice! (She has a degree in Home Econ and spent an entire year of her college life learning the art of baking so to speak! I'll have to tell you about her brownie experiment sometime!) She said to tell you that it was most likely your butter to flour ratio -- too much butter. Other options is that your butter was too soft -- room temp is best -- if it's too hot, it melts and will cause your cookies to burn and spread. If the room was too warm or your oven temp was too high, you can also try refrigerating the cookie dough. But most likely, it was too much butter/not enough flour. Maybe the milk contributed too? Hope that helps! :)

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