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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pastry School -Day 1 - Cookie Chaos

Oh, the first day of Pastry School.  In my mind, it would be exactly like the cooking shows I addictively watched, watch, and forever will watch….meaning that everything would seamlessly work out.  All my ingredients would be right next to me, waiting in line on the caloric diving board, ready to jump into my bowl of butter.  But, I was nowhere near as Pastry-Stealth (or coordinated) as I had imagined.  Cookie chaos ensued.

The first recipe I started attacking was for Whole Wheat Shortbread with Cocoa-Nibs.  Initially, the Kitchenaid Mixer and I had a slight disagreement (although I have seen them used bazillions of times, I’ve never had the luxury of owning one).  Our spat began like this...first, I tried to coerce the thing into creaming my butter and sugar together...with the whisk attachment.  This was a poor attachment choice. Although it did work….for 2 seconds...until all the butter was suctioned into the center of the whisk, which at this point was wildly hula-hooping around a giant bowl of air.  After spending a few minutes whacking the whisk attachment onto the side of the bowl, I realized I looked like a crazy woman (sadly, this is nothing new).  

After ceasing my whisk abuse, I finally got the wad of sweet butter out of the center of the whisk and decided to take a different approach.   I found the paddle attachment and was able to cream my butter and sugar together with ease.  In the future, I will simply ask myself “WWPDD,” ("What Would Paula Deen Do?”). 

The rest of the recipe went along smoothly, as did my variation of Peanut Butter Shortbread cookies filled with Chocolate Ganache.  

Well, the recipes went along smoothly with the slightest of hiccups, which came about when I realized that my Peanut Butter Cookies were starting to crack in the oven.  After a slight moment of sheer legume panic, my Pastry teacher (perhaps I should refer to her as my "Pastry Godmother") assured me that this was a desired effect.  Phew.

Since there are 14 total Pastry students in the class, my two-cookie contribution was only a fraction of this sweet chapter.  There were many other cookies baked up, including Meyer Lemon Sandwich Cookies, different types of basic Shortbreads (one with a Salted Caramel Sauce in the center), Ginger Cookies, Almond Shortbreads, and Cornmeal Shortbread with Currants and Rosemary.

At the end of the baking madness, we embarked on a wonderful thing...the "tasting".  The only part of the tasting session that was not awesome, was when we tasted a defective cookie...the baker had accidentally used salt instead of sugar.  Eating a Salt Cookie is not a pleasant sensation, and is unadvisable under all circumstances. 

At the end of the night, we were allowed to take home tons of cookies (and dough, which is happily in my freezer for later use).  The unclaimed cookies and doughs (and there were tons of both...which almost seems criminal) were given away to a program called "Food Runners", which was started by the school's founder, and provides food to people in need.  I can't wait till next class...I'll keep you posted =)


Nicholas said...


Anonymous said...

Cute and funny, Becky. You should send it on to your Aunt Paula. P.S. Did you know a pop-up of the Cordon Bleu came up off your blog?

Andrew said...