I live a pretty charmed life. I admit it. I get to bake batches of cookies and muffins and tarts every week. This week alone I have baked a variation of the whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from VCIYCJ, the vegan and gluten free muffins from Naked Foods (chocolate orange raspberry variation), and about 150 shortcrust fruit and custard tarts. And it’s only Wednesday. I get to pick out the recipes I want to make, the ingredients that look best from the market, and I even get to be the first to sample everything, warm and melty straight from the oven. Then, I get to pack one or two for my loves and I leave the rest at work to contribute to someone else’s waistline. It’s an ideal scenario for everyone involved.
I am not going to share a recipe with you today. Instead, I will share some insight I have gained in my experience as a professional cookie sampler. I mean, baker. That’s right.
- The first batch never works out as well as subsequent batches. Keep the first batch small.
- The darkest chocolates don’t melt as nicely or taste as good in baked goods as they do plain. Stick to no higher than 70% cocoa for most applications.
- Sample your dough. You are a vegan baker, there is nothing gross or potentially fatal in your dough, so give it a taste and see how you feel about it before sticking it in the oven.
- In fact, taste all the things before putting them in your dough. Your sugar, your salt, your soymilk, your chocolate. Much sampling is required. This prevents disasters, especially if you’re cooking for 300 and the sugar is right next to the salt.
- Cook with coconut oil as your fat, coconut milk as your liquid, and chopped good-quality chocolate instead of chocolate chips.
- Always add more chocolate and more vanilla than called for, at least by half.
- Don’t overwork your dough. Beat the heck out of your wet and dry ingredients when they are separate, but only delicate lady fingers should touch the two together. Unless you’re cooking gluten free, in which case go for it.
- Vegan things like to stick more than non vegan things, and gluten free things like to fall apart with alarming ease. Use muffin liners, and give them a spray with oil to be extra sure.
- It things are sticking, let them sit in their pans a bit before transferring them to a cooking rack. They’ll usually loosen up a bit.
- There is always a fail-cookie, -muffin, -tart. It happens with every batch. It can usually be identified by its weird shape, unwillingness to unstick itself from the pan, or by just plain falling apart when you go to pick it up. Your job, as a professional in the kitchen, is to dispose of the evidence as quickly as possible by consuming all trace of it.
That is all for today, MoFo-ers! 150 more tarts await me in the morning. I will dream of tiny dancing fruits. You, my friend, should dream of chocolate.