Friday Fuck Ups: You Only Turn 21 Once
My little sister, Sherry, just turned 21. Turning 21 is like a national fucking holiday, well at least with team gansie. My mom was so nervous about her doing something stupid that she couldn’t sleep the entire weekend. We’re that serious about our *legal* drinking. So for her birthday, I knew her friends would be supplying all the alcohol she needed, so I thought I could provide some sustenance.
As we all know, I can’t bake for shit. Well, that’s actually a lie. It’s unclear (well, until you read this post) if I can bake or not. It’s not that I can’t bake for shit, I just never never never bake.
Anyway, for the love of my sister, I decided to try my hand at the oven. Last time I sent her something – rice krispie treats – they were a total pain in the ass, but turned out well (I mean, they’re pretty foolproof.) This time I really wanted to challenge myself.
I’m not really friends with many bakers, except for DAD GANSIE and Mo Green. So I asked the two of them for some suggestions. I also emailed my high school ex-boyfriend’s mom. She’s an amazing baker, and I think the last time I made chocolate chip cookies was with her, like a decade ago. I asked her to think of something I could make that was
- would travel well.
And then Mrs. A had the brilliant idea of a GIANT COOKIE! The giant cookie cake would be
- easy, it’s just like making regular cookies
- clearly be tasty – its a cookie!
- stay moister than separate cookies because there would be less surface area exposed to air
She also suggested that I buy a pizza round pan to bake the cookie on and to stop by my local pizza place (if only I still lived in Jersey…) to use one of their pizza boxes to ship the cookie. Fortunately, I’m a lazy shit and never threw out the big William Sonoma box from one of my birthday presents a month earlier, so I used that instead.
Take the jump to find out about my adventures in baking.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake with Caramel Drizzle
So you know how you’re supposed to read all the directions for anything (driving, cooking, putting together something from IKEA) before you start, well, I forgot to do that. When I got home from the new Harris Teeter… Actually, let me start before that.
Besides purchasing the specifics for this recipe, I had to buy very basic ingredients, brown sugar and baking soda being two of them. I also had no idea what granulated sugar was (apparently just regular sugar.)
Okay, when I got home, I started to lay out all of the ingredients and that’s when I realized that I had kept my butter – that needed to be at room tempertaure – in the freaking freezer.
From watching cooking shows I knew that you couldn’t sub melted butter in for regular butter, yet I had no idea how to get this butter to room temp -stat.
Mo Green suggested I chop up the butter, put that on a plate, and put that plate over simmering water. Well, that sort of worked, but then the butter started melting. I then slid the butter off the plate and onto a cutting board, trying to dice it up, and while dicing it, trying to soften it.
That more or less worked, but was terribly messy.
After calling Mo Green to learn what “cream the butter” meant, I dumped the butter in with the brown sugar and started trying to mix it together. Sure, this would have been cake if I owned a hand mixer, but of course, I don’t. This was going to be a BITCH. As you can see from the above shot, a whisk was not the answer.
I switched to a wooden spoon, mashing the butter and the sugar into the sides of the bowl. This grew tiresome and I soon invited 80P in on the action. After tearing a muscle whipping and mashing the butter into the sugar, it looked like the above photo (and didn’t taste half bad!) Oh, and I added 2 eggs in as well.
In a separate bowl, I combined flour, baking soda and salt and then incorporated that into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Next in was the vanilla extract and both white and semi-sweet chocolate chips. MMMM…this batter was great!
As a high schooler I was terribly obsessed with chocolate chip cookie dough. Whenever Mrs. A made cookies she’d save a few tablespoons of batter for me to eat later. And my house was always stocked with those yellow tubes of pre-made dough from Toll House.
And when I moved into my freshman year dorm, I took with me – no joke – five rolls of dough, all lovingly wrapped in tin foil by my Oma. I had problems. And back then, my metabolism did not.
When I finally could tear myself away from the batter, I buttered a sheet of parchment paper and tried to spread the dough out on to it, which was fairly difficult. Trying to press this into something flat and evenly round became a total pain in the ass. So after it looked like the above photo, I gave up and put it in the oven.
