Defeat doesn’t taste very good-part 1

I’m sitting at my computer, mulling what to write, a tropical punch Kool-Aid jammers clutched in hand (well, clutched, sucked down in a few  quick pulls, and discarded-it’s not like they contain vast amounts of liquid, or are something you really want lingering on your taste buds). While I may have another entry tomorrow touting my vast success (or at least, my mild accomplishment that I achieved via some assistance from a professional baker >_<), at the moment, I have suffered a grand defeat.

As always, many of my culinary undertakings come from seeds of ideas planted ages back, coming to fruition at utterly random times. In this case, it struck me months back that I really loved Oreos, and would love a homemade, and [mildly] more healthy approach to them; at least, I’d like to control how many various additives and chemicals are involved in the process (thanks Michael Pollan, after reading In Defense of Food, everything looked toxic to me for a while). Anyways, it became a subject of discussion with my aunt and Jess, both of whom thought it was definitely a worthy cause for me to look into (the keyword being me).

I briefly mulled (I do that a lot, you see) on what defined an Oreo. The wafer is kind of chocolately, but not especially sweet, almost salty. Crunchy and dry, to the point that milk is almost a requirement for consuming these. The filling tastes like everything I love about mass-produced icing; artificial, strangely textured and dense.

I pondered how many elements needed to be faithful for it to satisfy the same craving, and promptly forgot about it.

The other day (let’s pick Monday), I remembered my quest, and decided to undertake it. Feeling the pressure, I decided to explore the internet, and let those who have come before aid me with their knowledge. Apparently, there are quite a number of people who’ve already walked this path. That’s fine, just because someone has discovered another continent doesn’t prevent me from travelling there, and experiencing it myself (and their maps are plenty helpful).

After a quick jaunt around, the recipe from Smitten Kitchen seemed like a safe bet (cool blog as well-amazing photography). After reading through it, I decided I’d attempt it with a lower amount of sugar, trying to keep with a more purist approach to the cookies (eg. a less dominant flavour >_<), and relying more on the filling as providing the sweet focal point. I began in earnest the other night, excited at the prospect of how satisfying this would be to accomplish.

Now, I’ll say this-after getting used to a digital scale, recipes with cup amounts seem frustratingly vague, and help put me into a sloppier, complacent state. When I’m scaling with an electronic scale, I measure things to the gram. When it tells me to use a cup and a half, I may be a little less stringent. Now, combine this with my general distracted air in the kitchen, and disaster struck.

After making my dough, I was shocked to find it had the consistency of cake batter, was a pale brown (as opposed to dark chocolate coloured), and tasted far too buttery (hmmm…) Now, at this point, as I seem to bake and write this at late hours, it was around 4 in the morning, and even after significantly upping the flour, my brain was taxed to it’s limit to understand why this was doing such a poor job of coming together. Frustrated and nearing involuntary unconsciousness, I decided to throw in the towel for the night.

Conferencing with Jess the next day, she had read over my recipe, and instantly had spotted where I had made the catastrophic error…I apparently had just read the butter portion of the recipe as 1 ¼ sticks, ignoring the prefacing ½ cup + 2 tablespoons. Ugh. Yeah, so apparently some butter is packaged as 4 individually wrapped sticks. I had just blithely assumed they meant the standard block (AKA STICK) of butter one (me) purchases at the grocery store. So all said and done, I had nearly quadrupled the necessary butter in the recipe, and had sampled enough batter that I felt ill after.

Now, hypothetically, upping the other ingredients by the same ratio should hopefully solve this, but I was thoroughly put off for the moment. Tomorrow, I’ll try fixing it. If it proves untenable, I’ll dump it (which is shame, as I try not to be wasteful in my cooking or baking), and start fresh.

Part 2 to follow. It will contain success.

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