Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sweet tooth experiments and kamikaze moths

Hard on the outside; warm and soft on the inside. People aren't so different from freshly baked cookies. Certainly people aren't generally sweet all over like a cookie often is, and nor are they always filled with melting chocolate chips (not always). But there's something about a crisp, crunchy outer that we and cookies have in common. A protective layer, perhaps, because you can't let all that sweet, mushy goodness out in the first instance. No, it's a treat for getting beyond the outer shell.

And I am talking cookies. Comfort food style choc chip cookies to be exact and as ever, a bit of playing around with recipes and ingredients. Ever had marshmallow baked into a cookie? Not me, but I was about to find out whether they melt into nothingness or hold strong.

1. Creamed butter and sugars 2. Plus egg and vanilla essence
3. In go the chocolate chips 4. Mixing in the flour

Is there anything quite as satisfying as creaming together butter and sugar? The mere amalgamation of the two ingredients, the ensuing colour change and the emergence of the light, fluffy texture. It's the simple things in life.

The mixture gets decidedly globular at the addition of an egg and vanilla essence, but nothing a good mix doesn't fix. The kid in me loves adding the chocolate chips and I've got some sweet-as Cadbury's dark chocolate chips. I always put in extra to what the recipe 'suggests' because can you ever have too many chocolate chips?

Chocolate chip cookie dough

Finally the addition of flour requires a touch of elbow grease in getting to the coveted cookie dough stage. I've never actually thought to make my own cookie dough ice cream, though it seems pretty simple from here.

Balls of cookie dough

On the left hand side are my experimental marshmallow versions. I decide to encase the marshmallow in cookie dough because I'm sure there's extreme melting to happen yet. Oven ready balls of dough become sweetly-smelling, golden crisp discs of evil comfort within minutes. Well, 20 minutes anyway.

It's at the point I open the oven door to get the tray out that one of those small, annoying fluttering moths decides its destiny is to land on the open door. Not a great idea as the 160 degree oven may well transfer some heat to the door. The kamikaze moth dies a presumably searing, uncomfortable roast to its end to be wiped away by a somewhat bemused cookie monster.

Chocolate chip cookies

The marshmallow experiment is tooth-achingly fun. The pink and white fluffs have retained shape on the surface of the cookie but not within. Hollow space occupies the former shape of the marshmallow but with a dangerously hidden sugar spike and pink tinges here and there. I would seriously recommend reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe if marshmallows are within range, as would your health professional, I think.

What do you mean there's one missing??

The experimenting doesn't quite stop there. With my second half of the batch I have another cheeky, evil addition. What more can you add to a baked sugar and fat concoction? Peanut butter, of course. It's really my best efforts not to scoff the entirety of the new and improved peanut butter choc chip cookie dough, but somehow I manage and somehow I get even more golden, rich cookies out of the oven.

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

I love the new dimension of flavour with the peanut butter, the chracteristic saltiness playing up against the sweet cookie and chocolate. Again, the amount of sugar should definitely be reduced but in terms of comfort food, it's like a warm hug in the mouth. In terms of people, it's like that person who's all hard on the outside but soft and super sweet on the inside.

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