I left for college when my sister was only 13, and I was such a raging bitch to her that I barely paid her any attention, let alone discover her food likes. But I’ve learned my ways, and learned that Sherry is a rockstar. And also likes white chocolate and caramel. Adding in the white choc chips was easy, but I didn’t know how to incorporate the caramel.
Luckily, Mo Green came to the rescue AGAIN. She had my buy those caramel squares to create an arty topping on the cookie. Once the cookie was in the 375 degree oven, I started the caramel topping.
On super low heat I melted 12 of those squares, stirring constantly, until it became liquidy. Mo Green also helped me time this perfectly. I’d put the cookie in and then by the time it took for the caramels to melt — about 10 minutes and about half the baking time of the cookie — I would drizzle the caramel over the top. And because the cookie would only be in there for another 15 minutes or so, the caramel wouldn’t burn.
Once the cookie was back in the oven I thought I was free. I started cleaning (and licking bowls) and when I went to put the flour away I realized I FORGOT TO PUT THE FUCKING SUGAR IN! FUCK!
I had remembered the brown sugar, but the recipe just said “cream the butter and the sugars…” and I guess I just glazed over the “s” in the sugars because I only measured out the brown stuff.
Ugh. I hate recipes. I hate baking.
See, this would never happen in cooking. Cooking you can always fix stuff, well, almost. You can always add more oil, butter, salt, pepper, chipotle, garlic, rosemary, lemon, honey… You get the idea. It can usually adapt. But, no. Baking is over once it comes out of the oven. So here I am cursing and screaming and then chiming in on the ES hosted Top Chef Live Blogging totally bitching about the cookie and sugar and baking. Which is funny because it was the same Top Chef where the contestants had to bake for the quick fire.
Okay, so after the swear words had finished flying from my mouth, and it was time to remove the cookie from the oven, I let it sit for a while and then tried just a sliver. Miraculously, it tasted delicious. I’m guessing it was because of all the other sweeteners/flavor enhancers: brown sugar, butter, caramel, choc chips, vanilla…
In the end, it all worked out. The package arrived at my sister’s house the day of her birthday (intact!) and was subsequently finished that very night after everyone got home from the bars. Oh, and I also packed in there a tub of vanilla frosting, a kind of DIY addition, as well as a bag of pretzels (to dip in the left over frosting) and the rest of the bag of caramels.
And above is me and the newly 21 year old, Sherry! I know how thrilled she’ll be with me posting this picture of us. But I figure if I look worse than she does (and this is her just 30 minutes after she suffered an almost-concussion at her rugby game) than she may not mind.
Happy Birthday Sherry!
Emeril’s Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Sticking the butter in the microwave for a little while to soften it is fine, and if it melts that’s ok too – the cookies still turn out fine, though the texture will be different. My favorite trick is to melt the butter partly, mix everything, then put the batter in the fridge overnight, then bake them.
They come out even MORE delicious.
Also the best way to mix cookie dough is to use your hands. Literally. No spoons. I mean, clean them first and everything.
oh! great tips. (although i don’t have a microwave)
can you explain what the difference in the texture would be if the butter was melted…more chewy, soft, crunchy?
Bad ass cookie, Gansie!! The illustrations look SO delish.
terribly impressive – love the inclusion of white chocolate chips – too often overlooked
I’ve found melted butter makes them more crunchy You can also substitute Crisco for some/all of the butter, but it changes the texture as well.
Then again, I have yet to produce a respectable baked good.
I can’t believe you didn’t cut into the cookie! Great self restraint.
Also, please post the picture of the “little” sister helping the “big” sister walk after a night at the bars. That’s my favorite sister picture by farrrr.
Happy Birthday Sherry!!!
So how soon are you investing in a hand mixer? Personally, it only took me after attempting to make a meringue crust…once..
Yeah melted butter makes them a little crunchy…being that I’m very sciencey, I could explain this using sciencey things like the specific heat of butter and the melting point of simple sugars, but the bottom line is that refrigerated dough makes the chewier, and melted butter and room-temperature dough makes them crispier.
Yep, you could use melted butter and then chill the dough for a while before baking (you could chill the whole pan if your fridge will allow). Basically, cold butter = less spreading, so they are a bit puffier. Crisco does the same thing, but more so. Your warm or melted butter will usually result in spread-out, flatter cookies with a crispy, sometimes lacy edge.