I was on a day off work with my tiny sidekick yesterday and thought I’d do some baking to make the house smell nice and give the little one some pleasant childhood memories to balance the ones with the swearing and drinking. I baked Ruth’s beautiful simple chocolate cake and these crispy salted oatmeal white chocolate cookies from SmittenKitchen.com.
I enjoyed baking, as I always do, but misjudged a few things with both recipes and thought I’d share my cock-ups with you so that you’d learn from my mistakes and not suffer a trashed kitchen for sub-standard desserts. Sob.
The chocolate cake was everything Ruth said it would be – simple, quick and cheap to put together. However I realised after taking it out of the oven that it probably should be eaten straight away while it’s still warm, and that baking it at 3pm wasn’t such a smart idea. I also used milk chocolate as I prefer it to dark – but the problem with it is that the cake comes out looking a little pale and not as, well, chocolatey as you would expect from a chocolate cake. However the corner that I nibbled tasted really good and I will try warming it up this evening and serving it with some vanilla ice-cream.
The recipe for the cookies is written using American cup measurements, which are a pesky nuisance as they go by volume rather than weight. I painstakingly measured using a half cup scoop and wrote down the conversions – I will update this post later with the ingredients in case anyone fancies trying the cookies.
The butter proved to be the tricky part. The original recipe says:
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
Doesn’t that sound like an awful lot of butter? I have found that American recipe sites tend to go heavy on the butter and cream; I’ve often adjusted recipes that I’ve picked up from Allrecipes.com because they just seem much too rich and stodgy. When I’d measured out 12 tablespoons of butter, it seemed like loads (200 grams) and once I mixed up the cookie dough, it looked a bit too creamy. So I threw in another 50g of oats, and this proved to be a bit of a mistake. The biscuits are nice but a bit too dry, and the oats overwhelm the other flavours a bit too much.
On the plus side, people at work seem to like the cookies, and the white chocolate and salt combination is very good. I think next time I bake oat cookies I’ll stick to my favourite double chocolate chunky ones.
So I learned a valuable lesson – don’t get over-confident and muck around with a baking recipe the first time you try it. I also learned that Lidl and Aldi are brilliant for getting chocolate to cook with (and eat). They have a really good range of interesting varieties, priced very well: it’s often as cheap as that crappy cooking chocolate in other supermarkets. I got some 45% cocoa milk chocolate which is the perfect balance of milk and dark, and there was also large bars of good quality white chocolate, which I couldn’t find anywhere else.