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Adventures in baking

If you ever want advice on cooking- don’t come to me. I barely even have basic knowledge of how to cook something tasty that doesn’t have instructions on the back of a box.
Hell, before Holden started eating real food, ALL I could make was Hamburger Helper. As tasty as that is, it gets old after a while. Really old.
I’ve branched out a bit since then, but not enough to give anyone else tips on what to make or how to make it.

Baking on the other hand.. I guess i’d consider myself intermediate at.

It was an absolute obsession while I was pregnant, and has now turned into a fun hobby. Even a stress reliever of sorts.

Before getting pregnant with Parker- I literally could not even make BOX brownies without turning them into rock hard slabs of stone. Not very appetizing.
Brownies are still not really my forte. I’ve tried many MANY from scratch recipes- and while they come out soft and moist- I still prefer the box kind (which I can now make without scorching) over them. Weird. People say the box brownies “taste artificial”- guess that’s what I like! The from scratch, regardless of whether I use cocoa powder or melted chocolate in the mix.. just taste so BLAH to me. Not enough sugar? Who knows. I’ve almost given up that venture altogether.

Cookies though, cookies are definitely my niche.
After totally screwing up my first from-scratch batch.. to where they were a cake like consistency (still yummy though), which is NOT the kind of cookie I like.. I started researching on how to make the perfect soft chewy cookie.

If a soft chew cookie is what you’re looking for, here are my tips:

BROWN SUGAR. The molasses makes for a chewy cookie. If you want your cookies hard and crunchy, go with granulated- but you’ll almost never get a soft result if you use the white.

Don’t be a lazy ass and use a stand mixer. Do it the good old fashioned way. Take a spatula, and fold it. It really doesn’t take that much longer, and it makes for a much easier clean up. Not to mention, if you fold- you have much less of a chance of over mixing the batter- once again making for a hard, cakey cookie.

Don’t try to melt your butter in the microwave. Leave your (unsalted) butter out on the counter for a few hours before baking so it naturally gets soft.

Let the cookie dough set in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Soft cookie dough spreads, and your cookies will then be like funky pancakes and will cook unevenly.

Take the cookies out of the oven when the edges JUST begin to brown. Then leave them on the hot pan for another 5 minutes to continue cooking the center.
As yummy as fresh out of the oven cookies are, when you’re going for a soft cookie- chances are if you try to eat them hot they’ll be like molten lava. I still eat them like that anyways, but they’re even more awesome the day after. Or even just a few hours after.

As far as eggs go- don’t just crack them into the butter/sugar/vanilla mixture and beat them in that way. Beat each egg separately, and mix them into your ‘almost’ batter separately. With a SPATULA, not a wisk. Wisks will notoriously over mix your batter without even realizing it. Can’t remember why this is- I just know it works.

Lastly- Don’t assume the cooking temperature given is the one right for your oven. I learned that the hard way- after having dozens of batches come out cooked on the edges and totally raw in the center. If you have a gas range, reduce the heat by about 25 degrees. You really have to learn how to work with your particular oven. Become one with your oven. Yes, I really just typed that. Cheesy, but true. I’ve had to toggle with the settings SO many times, set the dough for longer, shorter.. just to get a good result. And while my cookies are fantastic, if I do say so myself, I still can’t get the temperature quite right.
Might be because I really dislike my oven and it can sense it. Stupid gas oven and its uneven heat.

Oh, and just one last thing:
This recipe made THE BEST cupcakes i’ve ever had in my entire life:
http://picky-palate.com/2009/08/10/chocolate-fudge-jr-mint-centered-cupcakes/

Try it. You won’t regret it!

If you ever want to try any of my recipes like Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, super soft chewy chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter chip cookies (the best EVER and it’s my own special recipe too!), chewy oatmeal craisin- just ask. I’m happy to share the wealth!

Posted on March 31, 2010 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment
Holdin' Holden

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