Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Kitchen Lessons & Fortuitous Snowstorms
As you may or may not be aware, this part of Wisconsin received a bunch of snow over the weekend. This was a fortuitous event, as it turns out.

We knew the storm was coming, so I prepared a game plan. Early Saturday morning I headed out to the grocery store to pick up the necessary items to begin the next phase of my holiday baking schedule. Those items and a few others packed into the Jeep, Bunny Boop and I headed back home. She returned to the living room to enjoy a cartoon marathon and I to the kitchen to bake.

You see, we were warned that a power outage could come with this storm. As such, I started baking at 9 a.m. I made two batches of rocky road fudge before starting in on my pumpkin cookies. When those were completed, I started the Cran-Orange cookies. By the time that was done, the storm was in full force and I opted to call it a day.

On Sunday I was back in front of the oven, this time making coconut cookies and sugar cookies and finally prepping the dough for my chocolate snowflakes. By the time all of this was done, I was feeling hugely accomplished. Indeed, on top of all of that work I managed to also do about a million loads of dishes, all of the laundry, do the floors, and inventory the cookie tins. I was like Superwoman without the golden lasso.

All this and it was my birthday. We didn't go out to celebrate because of the storm, but that was okay with me.

Last night, however, the tide turned.

But first, an aside. Perhaps I have mentioned the fact that I am currently down one oven and am trying to shuttle hundreds of cookies through a single oven? I haven't? It is true. I have a double oven at home, but my top oven is having technical difficulties and we are waiting for parts.

On the advice of my good friend Christina, kitchen goddess, I have been utilizing the convection bake feature of my one working oven in an attempt to speed things up. With convection bake, you are supposed to be able to bake 3 cookie sheets at a time. You drop the baking temperature by 25 degrees and watch the clock to be sure of what time is correct. This has yielded mostly positive results.

That is, until last night.

My Christmas cookie tins are a melanage of flavors and colors. I try to keep the variety fresh, featuring a new cookie or two every year. Some cookies are so popular that I dare not remove them from the lineup, however. Among these every-year cookies are: gingersnaps, lemon sex cookies, and chocolate snowflakes. The Gingersnaps are done and the lemon sex cookies are sheduled for this coming weekend. It is the chocolate snowflakes that are the problem.

These cookies are wildly popular. Imagine, if you can, a brownie-bite: it is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, high quality chocolate covered in powdered sugar. What's not to like, right? They come out looking like cute little puffed mounds - or at least they are supposed to.

Last night they looked more like roadkill. I believe that the temperature can't be dropped on these cookies. They are ordinarily baked at 400 degrees - much higher than normal baking - and I have learned this lesson the hard way. I believe that the higher temperature means that the exterior of the cookie cooks faster, forming a crust of sorts around the outside. I believe this allows the puffed mound to be maintained while the insides remain chewy. Dropping the temperature, even though it was on convection, prevented this crust from forming resulting in my little mounds spreading into flat little mudpuddles, unattractive and unappetizing. Obviously, I can't be certain of my hypothesis yet.

I intend to make some more dough tonight after I get through another couple of recipes. You learn something new everyday, doncha?


posted by Phoenix | 10:22 AM


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Christina said...

Oh, NO!

I'm sorry for leading you astray.

I hope your hypothesis is correct. I have been having very good results with the convection, even with multiple bundt cakes of different sizes.

On another note: Yay for getting so much done!


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