My first attempt at cooking something today, and I think I’ve learned something. So, I went with cookies. More baking than cooking. But you get what I mean: it’s a step towards actually doing something.
I began by picking up what few ingredients weren’t in the house already: the golden caster sugar, the chocolate and the unsalted butter. That was the easy part. Getting back to the house, I set up, and forgot to actually take everything out first. That would have made the process a lot easier, but it wasn’t the only thing I did wrong.
Chopping the chocolate, I didn’t have many problems beyond it being annoying and the chocolate semi-melting onto my hands. Nothing a quick clean couldn’t fix. However, I soon discovered that butter that’s been out of a fridge for an hour and soft butter aren’t the same thing. My brother’s probably less-than-advised method of making it soft was to use steam. Next time, I’ll just leave it out a bit.
Mixing it with the sugar was easy, once it was soft. Adding the flour was messy, but simple enough. The salt, again, was easy to work with. The same goes for the vanilla.
But the egg. My God, I do not like eggs.
I cracked it fine. It was separating it that was the problem. In the end, I had to break two eggs. The first completely smashed apart as I attempted to gently prise the shell apart. Or, exploded. Whatever way you want to word it, it ended up all over my hands. It’s another thing I need to work on. I’ll add that to the list, along with take everything out in advance and leave the butter out to soften.
Don’t worry, I’m not done learning. I did eventually get the egg yoke into the mix, and getting the dough mixed was easy enough. Folding in the chocolate was also easy.
Then it came to putting it on trays. The recipe said to leave room for the mix to expand in the oven… I didn’t leave enough. The cookies, when I took them out twelve minutes later had grown into each other. So, that’s lesson number four: give the dough room to grow.
However, despite these set-backs, I had my cookies!
I made twenty from the mixture, and should have spaced them out a bit more, but I think they turned out quite alright! My family love them, which is nice to hear. My mum says they’re like Marks and Spencer cookies. My older brother texted saying “Ermahgerd, cerkees!” So I think they went down well.
How do you do your cookies? I’m always on the lookout for fun recipes to try. I can’t share the recipe (i.e. exact measurements) for these, not without the consent of Jane Hornby and/or Phaidon, but it’s worth checking out.
Adding up the(self-raising) flour, the eggs (6, but you only need 1), the salt, the sugar and the butter, it’ll cost about ten euro. This leaves plenty of flour, salt and sugar, and five eggs, to use in other dishes, but most of my butter was used in this. The chocolate depends on what you buy. I got a Dairy Milk bar for two euro and fifty cent, and had some left to spare. The biggest expense is the vanilla extract, of which the only bottle (a large bottle, mind you) available was over seven euro. However, with minimal use of it in the recipe, there’s plenty left to spare.
What this amounts to is a euro per cookie, if (and only if) you don’t have any of the ingredients to begin with. The second time around – and there probably will be a second time around – it will cost much less per cookie, given the left over ingredients from this time around. If I were to make more tomorrow, I’d just need more butter and more chocolate, because I still have plenty of everything else left.
What did I learn from this?
At the end of the day, I learned five things from this experience:
- Butter needs time to get soft.
- I can’t separate eggs very well.
- I need to take everything out in advance.
- I need to give the cookies more room on the tray.
- There’s a lot of cleaning up involved when you don’t do it right.
There’s always next time, eh?