Cookies 101

Today marked another new beginning for me. About a month ago Groupon delivered a sweet treat into my inbox, baking classes at The Blue Burner. Since Pastry 101 my palate has been savoring all things sweet and buttery.

Learning how to bake moist and chewy cookies had to be my next feat. I arrived at the Blue Burner at 10:15 am on Saturday morning.  As I walked in everyone was eagerly awaiting for class to start in this fully stocked intimate kitchen. My eyes immediately set on the expansive library of spices & baking things on the shelves.

Chef Jhonathan E. Rupchand started the class with a ‘who’s who’ in the class. I, as usual introduced myself as someone desperately trying to conquer my fear of baking and others’ intros circled on how they’d been baking since they were tiny ones or looking to expand their cookie r’epertoire. But one thing was certain, we all wanted to know the secret to a crunchy yet moist cookie! And soon we would find out the secrets through trial and error.

Our menu covered the Old-fashion Sugar Cookie and a Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chunk cookie. The counter overflowed with butter, flour, TWO kinds of sugar (i’ll shall revisit these sugars), eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda, peanut butter, salt, annnnd ummm i’m sure i’m leaving something out, but you get the idea LOTS OF COOKIE BAKING GOODIES.

Chef Jhonathan who grew up around a family catering business pretty much said ‘well guys get started, i’ll be coming around  to check up on your progress, but you’ll be the ones doing everything’. I really enjoyed this part and definitely feel it is what  makes Blue Burner stand out from other cooking schools. It is ALL HANDS ON. It is detailed. It is thorough.

My favorite part about this class was our trial & error portion.

Have you ever found the perfect recipe to make and gone and bought all the right ingredients, even bought that special gadget that you knew you shouldn’t have, but you just knew that it would make all the difference in this special recipe, you even pushed everyone out of the kitchen making sure they knew they could only step in if  and only if they were about to pass out from starvation and even then you’d toss them some bread and water and send them on their merry way, then began to follow the recipe but some where down the line you missed that part where it said ‘and now add the sugar(s) but for some reason you missed the plural in sugars and only added one sugar?

Well that’s exactly what happened in class. We had made our dough and were ready to start scooping up our buttery morsels when Chef Jhonathan checks in and starts asking are  you all sure you added everything? A second later you hear someone mumble under their breath ‘shoot we forgot the brown sugar’ Chef Jhonathan picked up on that one like a true ‘Ever knowing cookie God’ and quickly commanded the group to START OVER! I must admit, I was one of the ones who challenged him when he said this, how could he want us to start over for such a minor, or so I thought, mistake??? And here is where we had one of Oprah’s AHA Moments…if we don’t add both sugars in the creaming  phase (when you combine the sugar and butter and beat till you get yellow fluffiness) and you try to add them at the end, you will end up with a sad sad sad dry cookie.

So off we went to chuck our casted-off minus-one-sugar-Sugar-Cookie-dough. Our defiant group decided though to keep a few scoops to bake off and compare the difference afterwards. After getting our second batch perfectly whipped with our two sugars we moved onto our Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chunk cookies. I have to say we felt like pros by this point considering we had already prepared two cookie doughs. This recipe went off without a hitch and pretty soon we were dunking them in fresh whole milk.

The second favorite part of this class for me was my discovery  of a perfectly winged cat eye on our other Chef, Jennifer Herrera. She walked in and I thought wow she looks nothing like what I imagined a chef would look like this early in the morning. Her hair in place, smile in place, and the most perfectly winged cat eye i’ve ever seen up close in person. It turns out she loves makeup too…so you can only imagine how much of a treat that was for me.

The class wrapped up with the us asking Jhonathan and Jennifer their tips and tricks for everything under the sun from using every part of a carrot to making homemade stock that’s not cloudy. All and all, I GIVE BLUE BURNER TWO SPOONS UP! It was personal, instructive, and above  all friendly. I’m now itching to take their French cooking class next.

I highly recommend taking a cooking class at least once. They’re great for meeting new people who share your love of food, testing out to see if your date has what it takes to stay in the kitchen with you, or simple yet interactive team building exercises.

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