French Frdays with Dorie

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's a good temperature. . . really

I was shocked when I started reading on every one's blogs today that there was no temperature listed for the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. There had to be a temperature listed, it was 350 degrees, I knew it was there, I saw it last night when I was baking the cookies. It plainly said, preheat the oven to 350. But all of these people kept saying they did not see it. What could the explanation be? Obviously, since I just got my cookbook a few weeks ago, I had a revised edition. I came home this afternoon, went over to my cookbook and read that recipe no less than three times, top to bottom. And, do you know what I learned?

I learned I do not have a revised edition. What I have is the memory of a mother whose answer to the question of what temperature should I use to bake this or cook that was always the same.

"350 is a good temperature."

And, it always was and apparently it still is. It is such a good temperature that when I don't see a temperature in a recipe I just automatically insert her old standby and just keep on going, with absolutely no break in my stride, whatsoever!

In fact, my my mother was so stuck on that temperature that after she died we found the knob on her oven was stuck on that number. She never moved it from that position and on her oven you controlled the power of the oven with one knob and the temperature of the oven with another. She would turn the oven off and on but she saw no reason to move the temperature gauge. After all, why should she? Everything she made turned out just like she wanted it to regardless of what the instructions said. She scoffed at me for following recipes and she was hard to learn from - ask her how she made something and she would take the dish from you, execute it flawlessly and then look at you guilelessly and say, "That's how I do it, I don't know why you want to measure everything." The mere fact that if I did not measure everything I could not get edible results twice in a row was unfathomable to her.

Mind you, my mother could not cook when she and my father first married. Somehow through the passage of time and lots of cooking (for lots of people) my mother managed to forget all of her trials and tribulations - well - she did remember learning how to make fried chicken, but I'll tell you about that some other day.

Rachel from "Confessions of a Tangerine Tart" chose this week's recipe of Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. I forgot to look for malt powder while I was visiting Richmond's new Whole Foods grocery store on Saturday. I was too overwhelmed with excitement to remember everything I wanted! So, I ran up to the Kroger and grabbed some Ovaltine and Whoppers to make this recipe.

Since I think milk chocolate is barely fit for human consumption I was doubtful about liking these cookies. From my perspective they were just okay. I will make them again, but I will make them smaller and I will be sure to chop the Whoppers more coarsely.

One of the issues I had with the cookies is their appearance - they don't look like the ones pictured in Dorie's book. This is always a catch-22 for me. I want pictures in my cookbooks because I want to know what my items are supposed to look like, but if my items don't turn out just like the pictures, I consider them failures. If I can figure out why my things don't match the photos, I can usually deal with it. If, God forbid, the food actually doesn't taste good - well, let's not even go there (I have visions of Orange Cloud dancing in my head!) - another tale for another day! My cookies were smooth - boring - not rough and chunky looking - they were like smooth unshaven boys - not craggy interesting men!

The directions for this recipe say to chop the Whoppers coarsely. My tiny little anal brain has a hard time with that instruction. I interpret that to be slightly less chopping than complete annihilation - I guarantee that is not what Dorie intended. I rather suspect that quartering the Whoppers or cutting them into thirds is more than adequate. If you cut them as drasticallyas I did they end up melting (almost disappearing) into the cookie as it bakes. This gives it a bit of a caramelized taste - think of those random Whoppers that did not crunch when you bit into them, but were rather chewy and they spread - a lot as they were baking - committing the cardinal sin of touching each other as they baked! Bleech!

To my taste, they were too milky - the bittersweet chunks did not cut through the sweetness of the malt and the milk chocolate coating (gag me). However, I had one person tell me that it was the kind of cookie he would pay money for at a bakery and two people told me they thought they were fantastic. (Of course, some people will say anything to keep home-made treats coming regularly!)

Everyone I work with has resigned themselves to eating treats on multiple days of the week until I catch up with the others in TWD. I just hope they can adjust once I am on the regular schedule!


debbie said...

As George and I experienced the "Orange Cloud" you mention in your latest entry I will be sure you keep it factual for your blog readers:):) Although we no longer live close enough for me to taste all your desserts I thoroughly enjoy reading your entries.


Heidi said...

Your mother may have been on to something with the 350°F thing. If I start preheating my oven without having the recipe readily accessible, I preheat to 350°, figuring I can always go up or down a little! It's like a default setting. And, like you, I have extreme issues with "coarsely chopped". The only way anything gets coarsely chopped at my house is when I purchase the prechopped nuts!