Last weekend when I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes I used my favourite Chocolate Frosting recipe. What I’ve always loved about it was that it was made from melted bittersweet chocolate. I know the differences between types of chocolates, cocoas, etc, and how using cocoa vs. using melted chocolate will be just as creamy in a frosting as long as you have the right amount of butter and sugar. So maybe it’s a mental thing, but a frosting made of melted bittersweet chocolate tastes so much creamier, so much more chocolately to me than any other chocolate frosting I have made.
Maybe I’m just doing the cocoa type wrong.
Either way, I love that frosting. I discovered it in Bon Appetit Magazine as part of their Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake Recipe. Yup, chocolate mayonnaise.
I remember the face Trevor made the first time he heard of such a thing. Trevor hates mayonnaise. He hates the thought of mayonnaise. He describes it as “Ew. Oily. Gross.” He was thoroughly disturbed and asked me to make sure I never made him eat it. I told him I would make sure I did. Due to an endearing amount of trust he has for me and the baked goods I produce, he was cautiously accepting of this fate. Luckily for both of us, I did not fail him.
Although Trevor and I both love essentially every type of dessert we have ever encountered, when it comes to our ultimate preferences, I would describe Trevor’s and my dessert tastes in opposing seasons.
I am a winter dessert eater. The desserts from this category would never fail to comfort you while snow collected outside your window. Descriptors related to this would be “rich”, “dark”, “heavy” and common ingredients would include chocolate (the darker the better), caramel, cream and daunting amounts of butter and sugar.
Trevor is a summer dessert eater. The desserts in this category are best eaten with all the windows open, perhaps with a puppy nearby, sunbathing on the carpet. His descriptors would be “light”, “tangy”, “fresh” and his most common ingredients would be fruit (especially citrus or berries), coconut and some sort of flakey and/or fluffy pastry.
After all this raw cookie dough, oreos, heavy cream, butter sauce… I figured it was time I did Trevor a solid and let him pick something. Summer just started afterall.
He picked blueberry turnovers.
One recipe I will happily make repeatedly is my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I started with the standard Nestle Toll House, back of the chocolate chip bag recipe and have been altering it from time to time over the last 6 years. Some ideas I kept, some steps I added, and some things I will never try again.
A slice of my learning:
- If your cookies spread too thin during baking, increase your flour and don’t use an insulated cookie sheet.
- Refrigerating your dough for an hour or two before baking results in thicker cookies with better flavour.
- If someone tells you to replace your baking soda with powder, completely ignore them if you like your cookies dense. Like cakey cookies? Go for it. Oh, and don’t eat my cookies.
I like my cookies thick, dense, and on the more undone side. Really, I like my cookies as undone as possible without still being dough.
Perhaps this means that the key to my happiness is an application of my cookie dough where it can just live on happily as dough, but in a way more sociably acceptable way than me on the couch with a spoon.
Not that that’s happened. Ever.
I had a hankering for scones.
The problem with scones is how clearly designated they are to breakfast.. and maybe tea time. I often choose to smudge the meal lines, eating pancakes for dinner or cereal for dessert.. (mmm chocolate cheerios…) but something about the standard scone makes it so very breakfast for me. Perhaps it’s how “proper” a scone feels and its association with Britain. If you’re not eating it at breakfast, there better be a teacup in your other hand, or somewhere out there the Queen would just know, a frown slowly drifting across her face.
Perhaps I’m being a little theatrical here, but just to be safe, what if you could do something to change this view? Jazzed it up some so it would already be a little more laid back and little less proper by the time you got to it. Something that said, nuh uh, no tea drinking with me, you need milk. Maybe even some black coffee. Or tea if you really want to… y’know, whatever, s’cool. What could possibly give it this laid back attitude?
Some people were surprised when I became a baker in university due to my tendency to avoid the stove. Because of my extreme sweet tooth, most were not. When I was 2 years old, I pushed a dining chair up to the kitchen counter so I could climb up on to it and open the higher cupboards where my mom kept the sugar bowl. So I could eat straight from it.
I knew what I liked.
However, this is misleading as it implies that I love baking most in order to have an endless supply of goodies for myself. Now, I really do love eating my own freshly baked goods, but if I ate everything I made as often as I made it, I’d be a very rolly polly little lady.
Honestly, my favourite thing about baking is giving my goodies away. The look on others’ faces when they see what I’ve made to share with them. The moment when they take their first bite of something that I’ve really executed well. It’s somehow more satisfying than the touch of chocolate on my own tongue (don’t tell chocolate I said that).
My brother once had an online alias of “Burnt Cream”. I thought it was particularly strange and asked him what it was all about. He explained to me that it was the english translation of “Creme Brûlée”, his latest favourite dessert. I realized that I had never had it before. I wasn’t a huge egg fan at the time (I blame my insolent youth for not realizing this was crazy sooner) so it was not unusual that I’d never tried it, but I figured, if my big brother considered it a favourite, I had to give it a chance.
From the moment I cracked my first caramelized sugar crust, the distinct, crisp snap as my spoon broke through, I was sold. The smooth, thick, eggy custard under a shell of thin torched sugar, fragile like crystal… the combination of the two intrigued me. The feel of hard sugar crunching between my teeth as smooth custard moved across my tongue.. it taught me a thing or two about contrasting textures.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I had to make the dessert myself one day. Unfortunately, it took me much longer to actually do it.
If you could bathe yourself in a warm, oozey sauce of butter, sugar and vanilla, would you? Well, maybe not, it would probably clog your pores, take a lot of time and effort to get it all off later… all sorts of those annoying little consequences that stop us from doing ridiculous(ly awesome?) things. Now what if you were a soft delicious pound cake instead? Maybe exactly what you need is to submerge yourself in buttery sugary goodness… because hey, already being chock full of butter and sugar means that soaking in more could only make you better. Right?
This was my thought process when I learned about the Kentucky Butter Cake. A pretty standard sounding buttermilk pound cake baked in a 10 inch bundt pan… taken to glorious new heights by getting stabbed repeatedly with a chopstick, butter sauce poured all over it and left overnight as the sauce soaks into the cake creating an inner core of extra moist, richness. Oh my.