Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Creamed Cookies

I feel like I’m learning to live with less sleep – I didn’t even drink coffee at work yesterday, and I felt like I was functioning fine. Although, I did take a 1.5 hour nap after school, and I struggled a bit after that. Luckily, Rico brought me a vanilla latte (she works at Starbucks), and that was really good. But I think this might be okay – when I’m busy, I don’t feel as tired. We'll see how today goes - I went to sleep around 1am, and I think I remember waking up a lot during the night. And I already miss working out. I see the beautiful sky reflecting against the lake and skyline and people dressed in shorts and sneakers, and I think, oh man I wish I could go running.
We made cookies Tuesday night – Chocolate Chip and Spritz. We were also supposed to make Oatmeal Raisin, but apparently our oats did not come in. Again, it’s not like that is a hard item to get or used infrequently in kitchens – why doesn’t purchasing work properly at a culinary school?

Both cookies use the creaming method. We worked individually today because the school takes student cookie products and uses them for meetings, open houses, and orientations. Since we worked individually and I didn't pick up a mixing bowl until after I had my mise en place, I got stuck with a baby mixer.
I consider these kind of lousy professional mixers. As you can see, it is tiny. And not very strong.
Cookie dough is really soft, so it's okay to use these machines for that, but still, it was an irritating process. I just didn't like it as well as the bigger ones.
Here's my large tray of chocolate chip cookies.
These are a flat Tablespoon portion sized (as opposed to rounded). If they spread flat, it means your dough was too soft/warm. If you don't work fast enough portioning them out, just stick the pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes until they're harder again. As you can see, I tried to fit too many onto the pan - after this I still had dough left over, so I ended up needing another pan anyway, but they were getting soft so i couldn't move the portioned dough... No big deal, they turned out the right shape and size. Even though we weren't supposed to "discard" any until the good ones had been packaged for storage, I took my quarter sheet pan of six to take home and bring to work.
These are Spritz cookies. This is a very basic recipe where the point is the shape and additions. They can be made into rosettes:
figure 8's:
or shells.
They can then have drops of jam added (rosettes and figure 8's),
or dipped in chocolate and/or nuts (all).
Or you just leave some plain. My piping has really improved since Culinary Skills I. I haven't been practicing, but I think maybe this stuff all just becomes easier the more you work with everything and learn basic rules with the tools. Or maybe I'm just a natural.... ha. I liked these in their pre-baking state - the piping is so clear. Then they spread a little when baking and become more flat. Chef says that's what they're suppsoed to do, but I just don't think they look as pretty. As soon as they start to show color on the edges, pull them out and cool.
With all cookies (and everything else, really), there is carry-over cooking, so you want to bake almost just under and then pull out. Then cool on the sheet pan in a cooling rack. This is obviously not possible in a home kitchen, so I usually do about 1 min on the pan, and then move to wire racks.

Lessons Learned:
Never put oil or butter a pan for cookies. Just use parchment paper. There is enough fat in cookies to make them not stick to the pan.
Confectioner’s sugar is just regular sugar ground down. There are two types of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar when bought commercially – 6x and 10x. It is the degree of how many times the sugar is ground down. Use 6x when the sugar will be mixed into the dough. Use 10x when it will be visible, either for dusting or in frosting.
Chefs always use unsalted butter when baking cookies, as it gives them more control over how much salt goes into the cookies. However, if you are using a cookbook, judge based on what the recipe says, as most are written for home cooks who are likely to have salted butter in their fridges.

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