I have a few quirks, but one of the weirdest has to be my occasional compulsion to attempt recipes that I simply don’t have the patience and/or skills for.
More often than not the inspiration comes from a movie or TV show, or even a podcast.
More recently I attempted the Bon Apetit ‘Best Lasagna’ recipe after hearing it detailed in a podcast that Joel was playing as we nodded off to sleep. Lasagna is a pain in the ass at the best of times, but this recipe was next level. The mince had to be made into meatballs before browning, and the ràgu spent a good four hours in the oven. By the time I’d made the béchemal, boiled the pasta, layered it all together and cooked it I’d basically spent the whole damn day deconstructing the kitchen to construct a lasagna.
It was bloody good though.
Even more recently I watched a couple of the ‘Pastry’ episodes of the Chef’s Table series on Netflix, one of which featured New York pastry chef Christina Tosi. I fell in love with Christina primarily because she’s a sucker for junk. Tosi is no food snob; she’s just a woman standing in front of a deep fried Snickers bar asking it to get in her belly.
Beyond our shared passion for low brow, mostly yellow foods, I was also captivated by her personality. She’s so damn smiley and positive. She enthuses passion for her craft but in a really affable way – kind of the antithesis of the self-important and often aloof chefs that so prolifically appear on our screens.
Tosi has no time for fluffery. She cbf’d making everything look perfect because she’d rather focus on the flavours, an approach that has clearly worked well for her as she now owns and runs Momofuku Milk Bar, the dedicated sweet-space of David Chang’s celebrated Momofuku restaurant group.
In the aforementioned episode of Chef’s Table, Tosi made some sprinkle-laden cookies. No big deal right? Cookies are cookies are cookies. Except, the whole thing with Christina Tosi is that her baking is supposed to be sublime, so her cookies aren’t just cookies, they’re an experience. She’s known for breaking convention in traditional baking to produce gastronomic brilliance. Of course after seeing her Confetti Cookies on my telly I decided to try and make them because I had 398457 other things to do.
Generally speaking cookies are quick, no fuss and easily thrown together to have alongside a cuppa within the hour. Not these little buggers though. Not only do you have to refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheets for a good sixty minutes or so prior to cooking (amateur fridge-Tetris players need not apply), you also have to bake a cake crumb to be incorporated into the dough before you even start making the cookies proper.
Who has the time for all that? Well, me apparently.
I made the damn cookies, and…? And they were delicious! In fact they were the first cookies I’ve ever made that achieved the illustrious yet elusive crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle consistency that I’ve long strived for.
There’s a saltiness to them that sounds horrible but works weirdly well – unless you’re my six-year-old in which case the cookies “taste like play-doh.” Don’t read too much into that though, the kid has extremely basic taste buds – he couldn’t possibly appreciate the subtle nuances of texture, flavour and aroma in these confusingly delightful morsels.
Curiously, the three-year-old scoffed a good number of them. He’s our foodie, he gets it.
If you’re up for the challenge you can find the recipe for Christina Tosi’s Confetti Cookies here (this is the only place I could find it reprinted with permission). Give them a go if you enjoy a little journey in the kitchen. I don’t know if I’ll ever make these again due to sheer laziness, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a crack.