Baking and cooking away with the oven cranked to the upper 300′s and stainless steel pots and pans occupying more than half of the burners on the stove, there were a lot of projects to juggle at once. Slowly turning a deeper shade of golden amber, the caramel bubbling in a high-sided pan needs near constant attention, demanding to be swirled and coddled while threatening to burn, requiring more love than a 5-year old on the edge of a temper tantrum. Then there was the saucepan of margarine, still in the early stages of melting, destined to be cooked down to a nutty hazelnut hue for browned butter, which could be ignored for the most part right now. Directly behind that sat sugar syrup, having already rocketed up to the soft ball stage, and now cooling its heels until it levels out around 130, ready to be beaten into a luscious chocolate fudge. But what was I forgetting? Things were pretty well under control, all things considered, and I was wrapping up that caramel with a finishing pinch of salt when it hit me: The oven.
I forgot all about the contents of the oven.
Dropping my utensils with a clatter on the granite counter, I heaved open the door with a great energetic flourish, relieved that at least nothing had burnt, per say, and the smoke detectors weren’t wailing with displeasure. Although I can’t say as much for myself.
Augh, the coookies are ruined, they’re way too dark! Examining each dark brown puck with a critical eye, there was no way I could pass these overcooked biscuits off as light and lovely sugar cookies. Now, it would be hours of mixing, chilling dough, rolling, cutting, and baking again to make up for my mistake, and there simply weren’t enough hours in the day left.
What’s to be done? Toss out the offending cookies and start again, forgoing sleep for yet another night? Just say “screw it all” and show up to the holiday party empty-handed? Weighing the pros and cons, possibilities and improbabilities after getting over my initial hissy fit, it hit me that there was a way around both undesirable scenarios. Acting quickly while the offending cookies were still warm, I plucked each and every one off of their cozy silpats and chucked them straight into the food processor. Blitzed to a fine powder, the dry and overdone wafers were already looking better. On top of that dry mess, a serious scoop of cocoa powder obscured the fact that these should have been a much more elegant shade of light tan, and an additional glug or two of oil brought new moisture back into those previously desert-dry disks. Finally, drizzling in just enough soymilk to bring the whole thing together, like magic, I had a brand new cookie dough, ready to hit the oven [again.]
It may sound crazy, but it ultimately saved my butt, and got me into bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Though not the prettiest cookies to be plattered, sandwiched together with a generous dollop of ganache at the center, they weren’t left wanting in the flavor department.
So impressed at the results of this hair-brained scheme, I just had to share it near and far. Should you find you’re in need of a similar quick fix when it comes time to churn out the holiday baked goods, or any time for that matter, just suspend disbelief, don’t chuck your overdone treats into the trash, and give this trick a try. It might save you a lot of stress, and a sleepless night, too!