Friday, February 08, 2008

The Cookies That Couldn't...

So, what do you think of those little beauties? No need to be kind - I think they're pretty ugly.

You might think that I live in a whirl of one culinary climax after another the way I rave about nearly every recipe I post. Either that, or you think I'm easily satisfied. The fact is that I'm really picky about what I consider tasty. Of course, I assess each recipe individually based on specific goals and expectations. Like, am I trying to make a decadent dish more nutritious? Is it my goal to make a streamlined, unfussy version of a complicated recipe? I try my best to explain these expectations so you can get a good idea of what the recipe will really be like. And then you'll be able to understand exactly what it is I'm raving about.

Since I'd rather write with near evangelical enthusiasm about food I love, I don't really talk about the things I make that aren't so hot. Why would you want to hear about cookies that just weren't worth the cost of the ingredients? But, whenever another blogger shares one of their spectacular failures I either learn something (like what not to do), or at least have a laugh.

I've got to admit that these cookies bummed me out. I envisioned a delicious variation on this fantastic chunky oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie that I posted about recently. I eat oatmeal for breakfast at least 4 days a week, and lately I've been making a version with sort of a South Indian flare - cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and a dash of cloves. I like a lotta spice. How could that combo not be spectacular in an oatmeal cookie? And instead of the more intense semisweet chips, I'd use mellow white chocolate. The shredded coconut would stay, but I'd use almonds instead of pecans. Voila - a whole new cookie that would be even better than the original!

Yeah, not so much. I am comforted to say that the spices were good. Strong enough that you could pick out the flavor of cardamom, ginger and even the sharp intensity of the cloves. The white chocolate was awful. I've never really cared for white chocolate, but I thought it would work here, for some odd reason. Yeah, not so much. The stuff just doesn't taste like anything to me! But the really irritating and ultimately puzzling part was that the cookies totally spread in oven, turning flat as can be. Maybe my butter was too soft or the I should have chilled the dough--for hours. This didn't happen in the chocolate chip version, and I didn't mess with any of the fundamental proportions. Who knows?

The overall effect was not tasty. I loved the texture of the old-fashioned oats in the first cookie, but here is was distracting and granola-like. Sure the cookies were edible, but for me, personally, not so much.

The point - besides giving you a break from the extravagant praise I usually give recipes on this blog - is this: if you want to experiment with new ideas and develop recipes worth raving about, you are going to fail occasionally. I'm definitely not sorry I tried. I enjoy baking, especially when I'm trying out an idea, not just following a recipe to the letter. And there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday night. If you don't screw up occasionally, you can't appreciate the truly tasty.

1 comment:

Peabody said...

Bummer about your cookies.