|The Caramel That Tried To Escape|
By Orange Planer, Virtual Ability member
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon when my wife said, “I need chocolate!” I like to think I’m a good husband, so I raise my bulk off the couch to make my top-secret chocolate cookies. Re-reading the recipe is always a good thing, so after doing that I promptly forget everything, mix all the dry ingredients, crack the two eggs into a bowl, and wait for the butter to soften.
After an hour or so the butter is softened. The recipe doesn’t make a lot of cookies, so out comes the smaller bowl and the beater with the rubber scrapers on the edge. Time to cream the butter (beat a lot of air into it). The butter goes into the bowl, I start the mixer on low and slowly speed it up. Great, the butter has gone from soft yellow to white with the additional air. The recipe says to add two cups of sugar (to beat a lot more air into it).
We have trouble: the sugar was combined with all the other dry ingredients. Now what? Well, there's sugar in there SOMEwhere, hopefully it will help cream the butter… I add the first of two cups of dry ingredients and put the mixer on low. Uh oh. I forgot cocoa powder is light and prone to fly all over the place. Result: happy, graceful cocoa powder clouds rise into the air.
In for a dime, in for a dollar. I continue adding dry ingredients with the mixer on low. So far, so good, the cocoa powder clouds are subsiding, but the butter is sticking to the beater shaft. Increasing the mixer speed from 2 to 4 should take care of that.
We have more trouble: I did not wait until the dry ingredients were incorporated. Now unhappy, not-so-graceful, cocoa powder clouds color the air around me. It’s in my mouth, it's coating the mixer, the rest of the kitchen, and it's all over me.
Well, that did not work, so after turning off the mixer and scraping the butter off the beater shaft, the dry ingredients get incorporated. Now it is time to finish creaming the butter with the mixer at high speed. That is also when I realize the bowl is not big enough. Dough is starting to spew all over me and the kitchen.
I turn off the mixer, clean up the mess, and get out the BIG bowl, 5.5 quarts.
And, on a hunch to keep the clouds under control, I change from the beater with the scrapers to the one without scrapers. I also bring out the two-piece bowl cover that has a ramp where I can slide in dry ingredients. Of course, the way this day is going, it does not fit. It was made for a smaller bowl.
All right, I remove the half of the bowl cover without the ramp, hold the part with the ramp in place using one hand, and turn the mixer on low. With my free hand I try to put the cap on the vanilla extract. I knock the bottle over, spilling a teaspoon or so on the counter and all over the instructions. After picking up the bottle with my free hand, I’m starting wonder whether I should just go to the store, but my pride is at stake. These cookies won’t defeat me!
I am still holding the half bowl cover with one hand, so I grab a cloth and wipe up the vanilla with the other hand. I think about putting the cloth in the sink, say “heck with it,” and throw the cloth onto the instructions, 'cause.
Time to start adding the eggs. This is a little tricky because the recipe says to add one egg at a time. The first egg goes in just fine, along with about half the egg white using the ramp on the cover. I wait for the egg to mix in, pour the other egg down the ramp and into the bowl… and somehow the egg yolk misses the ramp, breaking on the counter. I sigh in frustration. Well, there's nothing on the counter but cocoa powder, so I scrape it up and put it in the bowl and let it finish mixing. Now it's time to put in the dry ingredients.
Well, the rest of the dry ingredients.
Trying to keep the unhappy clouds from happening again, I leave the mixer on low and pour a cup of the mixture down the ramp. Had I forgotten that there was egg white on that ramp? Yes. A whole bunch of the dry ingredients sticks on the ramp, but most of it gets in the bowl. But because the mixer is moving, unfortunately, my attempt at reducing the unhappy clouds is an abject failure.
Now there are angry cocoa powder clouds that make me think of Mt. Kilauea and I can barely see anything. No wonder they evacuate people from around active volcanoes.
Finally, the remaining cocoa powder and the rest of the dry ingredients get incorporated, but as before it is sticking to the shaft of the beater. I speed up the mixer to 8 to spin it off with no luck.
Time to bring out the muscle. Out comes the silicone spatula. I am partway through mixing the dough when I realize that (a) my trigger finger is bad – the right ring finger is locked on the spatula – I cannot change grip; and (b) remember when I said I stopped using the beater with the scrapers? Yeah, that would have been useful right now. About a half cup of the dry mixture is at the bottom of the bowl, unmixed.
I pull the spatula from my hand and unwind my finger with the other hand. Now I can change grip from “fist” style to how I hold a pen. I slowly (because I forgot silicone spatulas are freakishly soft!) mix the rest of the dry ingredients in. I ask my wife if she wants to taste the batter. After observing the kitchen, the bowl, the implements of destruction, and me she just licks my arm.
"Tastes good!" she says, and heads back to the living room.
The dough is now cooling in the fridge. Everything's been wiped down, washed, put in the dishwasher, or otherwise sanitized.
But it will not surprise me if my coffee tomorrow turns out to be mocha.
Top Secret Chocolate Cookies
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
- 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, unbeaten
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- White Sanding sugar, for garnish (optional)
a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer.
the eggs and vanilla extract to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.
a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and continue mixing until
the dough into TWO logs that are about 2-inches high and 1-foot long. Wrap the
dough logs in waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
oven to 350°F.
the dough is thoroughly chilled, slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds and dip
all sides in sanding sugar. Place dough rounds on a parchment paper-lined
cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
- Cool cookies on a wire rack.