It’s been a day of kitchen disappointments, or at least frustrations.

Have spent way too much time over the past few days covered in chocolate, working on truffles.  You guys better appreciate this 🙂  I hate being covered in chocolate, despite sounding yummy.  I don’t like stuff on my skin like that.  And the cleanup!  oy.

At the kitchen tonight, first thing that went wrong was that only one of my pastry cream/custards set up (Rose’s recipe, of course.  Go Rose.)  So the Boston Creme Pie is a little… sqooshy.  Nothing the freezer can’t fix…

Then, the white chocolate ganache I was going to frost the Strawberry Butter cake with broke.  What is it with ganaches breaking lately?  Ended up making a double batch of cream cheese frosting and just using that.  Which left me scrambling a bit to put together the strawberry tarts (had planned on using the ganache as a base), but I managed.  Rose’s banana cream pie reimagined as pielets looks reallllly yummy, though!

Then, re-acquainted myself with the fact that knives are still sharp underwater.  (Someone had pitched all of the washing-up gloves, and I couldn’t find more, so I was washing bare-handed.)  *sigh*

Time for bed, I think.

Or, When Things Don’t Quite Turn Out.

That’s right, I share with you my failures as well! Well, some of them. The photogenic ones.

The original source for this recipe was BakingBlonde‘s lovely post on the topic. I mean, look at those pictures? Who wouldn’t want to make these cookies?? I don’t even like peanut butter, and I still thought they looked awesome, so I gave it a shot (plenty of other people like them, and it’s always a struggle to find recipes that aren’t dry as bones).

In the beginning, all looked well:

Beautiful raw cookie dough

Beautiful raw cookie dough

(They’re sprinkled with powdered sugar because this dough just <b> drank</b> up the powdered sugar I’d rolled them in, and I wanted my crackly crust.)

It wasn’t until I checked on them near the end of baking time that disaster struck. Instead of lovely, high cookies with deep crinkles, I had this:

Flat, flat, flat cookies

Flat, flat, flat cookies

Well, the crinkles are there, but they were oh so very flat. Extremely flat. Still tasty, if PB cookies are your thing – they were moist and delicious, and held up at my in-laws’ house for over a week (I don’t know how they do it). And I bet they’d be really great with some chocolate ganache sandwiched between two of them. But still, not what I was going for.

This recipe made a lot of dough, so I’d rolled and frozen the other 3/4ths of it. I decided to give them a second chance. Cut off the rolls, dropped the pieces into powdered sugar, and popped into the oven. This time, they came out higher, but drier (the dough had obviously done what PB cookie dough likes to do and hidden away all of the moisture while it was resting in the freezer). Still nothing like BB’s lovely pictures.

Ah, well, the search continues. Anyone have a PB cookie recipe they’d love to find at their local coffee shop?

The Recipe:

From BakingBlonde‘s grandmother, among other sources

Peanut Butter Crinkle Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar (or more as needed for rolling)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchement paper.
Place powdered sugar in shallow bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Once combined beat in the white sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a large bowl wisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently add to creamed mixture and mix until almost combined.
Chill dough for 10-20 minutes.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Genlty roll the dough balls into powdered sugar and place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Carefully press down on each ball with a glass to flatten tops slightly.
Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until top is crinkley and edges are set. Cook on sheet for 10 minutes and transfer to baking rack to finish cooling.

The one thing every good baker needs to have in his/her repertoire is a no-fail recipe for cinnamon rolls, right? But I’ve never really had one – I love them, but a little too much, if you know what I mean. Best to avoid the temptation of an entire pan of cinnamon rolls altogether by just not making them at home. Also, I lived in Chicago for a number of years, and with Ann Sather right around the corner, with its World-Famous Cinnamon Rolls, there was really just no point to making them.

I’ve accumulated various recipes, over the years – I have a recipe that I was assured (by the pastry chef at one of the major downtown hotels in Chicago) was identical to the one Sathers uses (there’s also one here that claims to be official). I probably should have started with that one, but What Geeks Eat’s Brioche Cinnamon Rolls came up onto the screen, and I couldn’t help myself.

I don’t often make yeasted doughs, for a few reasons. One, I only (currently) have a smaller Kitchenaid mixer (the 4.5Qt), and it really doesn’t like doing bread dough. It complains. It hops. It heats up. It packs its bags and starts to head for the door when it sees one coming. I love my Kitchenaid (don’t tell it that I’m planning to acquire a second, larger one, shhh), it’s been a faithful companion to me for over 15 years now and I plan to have it for another 15, so I try to avoid making things that tax it too much. The RSIs mean that I can’t knead dough by hand, so that’s also an automatic limiter on any type of yeasted dough.

Second, the only time I’ve ever had good success making yeast doughs that raised well was when I was taking the breads class at the community college. I don’t know if it was the incredibly fresh yeast, or the proper temperature space in which it could rise… I just know that it’s never that easy at home. Even with fresh yeast bought from the grocery store (as opposed to dried), I have trouble. This time it was finding a warm place for the dough to rise. All summer, it’s been nicely hot and humid, perfect dough weather. But do I make these in the summer? No! I crave warm, yeasty breads in the fall and winter, when my house rarely rises above 65F and the humidity isn’t much to speak of.

This time was no exception. We’ve had a nice cool snap, and the house was around 68F or so. I made the dough and put it in the fridge to rest overnight; took it out in the morning and let it warm up for an hour, then rolled it out and formed the rolls. So far, so good:

Raw Cinnamon Rolls

Raw Cinnamon Rolls

Then, waiting for them to rise. “Wait until doubled in bulk”. Right. Half an hour later – no action. I have an electric oven (I know, I know, I hate it too), so that’s not really useful. Maybe if I put the oven on 200F and crack the door, and put the rolls on the stove above it… An hour later, still little action. Completely opened the door of the oven and sat the sheets of rolls onto it, turning them regularly so that the butter wouldn’t melt, and eventually they started to puff a bit, which would have to do, as I have other things to do than to babysit stupid cinnamon rolls.

Baked them up (oops, overbaked the first batch), slathered them in glaze, and…

Finished Cinnamon Rolls

Finished Cinnamon Rolls

Well, I can say that I’d do some things differently next time. First of all, smush them all in a pan together rather than separating them out. I like soft edges on my rolls, and these all had pretty firm walls. The dough was light enough inside, but the texture was still just not what I am going for in a cinnamon roll. It was more bread-y than anything else, and I like them softer and richer than that. I’d use nuts (probably pecans) inside. I’d wait to glaze them until they’d completely cooled.

So, not there yet. But at least I didn’t eat the entire pan…