When I was at Ashburton Cookery School, our Chef Tutor used to talk about happy mistakes i.e. a mistake which ended up resulting in something unexpected or better than the original product. I am not sure if what I am going to tell you about first is exactly a happy mistake, but it is certainly a recovery of sorts from what would have been a very expensive disaster.
Last Saturday, I was happily baking one of our staple bakes, chocolate brownie. All was going well until I took the chocolate brownies out of the oven. I have no idea how I did it, but when I went to put the two large, gastro trays of brownies in the cooling racks, I managed to scrape the surface off the lower brownie with the base of the gastro tray of the top brownie. The result was a bit of a molten mess with no surface skin. A brownie of sorts, but certainly not a brownie which could be served to a Lynwood & Co customer.
After my initial panic and thoughts of having to buy the whole brownie (large enough to serve 24 people), I plucked up the courage to tell the Head Chef about my mistake (I have to say that I did delay telling him for a while, mainly out of embarrassment). We had a brief discussion about what we could do with the brownie, rather than just throwing it in the bin, which wasn’t really an option given that one brownie contains 15 eggs, 500 grams dark chocolate, 250 grams milk chocolate, 750 grams caster sugar, 750 grams ground almonds and 750 grams butter. I left my shift with the task of coming up with a recipe/s to use up the brownie. After scouring the internet for a while, I came across a recipe for chocolate chip brownie cookies from Two Peas and their Pod. Armed with the recipe, which I will share with you shortly, I went into work on Sunday morning mainly to complete some Black Forest panna cotta lamingtons, which I had started on Saturday but also to make some cookies from my disasterous brownie.
Slightly nervous about trying the cookie recipe (as I didn’t need another mistake), I made the recipe as instructed. The upside was that I produced 35 delicious chocolate chip brownie cookies, which were liked by the Head Chef and Manager and hopefully the customers at Lynwood & Co.
The downside was that the cookies only used a small amount of the damaged brownie. With most of the brownie still unused, I set about salvaging some, freezing some and moulding some into brownie balls. I managed to salvage 4 pieces of brownie, which were good enough to serve Lynwood & Co customers. I froze a large section of the damaged brownie to use in further batches of chocolate chip brownie cookies. I froze the brownie balls and then coated them in melted chocolate to make chocolate truffles at home, as chocolate truffles are not quite a Lynwood & Co thing.
Although I have not managed to use up all of the damaged brownie as yet, I am well on my way. I am sure with a bit of defrosting and further cookie baking there will be no further evidence of my disaster. What better way of getting rid of the evidence than eating it.
My other challenge last week, which I already alluded to, was making the Black Forest panna cotta lamingtons. These were made at the request of my Australian owner using a Flour and Stone recipe. As I mentioned, I started the bake on Saturday by making the chocolate sponge, cherry compote and vanilla panna cotta. Initially concerned that I knocked too much of the air out of my sponge, my sponge either rose too much or the half gastro tray which I used was too small (although if I read the recipe correctly, the gastro tray was slightly larger than I needed) . With the cake being quite thick, when I went to sandwich two layers of cake together with cherry compote, the resultant cake was too thick and didn’t create a neat lamington. Although the Head Chef suggested that the panna cotta had set just right (the right amount of gelatine), the way that I lined the tray meant that a lot of the panna cotta seeped under the baking paper and did not affix to the bottom of the sponge as required. Although there was a thin layer of panna cotta on the top of the cake, the panna cotta layer was missing on the bottom of the cake. As if this wasn’t enough, the recipe required me to use three types of coconut for the final coating. Although I only had dessicated and shaved coconut, using the shaved coconut as well as the dessicated coconut resulted in a rather untidy finish. All in all, I was not happy with the end result but at least going through the process of baking them means I know how to improve things next time – use a larger square tin, lined with a single piece of baking paper and use just dessicated coconut.
In conclusion, it has been a week of mistakes, some happier than others.