Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Cook's Confidence and Mocha Cookies

When I first learned to cook I had no confidence in the kitchen at all. Marinate was a cloudy concept, my first stock smelled like onions had exploded in my nose, and if I didn't have one of the ingredients in a recipe, forget it. Why even try? I made exact measurements, kept track of timing to the minute, and never, ever, added random ingredients just to see if they would make a recipe better.

Tonight I eyeballed a cup of sugar in my apple pie, substituted 1 tablespoon of butter for 2 because it would conveniently finish a pack, tore random basil leaves into my pizza sauce until it felt like enough, and changed the oven temperature for the pie because it just seemed too hot. I prebaked the pizza crusts since they were a bit soggy last time and experimented with boiling down my sauce since it's sometimes too watery. In short, I used the recipes as guides but I was the cook.

Clearly, times have changed. Confidence in the kitchen is probably my biggest cooking asset now. I answer questions from helpers authoritatively, even when I have never tackled the particular problem they are dealing with. More of that? Yes. Stir it like this? No quite, more like this. It's like I have a cooking compass, and it mainly points towards good food.

But then sometimes it doesn't. Like when I made these mocha cookies from my favorite bakery in California - Some Crust. I took my cook's confidence just one step too far - substituting random chocolate for 99% cocoa, random chocolate for bittersweet, regular flour for pastry flour, and my own quick arm for an electric mixer. I couldn't get that other stuff, so I thought why not try? Ho hum. I suppose they do make recipes the way they are for a reason!

Still, even my mocha cookie giant pancake flops were pretty good. Only imagine how good they would be if you had all the ingredients and tools AND confidence. Check out Some Crust's recipe here at Bake Space.

1 comment:

  1. Betsy: the best thing you can do in the kitchen is fail. Now you know what you can substitute and what you can't. APF isn't the same gluten-wise as pastry, so the outcome is vastly different. And, you can't make a 1-to-1 substitution. Now you know. I've failed oodles of times, but that's why it's great to have a husband who will try and, usually, eat anything. Bake on.