I have a confession to make:
Not every recipe I try actually works.
I'm talking about cookies. And asian food - any asian food that requires more work than hitting "start" on a microwave.
One time I tried making home made pot stickers. The wrappers were ready to go from the store, all I needed was a good filling, fold them up, and I'm good to go! Right? Wrong. Not only did they taste strange, but they made me sick. Something went seriously awry.
The same story goes for fried rice. My fried rice looks more like goopy, off-colored rice. Not appetizing.
Cookies however, are an even more shameful story. I used to be the cookie queen. By age 10 I had the Nestle Tollhouse recipe memorized and would sell them to my brothers for $5 a batch.
I also looked like this:
Now, mind you, that look was a result of puberty and the most painfully awkward years of my young life, but the cookies sure didn't help. They just assuaged the awkwardness for a few blissful seconds.
In the past several years however, I have lost the magic cookie touch. I can follow the old recipe to the letter and still will end up with tasty but mangled and unattractive cookies. It is a mystery to me.
Two weeks ago Jacob and I signed up to bring dessert to church. The church service is held in the evening, with a light dinner served afterwards. Usually people are bringing in glorious baked goods - cakes, fruit tarts, apple breads. The congregation's taste in dessert is impeccable.
Having forgotten about our responsibility until that afternoon, we scrounged around our pantry for inspiration. As it was Sunday, all the stores were closed. Buying a last minute box of sweets was not an option. Thankfully, however, we had just enough ingredients for one batch of cookies.
We just didn't have Baking Soda - because apparently Europe has functioned for thousands of years (and turned out excellent desserts in the process) without baking soda. We figured if the continent could survive without it, our cookies could too. The Baking Powder comes in pre-measured packs, ready to be dumped into your mixing bowl. What is the pre-measured amount though? And how strong is it? No idea. "Let's just put the whole thing in - it worked with our apple cake last week! "
Once the batter was mixed and the *ahem* artisanal hand-cut chocolate added (chocolate chips are still a novel idea in Europe), the dough looked near perfect. "It just needs a bit more flour," I told Jacob.
His response? "Nah..." Balls of dough scooped onto the baking sheet, the cookies were popped into the oven and promptly began to ... melt. Flat. Like the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy douses her in water.
My pride writhed in agony. I have a reputation to maintain! Granted...I might not (yet) have a reputation with anyone who would actually see these cookies, but this could have been the first step on my path to greatness. No longer. That dreamed had been flattened (literally).
By the time the cookies were golden brown and fragrant, they had flattened into pancakes and begun to fry in their own butter. I then spent the next 20 minutes scraping the cookies off the pan, which took about as much effort as removing wallpaper.
By the time I was done I had a pile of crusty cookie-shards, crumbs covering the kitchen floor, and had bent my metal spatula backwards. These were not church-presentable cookies. What other option was there though? We were out of ingredients to make anything else, and every store was closed. There would be no bakery perfect confection to rescue us. We could deliver the cookies, or flake off our dessert duty.
Our saving grace however, was that we were unable to attend church that evening. We dropped off the cookies (anonymously) and left, thankful that no one would know we were the ones responsible for the dessert monstrosity.
I confessed yesterday to my friend Kathryn, and asked her if anyone had eaten the cookies.
She remembered them.
"The funny thing is though," she said, "everyone ate them - there weren't any left! Sure they looked a little weird but I think everyone just thought they were a new kind of cookie trend they hadn't seen before! Like...Cookie Brittle!
It just goes to show. One person's failure, is another person's Cronut.