Wednesday, March 19, 2014

milk and cookie shot

I would like to preface this by saying I will never make these again. So, don't ask, beg, or bargain because it's not happening.. ever. But, I will share my journey with you. Prepare yourself for a novel. It's a doozy.

At SXSW, Dominique Ansel (creator of the ever-so-popular cronut) debuted his latest genius: the Milk and Cookie Shot. Ever since I came across the news, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I googled high and low for answers, direction, something to help me recreate this novelty. Nothing. Because it was so recent, people have been talking about it but nothing more.

The Method (or lack thereof):
I googled "deep baking pan" online, in search for some kind of structured apparatus for my cookie vessel. As I was scrolling, I noticed "petite popover pan". I scrutinized pictures from all angles, looked over the dimensions, and read numerous reviews on all the different brands offering a version of the same thing. I put a lot of effort into this, because I wanted.. hoped.. prayed.. I could actually make it work.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, I was able to get started 2 days after ordering. Those 2 days, I waited in nerve-racking anticipation. My eagerness to just dive in and do it was consuming me. I had no plan but I really felt like something would just click once I got my essential petite popover pan. Basically, I was an idiot. ALWAYS plan when taking on a project, especially when the odds of screwing up are more likely than not. Can't stress this enough.

In the past 24 hours since my petite popover pan arrived, I've almost had a panic attack (or five), wanted to give up (more then 100 times), and pretty much hated every miserable second of every minute of every hour of my existence. You get the gist. If you hate me and want to revel in the details of my torture, see my Twitter for your sick pleasure.

Because I was so excited, I woke up super early yesterday to get started. I knew I wanted to use Ina Garten's Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe for my cookie vessel, simply because it's delicious and I firmly believe in using what I already know I love. Upon making the cookie dough, I realized that it was a little too soft and way too sticky to use for this. I literally stared at the dough, stared at my sticky fingers, and stared at my petite popover pan and felt completely defeated already. It was way too early for that. I would not let the cookie shot win.

I added an extra 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to the already prepared dough. I also had an extra 2 pounds of standby flour because this shit was just not cooperating. It was less sticky but still somewhat too soft. I soon realized that the dough was the least of my problems. Although, I now had the petite popover pan, I didn't have anything to create the opening of the cookie shot glass. It took every little bit of creativity and craftiness in me (which isn't much- I hate crafts with a passion) to figure out what to do next. I'm not a freaking DIY person, I B-U-Y. If I were a DIY person, I would make my own coffee instead of going to Starbucks everyday.

I tore my kitchen apart and found a box of small sample-sized Dixie cups. I've had these damn cups since my 9th grade science fair project. I think I can work with this. Obviously the diameter of the Dixie cups is too large. So I cut a slit down the side and halfway through the middle to manipulate them a bit. To keep their new shape, I wrapped the Dixie cups tightly in aluminum foil.

I then began to roll out the cookie dough. Eff. Why did I have to use chips instead of chunks or flakes?! The chips became a new obstacle, because they awkwardly would not roll down with the dough. I started taking my anger out on the dough and added extra pressure with my pin as I rolled it out. Most of the peaks of the shitty chips broke and kept sticking to my rolling pin. It was necessary for me to adapt again, because clearly the dough had to be a certain thickness and it wasn't taking "no" for an answer. Grrrr. I also realized this when I wrapped the foil plugger I made with the dough and the whole fat thing would not fit into the slot of the petite popover pan.

Only 2 of the 12 that I prepared actually fit. As you can tell, it was going really well. So I put those 2 pieces of crap in the oven and baked them. I also wrapped some parchment around them so that it would stabilize the structure while baking and be extra easy to remove from the pan. Needless to say, I had to remove the thick dough from the other useless foil pluggers in order to unwrap, reshape, and re-foil. This really sucked. We're now on hour 5 or 6 (feels like 50) of this bullshit. It was at this time that I made the conscious decision to call it quits for the day. Nothing was going right for me and I didn't want to deal with this crap dough any longer.

After 15 minutes (in 350 degree oven), I took a peak at the 2 cookie vessels in the oven and they were doing exactly what I wanted them to do. I rotated the pan and let them bake for an extra 3 minutes so they would get more golden. When I pulled them from the oven, I was shocked. They looked freaking normal. I must have done something right, which I guess doesn't say much considering I still had a whole mound of dough on the counter that I absolutely despised. But, screw you, I was thrilled. I couldn't even look at the dough anymore and I felt like it was mocking me, so I just put some plastic wrap over it and threw it in the refrigerator. It was ruining my life.

