Cookie Super Hero (AKA, How Save Cookies from a Burning Oven)

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!

48 thoughts on “Cookie Super Hero (AKA, How Save Cookies from a Burning Oven)

  1. I MUST set a timer, or I’m guaranteed to forget whatever’s in the oven. I burnt a lot of expensive pecans last week. Good save! They look delicious.

  2. You are totally inspiring! I can’t believe the gorgeous dessert you managed to create from a batch of ruined cookies. You never cease to amaze me – they look absolutely delicious, and much more special and unique than a plain old sugar cookie. Well done!

  3. Hi Hannah! Two things:

    1. How did you get snow to fall on your blog. Sweet!
    2. Those cookies look adorable and yummy, I will try that trick when I burn a batch of cookies (which I inescapably will do, with all the baking projects I want to do!!)


  4. Love the snow around here! The first flakes in Chicago are falling right this second! it came just in time for our Christmas Carol sing at work today (you heard me right, once a year we sing Christmas Carol’s during the work day! all the coworkers that play instruments assemble into a little orchestra too — it’s amazing to seeing a VP playing a trombone!)

    I just won a copy of Go Dairy Free from Alisa’s amazing week of cookbook giveaways, and to my excitement she so graciously included a copy of your book! Your book is seriously going to revamp my holiday sweets, well and my year-round sweets, there are so many recipes I can’t wait to try. I’m going to get to baking now, and hopefully get to doing a write up soon. Oh, and thanks again for the tofu turkey recipe, they were a hit!

  5. I love that crazy quick-thinking work! It’s definitely going to be filed in the back of my brain to use in the future. I do hate wasting a good, but overcooked dough.

  6. What a great idea! My backup plan would have been more along the lines of “enjoy this crispy cookie, dear friends!”…but yours definitely sounds much much better!!

    Also, I love the snow! :)

  7. Wow- I would never have thought to repurpose the cookies like that. It’s such a good idea that I wish I had some overcooked cookies to try it with.

  8. Nice save! This is a great reminder to ‘just go with the flow’, make do with what you have, and not flip out over getting everything to conform to the image of perfection you might have in your head. May everyone have a low-stress holiday season.

    BTW, love the snowy header. It’s making me happy since snow has yet to hit the California coast (I’m still wishing though).

  9. i’m kind of in awe. your cleverness knows no bounds. thanks so much! i can guarantee that i’ll be using this trick sometime in the future.

  10. Wow, I’m impressed Hannah. I never would have thought of that. I’ve ruined cookies plenty of times. I usually just throw them out and am cranky afterwards, lol.

    (By the way, I made your Samosa Potato Salad and pancake recipe this week. Both were excellent!)

  11. What can I say, Hannah. What a save! So clever. I would have started all over again, and lost sleep over it, to boot!

  12. What an interesting way to save your cookies! Usually I just take a knife and painstakingly try to scrape off the burnt surfaces. But, I think I’ll definitely try it out your way next time. Just wondering though, is there a trace of bitterness in the newly reformed batch of cookies from being burnt the first time around?

  13. What a creative idea, Hannah! I hate hate waste, so this will be good to know should I mess up any holiday cookies. By the way, thank you so much for your nice message on my blog. I wanted you to know that I just got a review copy of your book. Sadly, I won’t get to test/post about it until mid-Spring, but I’ve flagged over half the recipes and am so excited to try them!

  14. I loved this post, particularly because you’re an amazing writer, and that description of you in the kitchen…I almost thought that was ME myself! I totally can relate to burned items in ovens and a crazy kitchen.

    Nice save, though! you’re a total genius!

  15. Now if you can figure out how to rescue a huge tray of cookies that hit the floor, scattering its contents. Yes, I did that last night. :(

  16. If your cookies are too dry from over-baking then put them in a sealed container with a fresh piece of bread; the cookies absorb the moisture from it and become nice and soft. I have noticed it to work within a few hours.. :D

  17. This trick has saved me at least two different times since you posted it and each time I’m so grateful you wrote this post. Right now I’m hoping it will turn my failed banana muffins (too gooey but delicious) into peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies. I’ll find out in 12 more minutes!

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