Sunday, August 12, 2012

World's Worst Cookies

Well, for those of you getting frustrated with my competency in the kitchen, here's a treat for you. As an aside, is there an opposite to "ineptitude"? I'm pretty sure "eptitude" isn't a word. Just wondering if there's a positive root word for ineptitude. Ok, moving on...

So, the Cake Boss is failing me. I know it's been a while since I've baked from the Cake Boss cookbook because I got distracted by the really yummy recipes in Martha and America's Test Kitchen. So I decided that it was time to get back to this book. This is the only cookbook that I am cooking through in order so that meant that the next cookies in the book were Tarelles (i.e. vanilla cookies). Ok, vanilla cookies. Not terribly interesting but I've had good vanilla cookies before so why not? I had a slight problem with these because the recipe calls for pastry flour and I couldn't find pastry flour in any of my supermarkets. However, the recipe does say that all-purpose flour can be substituted so I didn't think too much of it.

First step was to mix together sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Easy. Made a bit of a mess with the vanilla but no big deal there. Next step was to add shortening. This was almost a big problem because I was almost 1/2 a cup short! I say almost because I finished off my container of Crisco and thought I had another but did not. Eventually I found Crisco sticks in my cabinet though. Success! By the way, I'm not a Crisco diva that I need to have the sticks but I had a coupon for them so I bought them.

Then I had to paddle in some milk until "thoroughly absorbed". I disagree with that "thoroughly absorbed" assessment. I was mixing it like crazy but it still looked like watery cottage cheese for several minutes. It wasn't very attractive. But fine, eventually, I managed to get it combined-ish. Add flour and baking powder and I'm all done with the actual combining of ingredients.

Now comes the super fun part. I had to roll out these cookies into rings. There were very specific directions about rolling half the dough into a 30 inch rope and then cutting pieces based on another measurement and then rolling those out and initially, I sort of followed that. It was pretty unnecessary though, as long as you're confident that you can form uniform-sized cookies. So the measurements weren't my problem. My problem was the dough itself. Rolling ropes of dough can be really awful if you've got a super sticky dough or a very crumbly dough (both of which I've dealt with and documented here) but this dough was neither of those things. It's hard to describe though. It didn't stick to the surface and it didn't stick to my hands. It also did not stick to itself which made forming complete rings basically impossible. The other problem is that it kept falling apart as I rolled it. I don't mean that it crumbled. I mean that, as I rolled a rope of dough, if I rolled any piece too thinly, it became two ropes. This made the concept of making a "Twisty Tarelle" completely impossible. To do that, I had to fold the dough rope in half and then roll it against the work surface so it would make a spiral. It did not. It just broke. A lot. After trying this for several minutes, I just gave up and stuck to the regular tarelles.

So eventually, I delicately rolled out two cookie trays' worth of these cookies. And realized that I had barely used half the dough. Awesome. I baked them for the appropriate amount of time and until the bottoms were slightly browned as specified. Pretty sure they were baked perfectly. I put them on the racks to cool while I rolled the rest of the cookies. No big problems there besides those already mentioned. At this point though, I had the sneaking suspicion that these cookies might be a bit bland so I decided to add some sprinkles. The picture shows some of the cookies with sprinkles so why not? I'll tell you why not. Because sprinkles don't stick to the cookies. I tried. The only way to get the sprinkles to stick was to really press them into the dough which destroyed the shape of the cookie so after attempting this with three cookies, I gave up. Here's a picture of the finished product before I give you a taste assessment though:

These cookies taste bad. I had my boyfriend taste one at the same time as me and we looked at each other and he said, "they're not bad..." which usually means they're not good. I was a half step away from spitting mine out. They are so DRY. There's no moisture to them so it's like trying to eat seven saltines or a mouthful of flour or something. I've only had this type of texture once before when I tasted a cookie and it crumbled to dust in my mouth and I almost choked on the cookie dust. At least I didn't make those cookies though. Those may be worse. These are really bad too though. I don't even know how I should have made them better.

So at this point, I'm pretty displeased with Cake Boss. His cookies are very hit or miss. I'm thinking that I'll try to make one of his pastries next to see if he's better with those. These cookies though...thumbs down. So, anyone want some terrible cookies? I have about 40 of them and nobody to eat them! Seriously, suggestions of what to do with these are welcome. I don't know if I want to subject anyone I like to them though. Sigh. What a disappointment.

Oh, and let me just put in a plug for the contest I've entered. I am competing in's 2 minute thesis contest. If I get enough votes, I will get my thesis turned into a comic which would be totally cool. Voting ends on August 20 so if you would please vote and share with your friends to extend my network of voters, that'd be terrific. Thanks in advance and I promise, if I win, there will be cookie sharing. Here's the link to vote: The title of my audio clip is "[Intentionally Left Missing]"

A Disney Moment: Hunchback of Notre Dame

There's no way to sum up this movie besides this statement: My sister and I rented this movie from the library FIVE times. That's right. For about a month and a half, we would rent Hunchback and then stare at it and not want to watch it. We really really didn't want to watch this movie. Finally, we settled down to get it over with (I think we may have rewarded ourselves with fast food first) and well, I guess I didn't hate it quite as much as I thought I would. Which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

I don't really know what bothers me about this film. The villain isn't exactly scary. That's not to say that he isn't evil. He's probably the most evil Disney villain what with all the fire and brimstone and wanting to burn gypsies. But unless you're an adult and thinking "he's one amoral SOB" then he doesn't particularly inspire fear. I will always argue that Ursula is a better villain than Frollo is.

I think the movie tries to cram too many plot lines in and I don't really care for the other male protagonist (you know, the one that isn't Quasimodo that I can't remember the name of). The music is ok and the animation is fine but it just never grabbed me. Also, the gargoyles. Are they just Quasimodo's subconscious speaking or are they really alive? This bugged me. I don't mind if we have talking statues but the ambiguity of it made me uneasy. So, in this grouping, it's a 5/5. But at least we're done with it and the librarians can stop thinking that we're unhealthily obsessed with Hunchback.

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