While the cookies were still somewhat warm, I pulled my crafted foil plugger device out of it. This is the most awkward thing in the world because it's like pulling a tampon out of a vag. That was not PG and extremely gross, but I felt like it just needed to be said. I placed the cookie vessel upright and this effing thing actually stood up on its own. Holy hell. Kill me. It's working. I knew I had to sleep off my day's endless frustration. I just couldn't take anymore abuse from this project. I was too annoyed and too tired to keep going. However, the last 30 minutes of the day did give me a little hope that my ingredients, time, and money I spent on a petite popover pan weren't a total waste. That would have sent me over the edge.

Day [freaking] 2:
This morning, I woke up feeling good... well, not that good (less excited than when I woke up yesterday). More than anything, I felt motivated to finish this ridiculous project I had dumbly convinced myself I was capable of completing. I took the dough out of the refrigerator before taking a shower and getting ready, so that it could [un]chill out and I wouldn't have to work with a big rock.

The "getting myself ready for the day" was just what I needed. I got a sudden burst of energy. I was pumped. I was ready. I had my "Happy Place" playlist all set up. Refrigerating the dough overnight turned out to be helpful. Perhaps it just needed a time out to think about all the hell it put me through. I kneaded and abused it a bit to make sure it knew I was the boss today. The dough beatdown was key. After that, it was much easier to manage. And, somehow, everything that was an absolute disaster the day before was now going much more smoothly than I expected. The "Happy Place" playlist also kept my patience high and blood pressure low. Here's how it went down..

24 hours later, I have the cookie vessel. Halle[freakin]lujah. But oh no, wait, this nightmare isn't over yet. Dominique Ansel lined his cookie shots with a thin layer of dark chocolate. I followed his lead and lined mine with chocolate, too. I ended up melting a bunch of chocolate (can't tell you how much exactly because I did it like 5 times more after the first). Because I'm obsessed with a pop of color (see here and here), I also dipped the bottom of the cooke shotglass in more chocolate and then into a bowl of sprinkles. That's how I roll. These monsters needed all the help they could get, so you know I just had to do it.

They sure looked cute now, but then I had to bring out the milk (leftover from this) to test these assholes. Umm.. I tested one and it failed. There's nothing worse to bring spirits down than spilled milk.. literally. I quickly realized that any part inside the cookie vessel that wasn't lined with the chocolate was going to cause the milk to leak out. So, I melted more chocolate and slathered all of them again. Tested another one.. FAIL. OMG. I was really anxious and pissed off at this point. Like, are you kidding me? How could something so adorable make me feel so much hate? This is real life, people. It's not perfect. In fact, sometimes, it downright blows. So where do I go from here? Slather more chocolate, I guess. What else could I do?! (Please, someone give me another solution here!) I started melting all the effing chocolate I had in the house, because a thin layer was obviously not going to keep these bitches from leaking. Just saying. 

I felt like shit and a half. How the eff would you effing feel? I almost started throwing the remaining cookie shotglasses against the wall or in the garbage. Either way, I was over it. But everyone knew I was working on a project and I dreaded breaking the news that I had nothing to show for my 36 hours of misery.

We're on to the third cookie shotglass. Milk goes in.. wait for it.. nothing comes out. OMG OMG OMG. It's a Christmas miracle, I tell ya. The third shotglass with the third layer of chocolate... my heart just stopped because I was in disbelief. Seriously, this really happened and it made me SO happy. (See it unravel, here-- I unravelled many times prior this, clearly.)

So, I knew one worked for sure. The other 10 or whatever.. not so confident. I've never been more nervous to share baked goods in my life, and I hated it. Obviously, I wasn't going to poor milk in every single one just to be positive that it wasn't going to leak. So, as I handed them over, I made sure to provide the appropriate disclaimer of [perhaps] faulty execution-- i.e. Lower your expectations and pour over a plate first. Or just eat the damn cookie and eff the milk.

I recruited a few brave souls to put my cookie shot to the test. My heart was pounding so hard that it was about to jump out of my chest. Simultaneously, I was on the verge of peeing myself. Guess what, friends? Sometimes, dreams really do come true. Watch the Milk and Cookie Shot in action here and here!!

The Milk and Cookie Shot was definitely an adventure.. a one-time-only sort of adventure that I will never attempt again. But don't let me discourage you. Maybe you can learn from my never-ending sequence of mishaps. After all, that's why I'm here-- to do all the screwing up first and to show you that, at the end of the day (or 2 days of legit hell), it's possible. To see it work was actually incredibly cool and rewarding, so the whole experience was totally worth it.

If I haven't scared the crap out of you by now and you are interested in pursuing this project (maybe need more details than the lengthiness of this blog post), feel free to reach out. I have 48 hours of [more] unfiltered advice for you. Get excited for that.

Milk and Cookie Shot-- It's been fun (hah!), but see you never. Love you, but actually [not-so-secretly] hate your guts.

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