I think I’m starting to get lazy and careless. This is not good seeing as how I’ve only been at this for a month.
I went to open mic night a week ago and decided to make some chocolate chip cookies to take to Walt, the man who runs it. He’s been requesting more ever since I made him some over a year ago. So I g0t out my favorite recipe for it and started mixing. When I got to the part about adding the sour cream (yes, it uses sour cream as the acid that counters with the baking soda), I decided to substitute lowfat plain yogurt since I had made a point of buying it, yet letting it nearly spoil in the refrigerator. I had already added the sugars though, but didn’t feel like the addition of a LITTLE more sugar would cause harm.
I also added the additional one cup of flour more than the recipe calls for so as not to end up with chocolate chip flat-as-a-pancake cookies.
First tray comes out of the oven and what do I have? Chocolate chip flat-as-a-pancake cookies. No problem, those will be the reject cookies set aside for my family (They can’t complain. The cookies still tasted good). I stirred in more flour and the next batch was better. Still a little flatter than I like, but I once added a lot of extra flour to the batter and ended up with high and dry cookies. The extra sugar from the yogurt made these pretty sweet, but not in a bad way. The gold-star cookies went to Walt, with a few leftover for Matt the Electrician‘s wingman Scrappy Jud Newcomb.
Next baking project was a bit more important because the result would be consumed by my friends. I wouldn’t exactly call them critics, but I have a reputation to uphold.
Once again, a look in my fridge showed me a bottle of buttermilk nearing expiration. So you know now that I don’t like to wash dishes (don’t worry, I DO wash them though) and I don’t like things that I’ve paid for go to waste. So I found a nice little chocolate cake recipe that called for buttermilk.
Near the end up mixing up the batter, I went to add my dry ingredients and realized I only had about half the amount of cocoa powder that I needed. Well crap. I’m lazy and didn’t feel like making a grocery run, so I just added some hot cocoa mix. Probably not the best substitution, but the label said it had cocoa powder in it. To be on the safe side, I filled one muffin cup with the batter for taste-testing and baked it with the cake.
Um… the outcome definitely would have raised questions about my baking ability. Not chocolaty enough, and no amount of rich frosting would have saved it. Into the garbage it went and out came the no-fail recipe for a chocolate chip cake. So I wasted the buttermilk and had to use even more ingredients. Fortunately I had every thing available for this cake, just had to run out to the grocery to buy more cocoa powder for the frosting. Alas, the trip was unavoidable.
At this point, I had wasted quite a bit of time. Earlier in the day, I rolled out and baked all the sugar cookie dough I had made a few days ago. Then I made a failed chocolate cake. So once the good chocolate chip cake was baked and cooled, I didn’t have much time for decorations. And decorating is my favorite part! I love being creative.
To make it simple but pretty, I figured I’d frost it with a rich chocolate buttercream and then make a little white chocolate bow and ribbon to go on it to look like a gift. I’ve made a 3D chocolate bow before by melting down chocolate and spreading it thin on waxed paper, then looping the paper so the chocolate ends touch eachother, and chill till hard. Then I take the chocolate loops (about 4 of them) and arrange them like a bow with a couple straight pieces as the ends. Bad explanation? See the “Piece of Cake” section for a picture.
I melted down some white chocolate that was white/red swirled so that it would make a pink bow. The color actually came out quite red. Then to make it pretty and shiny, I added a couple drops of corn syrup. Whoa chocolate! What the hell?! The chocolate totally seized up into a lump. And it wasn’t even shiny!
Brilliantly, I concluded that if I added some water to the chocolate, it would be a nice spreadable consistency again. After I mixed in some water, I went to the internet and googled “chocolate corn syrup.” Immediately, pages about molding chocolate came up. I flashed back to Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss and thought, “hmmm… I may have something here.”
I went back to my lump of chocolate which had stubbornly separated from the water. Apparently, the two don’t get along. I dried the remaining water off the chocolate just like I blot all the nasty grease off pizza. Then I stuck the stuff into the freezer since I didn’t have two hours to chill it.
Ten minutes later, the chocolate was super hard and unworkable. Back in the microwave it went, taking me right back to where I started. I took the now warm lump and kneaded it a bit. It still wasn’t very workable because it was kind of dry. It definitely didn’t want to be pulled like the pulled sugar (see Lesson 1). But like the pulled sugar, I got a rose made. Yes, it took several attempts before I got the finished product. But I proudly displayed the red rose on the cake and piped some white chocolate to say “Happy Birthday.” Underneath, I formed rose petals out of the molding chocolate and arranged them to say “Ali,” who was the birthday girl.
All-in-all, pretty interesting day, definitely a long one. With the sugar cookies, two cakes, and decorations, I had been going from 11 am to 9 pm. But I think the birthday cake lived up to my reputation. Cookie Kelly can hold her head up high… for now.
Chocolate chip cookies: B+
Buttermilk Chocolate Cake: F
Chocolate Chip Cake: A
This little baker needs a few days off, at least until Monday, Labor Day. I also need to bake something for Paolo Nutini to take to his show on Tuesday.