Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Day 14: Food Glorious Food or Cookies for the Incompetent

Whilst I am a fan of all things culinary (well perhaps not ‘all’ things) particularly pretty kitchen utensils and I have a gift for choosing the unhealthiest desserts in the supermarket, my own culinary expertise is not very extensive. So instead of writing about my favourite treat or recipe I was going to tell you about my best culinary experience. But have decided to do that some other time and be a little more adventurous. Well, maybe adventurous is not really a very accurate description, but more productive?

Everyone’s had those days when they just want to curl up in bed in their pyjamas, stuff their faces with chocolate and watch a sappy film, like Reese Witherspoon in ‘Legally Blonde’. My day started a little in that vein (minus chucking chocolates at the television, but drenched with the same sort of self pity!). This afternoon I was going to take Teddie for a walk, but the rain outside, as gloomy as I felt, rather dampened my enthusiasm for this plan. Spending the rest of my day in a similar way to my morning was an appealing prospect, but rather a pathetic one. So I decided to bake something. And simultaneously provide myself with something to blog about!

As I have already mentioned my culinary skills are nothing to boast of. My repertoire is very unimpressive; my ‘go to’ recipes being flapjacks and a Swedish ‘hasty cake’. So instead of sharing with you my favourite recipe, I thought I’d try out a new one and let you know how it goes. As I was contemplating what to do, taking into account my limited skills, I realised that I had never baked cookies before. Biscuits, yes, but proper homemade cookies with chocolate chips…never.

Thinking about it now, having made said cookies, I should have consulted my cousin, as he is a bit of an expert at the chocolate chip cookie. But I decided to find a recipe book and, to quote ‘Parent Trap’, ‘have a whack at it’.

The tome to which I retreated is rather unimpressive one, a ‘Twenty Five recipes that Kids can cook’. It was given to one of my sisters as a birthday present when we were younger. There were some very pleasant weeks when I was served all manner of treats due to their enthusiasm for making treats.  One of the perks of having siblings! But the book has been long out use. And feeling benevolent towards my sisters who still have to battle with the woes of schools and exams, thought it would be nice to return the favour! And despite being bookmarked, I don’t remember the chocolate chip cookie recipe ever being attempted.
So if you are an equally inexperienced baker of treats (I doubt there are many)read on! I hope this post may help. If not then by all means feel free to laugh at my ineptitude!

So, armed with a hot chocolate and Greg James on the radio I began. This probably wasn’t the best idea, as I soon felt a little queasy (because of the chocolate overload rather than Greg James!) when I’m cooking I can’t help but have a nibble!

Firstly the Utensils you will need:
And the  ingredients (I suggest measuring these out as a first step):


Pour the flour and baking powder into your medium mixing bowl (the one I used was a tad overly large).  The recipe says to do this after melting the chocolate, but you might as well do it now. The recipe also suggests using a whisk, but any stirring utensil will suffice.

The Sugar and eggs go into the large mixing bowl. Similarly, the recipe suggests doing this at a later stage, but it makes more sense to do this now. Using your wooden spoon, mix the eggs and the sugar together.

The first instruction was to chop the chocolate into small, even bits. A singularly unhelpful instruction if I am to be pernickety, for what constitutes a ‘small bit’. In the corresponding photo the pieces of chocolate were not even even. As it happens, the ‘small even bits’ instruction really doesn’t make any difference, if the pieces are vastly different in size then naturally some will melt faster than others, but other than that, it doesn’t matter.
Then cut the butter into chunks. Although if you are using spreadable butter like I did, this step is not just pointless, but rather impossible!

Once chopped, or not chopped as the case may be, put both the butter and the chocolate into your small saucepan. Then place it over the vague heat setting of ‘medium-low’. Doesn’t really matter, as long as the chocolate doesn’t burn. Or get ‘too hot’ as I guess this would cook your eggs or melt your chocolate chips, and scrambled egg cookies really don’t appeal!

Anyway, stir the mixture with your ‘heatproof spatula’ until you have a smooth mixture.

Then pour it into your large mixing bowl along with the eggs and flour and Stir!


Once this is all mixed together add half the flour mixture. Stir until blended. Then add the remainder of the flour mixture, and repeat! The reason behind he multiple stages is really only to make mixing the flour in easier.

Lastly add in the chocolate chips. Or like me, if you have no ready made chips, just chop up some chocolate bars. This results in larger chips any way, which is far more satisfying.


Then leave your dough mixture for an hour. By then it should be ‘firm enough to be scooped’. And naturally one has to taste the mixture. I always think that cakey things should be left uncooked anyway.

The hour to wait is rather convenient for setting the kitchen to rights, line the baking trays with paper and lay out the cooling trays.

I set the oven timer for half an hour. When it went off I started to pre-heat the oven. (180c) Then I set the timer for another half hour.

Now your cookie dough should be ready to put on the baking trays. Scoop rounded balls of dough. You are instructed to place them 5cm apart, which I did, but they joined together any way. Apparently pressing each cookie gently in its middle with slightly wet fingers helps them bake more evenly.

When one tray is full, place it in the oven and leave for fifteen minutes. Then take out of the oven and repeat with the next trays. Warning: They burn easily. I always think with cookies its better to undercook than over cook. But if too undercooked you can either place them back in the oven or in the fridge to harden a little.
 After taking them out of the oven separate any joined cookies gently using the end of your spatula. Wait for about ten minutes after taking the trays out of the oven before loading the contents on to the cooling rack.
And once cool enjoy!
Conclusion of Cookie baking experiment:

  1. I could never be a cook; I have no self restraint!
  2. Recipe books are very unhelpful; they tell you to do things, but not why! If you knew, you would change your behaviour accordingly.
  3. The cookies, whilst a little on the side of being undercooked, were very edible, and favourably received!
  4. But my culinary ineptitude is rather embarrassing!
As ever Teddie wanted to get involved, and waited patiently on the kitchen step, hoping some cookie would come her way. She was a bit disappointed!

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