Welcome Update #17

9/18/2011

 
Bethany Schoeff, Columnist

“A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”-James Joyce 

 Had I read that quote before or even right after making the mistake, I would have never believed that I wanted to have messed up so badly.  After all, I was trying to get the task done as quickly and as perfectly as possible, and could not afford any errors in the process.  The cookie dough had to be made that evening, for it needed to be refrigerated overnight before being used in the next day’s photo shoot.  

I am usually confident in my recipes, and in my recommended substitutions to avoid allergens.  However, I honestly had never made this cookie dough recipe using gluten-free flour, so I needed to test it before printing the recipe in our holiday issue.  I decided to halve the recipe, making one batch gluten-free and one batch my usual way (I have made these sugar cookies many times before); I even wrote down the halved amounts ahead of time, so I wouldn’t need to do math during the process.

 Everything went wonderfully with the first batch, and surprisingly the dough looked perfect and quite “normal” for gluten-free.  It even came out of the mixing bowl so clean, that I didn’t even have to take time between batches for washing dishes.  I began the second, “regular” batch, and everything was going swimmingly . . . until I added the last ingredient.  I put in double the amount of water the recipe called for!  The result was a gummy, sticky, doughy batter that tasted nasty.  

I couldn’t believe that I had made such a drastic error!  I was so upset with myself, especially when I realized there was no way to correct this mistake.  I could add all the other ingredients, repeating the halved amounts, therefore making a full batch, but I knew it would not come out right at all.  This error was undoable.  The batter could no longer be used for its intended purpose, no matter what I did to it.
 
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 My husband suggested I just throw out the batter and start over.  Yes, I could just sigh and forget it, learn from it, and move on.  But was “Don’t do it again!” the only lesson to be had here?

 Perhaps it was my disgust for being wasteful, or perhaps it was some subconscious wisdom, but something in me had the determination to try to salvage this defective batter.  I thought there may be a recipe similar to this accidental one, which seemed more like a drop cookie than dough to be rolled out.  Comparing recipes, I discovered that the amounts of sugar, margarine, and flour were the same as in my recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  I added some brown sugar, some dry egg replacer, and a little baking soda.  The now extra baking powder was the only real difference in the recipes.  I placed two trial scoops of the “new” batter on a cookie sheet, added some chocolate chips (I did not want to waste a whole bag of chocolate chips, in case this didn’t work), and, with loads of doubt, put it in the oven.

“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.”-Dale Carnegie 

 I could not have even imagined or hoped for what came out.  What resulted was a soft, cake-like, delicious cookie that my family went nuts over!  I mixed in the chocolate chips and baked all of the remaining batter.  One day later, the “accidental cookies” are gone, already gobbled up, and enjoyed even more than the ones I usually make.

 This mistake did require more time and effort, but the outcome was definitely worth it.  It truly was a portal of discovery, a blessing to learn from.  By trying again in a different way, I actually profited from this mistake, with an unexpected, yet better, result.  Sounds like a life lesson!  Mistakes really can’t be undone, or corrected to produce their originally-desired result; we should not only learn from them but also try to repurpose them into something even better.
 
“Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them.”-Salvador Dali
 



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