Sunday, January 23

GIANT Test Cookies

A friend had asked me a few weeks ago if I was interested in helping out with making a birthday cake.  I reluctantly explained that I didn't have the right equipment to make or decorate cakes but I would be happy to make up some cookies.  The reply asked if I would be interested in trying to make one of those GIANT cookies.

Well, I could easily slap some dough on a sheet pan and hope it baked nicely round, but as we all know, that's not the way it's usually done.  There are those GIANT pans you can get that will mold cookies into shapes for you.  (I'm sure this is no news to anyone.)  But alas, I did not own any.

Last week while helping my mother move we found the box of her old cake pans.  Score!!  This would be the same mom I mentioned before.  The Wilton cake decorator who collected character shaped pans and spent countless hours piping little stars all over them with hand-colored buttercream.  Hey, it was the 80's, give us a break!  Do people still take classes for this stuff?

TIME OUT --  I have to know.....

Upon minimal searching I have discovered there are several places that still hold classes for the "Wilton Method".  Crazy!

My Cake Class - At Michael's in Springfield, Oregon

The Decorette Shop - In Portland, Oregon


Where was I...?  Oh yes - so we found the pans.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to try some cookie dough out in one of them.  My main concern, after having terrible incidents in cake class, was I wouldn't be able to get cookie dough out of the pan once it was baked.  I went ahead and brought home 2 character pans: Mickey and the Mystical Dragon pan.  I also grabbed the heart tier pans.  Three hearts, graduated sizes, but the large one isn't big enough to serve as it's own GIANT cookie.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the hearts yet.  I decided I would try a simple butter cookie as well as a sugar cookie in one of the characters first.  I whipped up a batch of my signature Lemon Blizzard cookie dough for the first test.  After pressing some of the dough into a greased and floured pan, I popped it in the oven at a lower temp than normal (325º) and waited.  The timer was an issue.  It takes 20 minutes to bake the cookies at the size I make them, (which I also bake at 325º instead of 350º because of their size) but I had no idea how long to bake a cake for.  I had to trust my nose.

The "cake" expanded more than I expected.  When you place a ball of dough on a baking sheet it has plenty of room to spread.  The dough in this case rose, even clearing the top of the pan.  (I'll remember to use less dough next time.)  When I started to smell the cookie I peeked into the oven to find it nicely browned on top but still soft to the touch.  Upon my second look, I tested the middle with my trusty chop stick, but it did not come out clean.  Against my nose, I left the cake to bake longer.  Once the white chips on the outer edges began to darken, I had to remove it from the oven.  I let the cake sit long enough to fetch my cooling rack from the cupboard (which I had forgotten to pull out ahead of time).  For a few moments I wondered if I should wait to turn it out, but after testing the sides and remembering that I was dealing with a high fat dough I went with still hot over letting it cool.

Voila'!  I released beautifully. 

A few important notes:
The center was STILL not fully cooked.  At least to my liking.  It was soft and moist, not runny.  Certainly edible, but looks underdone to me.  It didn't have a chance to solidify so it did collapse in the middle as it cooled.  This can be remedied by either using less dough (which I will definitely do) or changing the cooking temperature.  I honesty don't know which way I would go with the temp.  Turning it up will brown the sides and top more and turning it down could make the middle not cook at all.  I think I'll stick with the less dough option and not worry about it.

The greasing and flouring?  Probably not necessary.  I'm not sure if its just me and my tongue this week, but it seems to have an after ... fuzz.  Another technical term, ladies and gentlemen.  I occasionally experience this when people use shortening in their frostings.  Something about the congealed fat sticking to my tongue.  I personally think it's gross - and I did use Crisco to grease the pan.  (It's always real butter in the dough, so that's not it.)  It may have also been the flour, but either way, I don't like it and I will try it again without the prepping.  I think it will be fine because, as I mentioned before, this is a high fat dough so as long as you turn it out while it's still hot, it should release just fine.  (Cross your fingers.)

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