Friday, May 27, 2011

i hate baking cocoa.

Well, not really. But it is quite possibly the only relationship in my life I can define as love/hate. There are far too many dimensions to baking cocoa, and an even longer list of things that can go wrong when baking with it. So normally my baking cocoa stays tucked away in my cabinets, growing older and richer over time. And then of course there comes the occasional recipe I feel like playing around with-- whether it be my Chocolate Peanut Butter Shaysters, Tuxedo Chip Cookies, or even just a chocolate cheesecake. I head to the store to scrounge up some supplies...and inevitably buy yet another can of said baking cocoa! So now the oldie has a new younger sibling to hang out in the cobwebs with.

This week I found myself with a bag of white chocolate chips. I also found myself unwilling to play it safe with a simple white-choclate macadamia nut cookie. So of course I began my google search while at work, pulling ideas from a few co-workers. And all I could find were recipes for cookies with nuts, or cocoa powder. At first I wondered, why in the world would we treat something as rich as white chocolate so poorly? And then I realized...because it's not really chocolate at all. We just think it is because it's perfectly molded into a creamy texture. But this is all beside the point. I decided I would try to make a decadent cookie recipe that would match the rich flavor of the poser chocolate. And this is where I turned to my baking cocoa. Things would have started out normally but when I grabbed my container of flour I realized I wouldn't have enough for a whole batch. So I decided on making a half-recipe. And for those of you who bake, or who at least know how particular baking tends to be, this can get tricky. Doubling or cutting the recipe in half can drastically alter the consistency of any recipe, though logic is screaming out to tell me otherwise.

If I use two-thirds of a cup of something in a regular recipe, why wouldn't I use one-third for a half recipe? But you just can't. It has to be cut in half...and then played with ever so lightly. And so the process began.

Of course the cocoa gave me issues right off the bat and spilled all over the counter. And this is why I hate baking cocoa:

1. It sticks to anything and everything it touches.
2. When used with a mixer, it will fly into the air like dust particles and stain your white MacBook. (just me? okay.)
3. The canister it comes in is barely big enough to fit a quarter cup measure in, and most chocolate recipes call for at least a third of a cup.
4. It will always spill. On white counter tops. On white tiles. On anything white.
5. It is the most dense powder I have ever worked with, but only seems to dry out the dough instead of thickening it.

For years I've tried to perfect recipes so that I can bypass such an ingredient and opt for the more seductive sounding one; melted chocolate. But even then, the consistency comes out all wrong. So why do I continue to bake with such a pain-in-the-butt ingredient? Because of the perks...

1. A rich and creamy batter comparable to chocolate mousse, only in a more sinful form.
2. The mature flavor of the chocolate is only experienced when baked. (Trust. If you eat a spoonful of this stuff you will definitely choke on the bitterness)
3. The cookie somehow remains soft throughout baking, no matter if you cut the time short or go longer.
4. Licking the spatula after mixing is the most sinfully blissful experience in the world.
5. The sexy chocolate smile that comes after biting into a hot cookie.

Besides, where else can you get something as dark and sweet as this? (...aside from on South Beach during Black Beach Week of course.)

The only thing more fun than dressing up a sugary cookie during Christmas is dressing up a chocolate cookie with loads and loads of rich white chocolate. So that's just what I did tonight...chocolate chips mixed in and melted on top in a buttercream overload. Who says Friday nights can't be sexy while staying at home?

Bon appétit mes chéris. Je dois faire la vaisselle maintenant.

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