February 20, 2011

how to not bake cookies

There is a cookie craze going on with food blogs every where. I have seen some that make me want to reach through the screen and shove one in my mouth. Just to name a few:

Joanne's Red Velvet Black and White Cookies

Christina's Banana Walnut Chocolate Cookies

Valerie's Black Magic Chocolate Mint Cookies

So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and bake some cookies this weekend. I had a really busy weekend, so I woke up early Saturday morning to try my best to make Levain's famous chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Ever since I ate those cookies 2 weeks ago, I have been craving them every day. They were outrageous.

I had this picture to go by. See the tray of cookies? Those dough balls are huge.

Here I zoomed in for you. Aren't you so glad you have me to do these things?

I was pretty sure I knew what to do to achieve this  kind of cookie. I knew I needed baking powder in the recipe, cold cold butter and big balls of dough.

So I made a batch of chocolate chocolate chip cookies with extra flour, butter and baking powder. The dough was out of control - so rich and fudgy. I could have just gone to town on this bowl.

But instead, I ambitiously made baseball sized cookies. They were so big, the whole batch of dough only made 6 cookies.

I should have known this would be a disaster, but I was confident in my idea. I stuck the whole tray in the freezer for a few minutes to make sure the dough was really cold before going in the oven.

At this point, I was so excited. I was convinced these cookies would tear through the country. Eventually Oprah would make my recipe and tell all her friends about it. Before next week, I would be traveling around the world telling the good news about these cookies. They would heal the sick and bring world peace.

Here is what happened in the oven...

The cookies started to spread out at the bottom but not at the top. After 5 minutes, the edges were starting to brown while the middle of the cookies were raw. The chocolate chips had hardly even melted. After 10 minutes, the edges of the cookies were splitting and getting even more brown while nothing happened in the center. After 15 minutes, I took them out of the oven and set them on the counter, hoping the cookies might continue to cook a bit. I was very wrong. I tried to pick a GIANT cookie up and it fell apart. So I put them back in the oven for 7 more minutes. When I took them out again, they were done all the way through - but burnt on the edges and too tough in the middle.

Cookie disaster.

I didn't even take pictures because I was so mad. I just threw those baseballs in the trash can and stormed around my house cleaning things because that's what I do when I'm mad.

All this to say - cooking is about trying new things, failing, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes and trying again. It's not always perfect, but I will keep testing recipes. It makes it all the more sweet when you finally get it right.

Does anyone have some kitchen disasters to share?

Thanks for still loving me when I burn cookies.


  1. So funny...

    I'm pretty sure I saw those cookies on a show on the Food Network, maybe the Best Thing I Ever Ate? Are they the ones that are still melty in the middle even though they're cooled off? They looked amazing. You would have been my hero, or perhaps my worst enemy, had you figured out how to make them.

  2. Yep, had to look it up to make sure those were the ones. The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Season 2: Chocolate. Yeah, definitely glad you didn't figure it out.

  3. Gillie - Haha! I will figure it out someday! :)

    And yes, they were featured on the Food Network! They are incredible, so delicious. I think it was voted Best Cookie in New York too.

  4. Dear Jenna, I read your disaster and thought of familiar situations. I might have a suggestion that would be helpful and you won't feel like you wasted all those fine ingredients, take all of your cookie "crumbs" minus the burnt part and freeze it in a seal lock bag. These crumbs make wonderful crust for a cheese cake or tart or topping to a cupcake or to crumble in another cookie batch mixture. I hope that you will try this suggestion. I know that it is so frustrating to waste such good ingredients. I actually miss it when I run out of my mistakes!

  5. Catherine, that is a wonderful idea! It was such a shame to throw those cookies away. Next time, I will be sure to save them and use them for some good! Thanks for the suggestion :)

  6. i think we've all had kitchen disasters. that's what makes us better cooks in the end!! we know what NOT to do in the future hahahah. i've had so many messes that i can't even begin to count. :)

  7. yup those cookies you've shown ARE amazing i looked them up and tried to make them- - and failed. but ya know what? my friends came over and "loved" it. not like lying or anything, but they helped me fix it by adding whipped cream or tidying the crumbs and helping me make a new batch too.

    and yay no work today- presidents day! :) ellie

  8. Practice makes perfect. I'm not too good at makin stuff up...I like to follow a solid recipes as my base and just alter the add-ins. But then, I'm a dorky engineer who doesn't know how to ad-lib and doesn't have the guts to risk it...so I say congrats on the attempt! I bet next time they'll be amazing :)

  9. Hey Jenna...I burnt a coffee cake once b/c I had the oven on 450 instead of 350. That was a smelly experience filled with blaring fire alarms. I had a suggestion for you about the cookies. Butter makes them spread out by nature...why not try butter flavored Crisco sticks? Or do half and half with butter and the Crisco? I have mongo choco chips cookies @ SublimeHodgePodge if you want to see what all Crisco ones look like. (they are awesome) And Brandi @ thecountrycook just made the Levain knock offs with great success. You could check her out too. :P

  10. The part where you envisioned the cookies sweeping the nation and bringing world peace? Too funny.
    I had my own kitchen disaster just tonight. I tried a new ethic/Indian-ish dish. It had all the ingredients necessary for total yummy bliss. I was so excited...unfortunately, the onion I used was bad. Fail. Utter and complete fail. The taste of that bad onion completely overpowered the yumminess, and we ended up throwing it out. So disappointing! And yucky.

  11. I am actually deep down quite terrible at making cookies. The first batch of red velvet black and whites was a flimsy disaster. I ate them all so that I could pretend they never happened.

    I hear the secret to Levain cookies is to use bread flour in them. Just don't tell anyone you heard it from me...