Saturday, October 6, 2007

Baking with Chunks - Part II

I got down to the real baking! For readers looking for recipes, I am afraid I can't offer you much (yes, you are free to click on another blog link), because I have recently decided to give a shot at setting up a cookie shop (had a sudden awakening). Most of the recipes I'll be trying out in the next few months would be those I'm keen to use for my shop. So, I'm going to evolve into a cookie-ninja and you'll find me posting pictures with vivid descriptions but elusive, evasive references (if at all) to the recipes. Yes, call me awful, selfish, annoying, but I had kept those precious recipes in my 10-over year-old notebook with a tingling thought during my teens that I could set up a bakery one day, and like the baker-owners all say, "Ah.. that's my secret recipe." You won't deprive of having a chance (no matter how slim) to say that one day yup? ^___^

While this blog have never really been targeted to garner a huge audience (Yup, I think and write like I would love to read, and it serves more as my own kitchen diary). Those who have been reading regularly (I'm very thankful) would know they can skip the first few paragraphs because I never get to the point quickly. Alright point taken, let's get to it!

I have been baking a chocolate cookie with different types of chocolate chunks. I had used Valrhona's Guanaja before, and now recently tried the same recipe with Araguani, thinking its floral notes and subtle bitterness would go well with some cookie sweetness. The cookie is still good, but Guanaja's slight citrus sourness had a better go with this ultra chocolatey treat. (Personal take of course!)

I tried a sister cookie (yes I treat white chocolate and strawberries as feminine objects). It's really hard to get dried strawberries (please let me know if you know!). I emptied these morsels from an entire box of Post's cereal, and they were weightless on an digital scale! They rarely filled half a cup.

There are some distributors carrying freezed dried fruit (which researchers have reported to retain high levels of nutrients), but we have to order by the kg.

These cookies turn out quite crisp on the outside, and some bigger choc chunks remain liquidy, giving slight chewy centre. Ever wondered why some cookies turn out crispy and thin, some thick and chewy? Ah... mystery mystery. I have a thing for permutations and possibilities. I variate the same core recipe with difference types of sugars, flours, fats, and alter the amounts slightly. I would also bake the same dough under different conditions (temp. and time). Of course, with experimentation comes loads of failures and some nice surprises. Please check out this great information site on chocolate chip cookie for the theory part of it! The practical side of things: You just have to get down to doing it. The same dough produces different textures from different handlings, different ovens (tricky, but it's the whole mystifying nature of baking that gives you the kick ne? ^_-)

The second best part of baking goodies is definitely packaging them! Eating them comes a close 3rd. Yes I am one of those weird ones who doesn't eat much of what I make, my taste buds are numbed from the long hours of baking (and test tasting). These are carefully packaged to be given out to friends to "test-run" for me.

And you absolutely have to eat cookies with chilled milk. The duo sends a lovely cold jot of crumbliness, crunch, melting-ful of sensation, milky goodness, loads to chew and starts a new day like it's going to be a real good day.


Chelsea said...

Hi K,

It's funny you've dreamed about opening a cookie shop as well. My etsy name (cheaperbythedozen)is something I think would be a good bakery shop name, no, not a true bakery, just a cookie-ery, one day. There are a few in my local area that have been successful. The first opened near a University. It's called Smart Cookie and their business is mostly ice cream cookie sandwiches or cookies and milk or cookies and hot chocolate. But their main service is delicious cookies.

I love your pictures. I've recently started falling in love with cupcakes in addition to cookies. Although cookies are 10x easier to transport, cupcakes are just the perfect mixture of cake and frosting and, like, cookies, the mixing of different flavors is endless (check out - a lot of flavors would be GREAT experiments for you).

I'll continue to cheer you on in your cookie capers!

Karen said...

Dear Chelsea,

Thank you so much for your encouragement! I'm going to start really small, and it's really great to know fellow bakers with the same dreams and passions. I have some cupcake links which I hope to send you, and I'll leave them on your blog. Thank you again for coming round and for your hearty wishings! I wish you success in your cookie-ery too! :)