My dear friend, Leah and her husband Brian, live in Kimmswick - about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis. Each year, on the day that the town hosts the Apple Butter Festival, Leah and Brian have a cookout at their house, which is right in the middle of the action. As usual, I wanted to bake something to bring over and as usual I turned to Cook's Illustrated for guidance. I settled on a peppermint mocha cookie (as Leah pointed out - it would go awesome with hot chocolate!) and so, last Saturday morning I tried my hand at these simple cookies.
The sky was blue, the birds were chirping and it was a beautiful 60 degrees outside. I had no indication that the day held a baking disaster! ha! As usual, I am exaggerating. However, let me take the time to point out, yet again, why butter and it's temperature are so vital! So here I am, minding my own business creaming butter with sugar - it's a lovely consistency - fluffy and light. At this point, the directions read "add COOLED esspresso" to the butter and sugar. I dip the tip of my finger in the esspresso and notice that the water is actually still quite warm. I think to myself, "hmm too warm. The butter will melt." I then pop the measuring cup full esspresso in the freezer and decide to go do some laundry while the mixture cools. I come back about 10 minutes later and find the esspresso water to be very cold. I then just dumped it right on in to the bowl and proceeded to try and mix the esspresso with the butter...to no avail. The butter became tiny little lumps in the bowl.
Oh goodness. This is when a normal baker would just scrap the mess and start over. Not I. I was committed to mixing these ingredients together if it was the last thing I did! After adding the flour and dutch process cocoa the dough seemed to look normal again. It sure tasted fine! So I decided to roll the dough in to balls and bake it up. I assumed the balls were supposed to flatten out in the oven as they baked. No such luck! Instead, the cookie balls were just like they were before I put them in. Okay. So, I think about it for a couple of minutes and like any pro baker I decide to fake it 'till I make it. I took the rest of the pre-rolled dough balls and flattened them with a serving spoon!
What resulted from all of these kookie cookie cooking techniques is something akin to a chocolate biscotti than a moist, chewy cookie. Sigh. The crushed peppermints and peppermint flavored icing really saved the day though, and as you can see below, the kids loved it!
The moral of the story: never, ever, take your butter for granted!