Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cranberry What-The-Fuckies

VeganMoFo is teaching me  how
to become a more sensitive,
compassionate friend.

Again, I found myself with a backlog of leftovers.  So, cookietime.  I googled for "veganmofo 2010 cookies" to find a recipe, and was stopped dead in mid-scroll by these.  Holy Mother of God.  (Where do people find all this natural light, by the way?)  Wing-It Vegan's "Katie's Beet Cookies" post originated with  this recipe, which seemed simple enough for my baking skill level.

The only ingredient I was missing was pureed beets, which I was certain I could find at my local rip-off health food store.  Alas, the only beet product they had in stock was sliced, salted beets.  So I had to improvise.  It seemed like the primary criterion for a substitute ingredient was "red."  So, how about apple sauce and beet juice?  No; there was a dusty valley in the beverage isle where beet juice used to flourish.  OK, how about pomegranate juice?  That stuff is red.  Sadly, the only bottles of pomegranate juice I found had one-inch thick layers of solid sediment at their bases; not a good sign.  Okay, how about cranberry sauce?  No, they're all sweetened and gelatinous.  Fine, then just frozen cranberries.  I'd thaw them and whiz them in the food processor.

When I got the frozen cranberries home I popped one in my mouth to evaluate the degree to which they differed from beets.  Turned out, quite a bit.  They were very sour.  So I read the back of the bag and noticed a simple method for turning them into a sort of sweet mash, commonly known as "cranberry sauce."  Yes, the very same jellied cylinder available in cans. Well, I thought, home-brewed cranberry sauce would be much better than that.  Surely this would be the perfect substitute ingredient. 

Sure, they look edible...
But when I finally rendered my "sauce," it was pretty lumpy.  I feared it would not mix well with the dry ingredients, and cause uneven baking. Why not puree it?  Like beets?  So I whizzed the cranberry sauce in my Cuisinart and produced what I thought was a damned close approximation of pureed beets.  I found that I had to add about a quarter cup of water to it to get it to mix with the dry ingredients, but I eventually ended up with a purple goop approximating cookie dough.  (It's probably significant to note that I only added a tablespoon of sugar to the dry ingredients because the cranberry sauce required so much.)
Cookies don't do that.

Everything went smoothly until I took them out of the oven. They were strange.  They had a uniform, almost plastic texture.  They were soft and spongy, and not even slightly crisp.  They were unusually pliable.

I let them cool and then tried one.  It was like a pleasantly flavored jelly sponge cake.  In other words, horrible.

So I made two clear mistakes here:
  1. I tried to bake a colloid.
  2. I liquefied most of the sugar before baking, leaving none to caramelize during baking.
Fortunately, I believe that every experience is valuable, especially the experiences in which you fail miserably. Failure is more instructional than success.  In fact, I bet I can find a pithy quote on the topic in under 10 seconds...
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” -- C. S. Lewis

 WTF is a "finger post?"

11 comments:

  1. Failure is definitely more instructional than success! Next time you'll know exactly what not to do and I know they sucked ass but I just LOVE the colour of these cookies. I have no idea what a finger post is!? LOL.

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  2. This is my favorite blog post title of all time!

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  3. I felt better after reading this, not in like a "ha ha, you failed at cookies" kind of way, more like, "hey, other people fuck up too." :)

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  4. This post made me snicker. Despite the pliable cookies, they are mighty pretty! And, a dude who bakes cookies should get a gold star no matter what the end result is.

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  5. Oh please oh please save one for me. Even if they are gross, my curiosity is piqued.

    -Gaelen

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  6. This post made me smile... sorry about the failure, but I love to title. I've been snickering and feeling like I have a private joke since I read it hours ago. Decided to comment to let you know that even though your cookies didn't turn out, you did make someone have a bit of a snicker with the what the fuckies! Haha

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  7. Thanks for the support, everyone. I have given this experience some hard thought and I have decided to heal my psyche by successfully using cranberry sauce in another cookie. They shall be called Cranberry Burglars. Or Burglarettes. Maybe next week.

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