Thursday, December 20, 2007
Shall I be so bold as to call it a blessing? I got let out of the office at 4:30 today after a presentation. It was quite the mercy after a bad yesterday.
I've been itching to try out some new cookie recipes for weeks now, so what better way to spend the rest of the evening than with a holiday bake-off? I went ingredient shopping, poured myself a glass of wine, gnawed on some cheese, and got to work. I felt like the king of the world having the kitchen all to myself for so many hours.
For the ingredients, I used as many organic as possible (and when available, local) with the main exception being the butter. I spent a precious hour or so rummaging through the butter section of 4 different stores looking for my favorite butter, Plugra, with no luck. I ended up buying an (expensivo) Italian brand. Why so picky about butter? Whether you want to believe it or not, it's the main ingredient in cookies. If you need to see it to believe it, just look at this picture. Woa Nelly, that's a lot of butter. [And hey, that's the beautiful Le Crueset dutch oven from M. Thanks, M. It was the best present ever. No exaggeration.]
The cookie I'm most excited about is one that requires brown butter (sorry, names of actual cookies may not be revealed till x-mas time). I've made a little brown butter for pasta dishes (with sage!), but never in such large quantities. It's quite a satisfying process to brown up a big pot of butter: As soon as it melts, it starts to bubble. The bubbles are quite cute. Then in about 11 minutes, it forms a thick foam right before it starts to caramelize, turn a beautiful golden brown, and give off a nutty aroma. It takes on such a personality of its own you almost want to yell out, "It's alive!"
The one mistake I made was when I doubled the recipe, I miscalculated the flour and had to add in more last-minute. I hope they still turn out o.k. My kitchen math could definitely use some improvement. I could also really use a KitchenAid mixer. I can't decide what's harder - hand-kneading pasta dough or hand-creaming butter and sugar.
The final product of the day was a pile of dirtied-up bowls, a table and floor covered in white flour, and and 4 nice batches of dough wrapped in plastic. Pure satisfaction. They will rest peacefully overnight in my mini-fridge and be thrown (gently placed) in the oven tomorrow night. Till then, good night my little babies.
An addendum: "Liquid gold," a great article on browned butter "
Posted by Undercover Cook at 12:08 AM