I catered my first event today!
Before leaving my old chemistry job, I constantly kept the break room stock with cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and bars. I brought in treats basically once a week. A few coworkers figure out my ulterior motive—baking for this blog, not just for fun—but most of them, my boss included, never realized I photographed and wrote about nearly everything I ate.
I eventually confessed my baking blog secret to Boss last January, and he actually encouraged me to follow my dreams, due to the rapidly shrinking job marked in our field. But still, I was downright shocked when he sent me this short email only a couple of days after officially quitting.
Yes! Yes yes yes!
My mind started racing faster than a Thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby. What to bring? Individual finger-food treats. Which ones? (Gosh I hate being indecisive!) Brownies—my ultimate favorite ooey gooey ones. Mini muffins—my absolutely addictive spiced pumpkin, only smaller. Cookies—uhh… umm…
I really wanted to choose my licorice almond cookies, but knowing my chemistry coworkers, they’d probably avoid the platter like the plague. What kind of crazy person puts bits of black licorice into cookie dough? (In my defense, my mom declared them the best cookies I’ve ever made!) Instead, I decided to swap it out for something slightly less strange: dried cherries.
Because dried cherries tend to be bigger than raisins, I diced them into 4-6 pieces (per cherry) to ensure they spread evenly throughout the dough and every bite contained a bit of the tangy fruit. I also reserved about 1 tablespoon to press into each cookie just before baking. I do this for every cookie recipe with mix-ins because it makes the tops look more appetizing (and prettier too!).
I chilled the cookie dough for 4 hours before shaping and baking. This is mandatory; do not skip the chilling step. You just mixed and stirred and beat the flour into the dough, so chilling allows the gluten to relax, which produces softer cookies. It also reduces the dough’s stickiness and makes it easier to roll into balls.
When baking the cookies, leave them in the oven for 10-12 minutes at most. Although they may look underdone, you’ll let them rest on the hot baking sheet for another 10 minutes, which allows the centers to set without the outsides turning crunchy.
When I set down the tray of Cherry Almond Cookies on the table at the seminar, it took all of 20 seconds for people to wander over and pick up the treats. Many snuck a second, the girl seated behind me asked for the recipe, and another lady proclaimed them “much better than the normal catered food!”
All that from my baking blog confession and quitting my job.
Thank you Boss!