Maybe I was getting too cocky. Up until last night, things had gone so well in the home-cooking department. Raspberry Cheesecake Blondie, fudge, a Super-Trifle – I was starting to think that I’d got this baking lark sorted.
But no. Pride comes before a fall, they say. And they’re right.
The idea was excellent in theory: a load of home-made chewy cookies, each one studded with a different flavour of Jelly Belly beans. I would call them Everything Cookies. In just one batch there would be a liquorice-flavoured cookie, a melon-flavoured cookie, a banana-flavoured cookie… All the exciting flavours you like, with only one blast of the oven.
The project got off to a promising start. With the aid of my fabulous assistant (yes, she of Bucket fame) I made up a bowlful of cookie dough, arranged it on the baking tray, and took my time to select the bestest flavours. We went as Meta as we could, particularly keen to try out all the pudding varieties (a pudding-flavoured cookie? What’s not to like?!).
Poked into every uncooked splodge went four of each chosen bean: Birthday Cake, Apple Pie, Popcorn, Peach Bellini. The list went on and on (sadly lacking in Cookie Dough flavour though. What’s that all about, Mr Jelly Belly? Make it so!). In my mind they would emerge from the oven, looking like biscuits with edible jewels. But first, they had to go in.
If only I’d stopped there.
The dough was delicious, you see (as usual I’d held some back for the pleasure of eating it raw). But after a spell in the oven, something went DRASTICALLY WRONG.
What’s that you say? Looks all right to you? That’s exactly what I thought, Ogglers. I mean, it won’t win any prizes at the Biscuit Beauty Pageant (and the beans are more like sunken treasure than sparkling jewels), but as cookies go there was plenty to admire. The texture was soft and chewy. The smell was delicious. And that dough – ooh, that dough – had promised a tasty delivery.
I took a bite.
I waited for the flavour to hit me.
And it was… disgusting.
I tell you true, Ogglers. Not since the notorious Valenswine’s Day Massacre had I produced something so vile. After a moment or so on the tongue, the taste that evolved was appalling: intensely bitter and salty; the exact opposite, in fact, of what I was trying to achieve.
Frankly, I was baffled. The dough had been delicious, so it had to be a problem with the beans. I picked one out and ate it. Ten minutes in the oven had softened it, turning it wrinkly and thick. Nevertheless, it tasted lovely. In fact, if anything, the beans had been improved by a spot of high heat. Sure, they stuck to the teeth slightly more, but the texture was like marshmallow: warm and super chewy.
After several long minutes of puzzling – and more cookie testing (nope, still gross) – we could only conclude that the heat had been the catalyst for some insane reaction; that something in the beans had leaked out and spoiled the dough. But what? E numbers? Cornstarch?
Alas, I am not a scientist, so I’m not sure I can answer that. What I can say, however, is that it was seriously weird.
I found myself wishing we’d left out the oven: just rolled up some dough balls and filled them with beans. Mmm, that would’ve been nice…
But it was not to be. My plan for Everything Cookies had failed.
It was devastating, Ogglers. All those ingredients wasted for a recipe doomed to be binned. Well, not all exactly…
The beans, thank goodness, could still be saved. My stomach will comfort them later.