Let me start by saying I’m not a big fan of social media. I don’t care what your lunch looks like, what 144-character brain dropping has just emerged unbidden from your cranial cavity, or what pages you “like” if not actually like.
I realize, too, the irony of posting that on WordPress, which I believe is technically billed as a social media platform of sorts. And yes, it’s tremendously flattering when someone likes (or at least “likes”) one of my posts – but I do this more for my own amusement than any third-party corroboration, so while a “like” is a nice bonus, it’s not my primary goal.
One of my complaints about social media, especially Instagram, is how carefully curated it can be and what a false sense of reality it provides. After all, when’s the last time you saw an #ootd featuring sweatpants with defunct elastic and a fine coating of cat hair? I’ve come to realize, though, that I’m guilty of the same thing. I don’t post sunken cakes on here, or scorched cupcakes, or curdled frosting. But we’ve all had recipes that just didn’t quite work out, right?
A little more than a month ago, I was perusing baking blogs before work – as in, at the office, but not on the clock, when a voice behind me asked what I was making to bring in for everyone. So I showed my coworker this recipe for strawberry cookies, but voiced my doubts: those nonpareils could be murder on the teeth, and anyway, wouldn’t the cookies taste kind of artificial? The conversation quickly turned to not being able to find more esoteric extracts at a small-town grocery store with new owners, and what ever happened to the guy who used to bag groceries there, anyway? Construction! Really? And then, the clock magically turned over and I turned my attention to work, putting the whole concept of strawberry cookies behind me.
I was therefore surprised when this same coworker caught me on my way to the break room a few days later and handed me these:
I had honestly had no intention of making the cookies, but I had a patron of my art for the first time ever, which was terribly flattering and made it hard to say no. How bad could the cookies be?
They’re pretty, aren’t they? They’d be great for a little kid’s princess party because kids generally aren’t discerning, but they’re going firmly on my “Do Not Bake” list. Probably.
I don’t mean to sound completely negative. They had some bright points. For example, the cookies themselves were nice and soft and chewy, and not at all greasy. My parchment paper looked seriously pristine when I was done. They’d likely be tasty using simple almond or vanilla extract. The nonpareils really weren’t as tooth-shattering as I expected. From a technical standpoint, the recipe worked out well.
But oh, that optimistic little instruction to stir in the gel colour? Nothing stirs into dough that stiff – I had to knead it in with my hands. The strawberry extract made them extremely fake-tasting, and when I put them in a container and tried to burp out the air as I put the lid on, I was caught with a blast of what smelled like a strawberry fart. I brought in a baggie of eight to the coworker who had so kindly provided the sprinkles, and although she and her daughter apparently liked them, nobody that I usually bake for did. After The People Who Will Eat Any Kind Of Cookie politely choked down one or two, these strawberry farts were quickly relegated to the kitchen garbage.
This isn’t meant as a general indictment of that particular website (quite frankly, her mini cheesecakes look delish, and I’ve got them on my to-try list), nor am I saying I’m a bumbling fool in the kitchen. But as Osgood Fielding III said, “Nobody’s perfect.”, despite what filtered Instagram posts would have us believe.
Thanks for looking! 🙂