Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mrs. Fields goes down

I can't find that recipe for the flourless chocolate cake I used to make the the patisserie I was apprenticing at anywhere. It's important because I stole it from my ex-boss's book when I was snooping around the kitchen after hours, looking for my recipe book which he would not return. I couldn't leave without something, having gone to the trouble of risking near-death by entering without permission. So I tore it out of his book, folded it up and ran away. He is of course looking for me and will likely beat me to death with an oversized rolling pin if he finds me. But I don't think he reads blogs. Too busy chasing young shop assistants and drinking wine and eating stinky cheese. I used to keep this recipe in my underwear drawer (don't read anything into that) and I did write down a copy for my favourite New Zealander chef. But now I personally an recipe-less. Maybe that's a good thing. Without that piece of evidence, I may yet survive. But I do like the idea of a stolen recipe. In the end, the basic formula in every recipe can be worked out by an intelligent chef just by tasting. You cannot avoid copying and emulation. Hell if you write recipe books, that's what people are doing to you all day long. They take the recipe you took much time to craft, use it, alter it, and occasionally abuse it, till they have made it their own.

One favourite 'stolen' recipe, is that of Mrs Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies. I love the story of the woman who went to Neiman Marcus and asked for the cookie recipe. They said it would only cost $2.50 and she had them charge her credit card. When she received her statement, the charge read $250. She was so angry that she swore to distribute the recipe to cookie lovers everywhere. Good on her. I've made a lot of these cookies. There seems to be slight variation in the recipes listed online, but I find this one works best for me.

Mrs Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 9 dozen cookies

4 cups plain flour
5 cups of oats, processed till quite fine
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups caster sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups salted butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tea spoons vanilla essence
1 tea spoon salt
675 grams of milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees or 160 degrees fan forced.
2. Cream butter and both types of sugar till pale and fluffy
3. Gradually add eggs to the butter and sugar mix. It may split a little but it doesn't matter terribly much.
4. Add vanilla and salt.
5. Sift all dry ingredients, bar oats and gently fold into wet mixture.
6. Now fold in oats.
7. Fold in chocolate chips. Make sure chocolate is well distributed through dough.
8. Dough should be quite sticky. If it doesn't stick to your hands, it's too dry. Adding some melted
butter to the mixture can fix this.
9. Roll dough into golf ball sized rounds and place them on a greased flat baking tray at least 6cm apart. They will spread quite far and quickly in the oven.
10. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown. Centres should still be soft. Cookie will harden up slightly during cooling. You can cook them further if you prefer crunchier cookies.

These effectively taste the same as Mrs Fields but somehow more wholesome. If you don't process the oats to a powder, then you will get a stronger flavour of oats in your cookie, which is pretty nice. A good variation is to have half white chocolate chips and half milk. Or include some dried cherries or pecans. It's a cookie recipe. Go nuts. Take that you scary rich cougar, Mrs Fields. I wonder what Mr Fields looks like? Or did he die a mysterious death and now prowls her thousands of stores looking for something young handsome and fresh baked? I could Google it, but I sort of prefer my made-up version of events.
Boxed up in a pretty tin these would make a great home-made Christmas present. But they may not make it out of the house. Josh can sit and eat a pile of these, which is saying something, because usually he gets over sweets quite quickly. It's the salty sweet combination though. Salter butter is essential.
Seeing version this recipe are quite well distributed over the internet, I don't think I need to add Mrs Fields to the list of people who want to kill me. But if you meet a deranged French pastry chef, don't tell him anything about me.

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