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Happy-Gourmand

What's over the top?

I love to cook. I love to eat. I love a good adventure. That could be why I enjoy trying wacky recipes.

My chef husband often shakes his head as I combine flavours and ingredients that at first look would seem to be strange bedfellows. Sometimes his reluctance for support is verified when my experiments don’t succeed. But every now and again, I hit one out of the park.

Then he has second helpings. That’s when I go “over the top.”

This week, I made chocolate chip cookies. Ooh, you say sarcastically, big deal. This is when I get to tell you like a TV advertiser, “But wait, there’s more!”

These cookies had popcorn in them. I know, you think I’m off my rocker. Or at best, that I spilled popcorn in the cookie dough bowl. Nope. I just read a lot of food blogs.

Some of the best food innovations have come from accidents. Necessity is sometimes the mother of invention, but other times thinking outside the box is more what is required.

  • Wheaties were created when a dietician spilled bran porridge while cooking it. The gruel exploded into crispy flakes that tasted good. A cold cereal was born, the breakfast of champions.
  • Potato chips were created by a vengeful chef. After an unhappy patron repeatedly sent back fried potatoes saying they were mushy, George Crum cut the potatoes extra-thin, cooked them well and covered them in salt. The customer loved them. The chef got the last laugh – he went on to own a restaurant, called Crumbs House.
  • Popsicles were discovered when an 11-year-old boy left his soda-making equipment on the front porch one cold night. The soda solution froze solid with the stirring stick in the middle. It was delicious. The fellow kept making them, even as a parent, and 20 years later he applied for a patent for “Pop-sicles”.
  • Waffle cones exist thanks to a friendly vendor at the 1904 Worlds Fair who was a neighbour to an ice-cream vendor that ran out of bowls to serve his product. The customers preferred the waffle cones to the bowls.
  • Even chocolate chip cookies were an accident. A lodge owner making cookies for her guests ran out of baker’s chocolate. She assumed that chocolate morsels would melt and blend with the cookie dough during cooking, but well, not so much. Nestlé heard about her effort and loved the recipe so much it ended up on the back of their chocolate chip package for years.

I can claim no credit for this wonderful combination of textures and flavours. One of my food blog gurus, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, has this recipe in one of her books.

Another blogger I love, Joy the Baker, adapted it. I have added my own twist. Whomever you want to believe, this is worth making a batch. These are definitely in my “over the top” category.

So without further adieu, here is my version of a quirky snack that satisfies sweet and salty cravings. Feel free to use this as inspiration to spill something in your kitchen – you never know what might come of it.

POPCORN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (makes 24 cookies)

You can make popcorn if you like, but I discovered that extra popcorn we brought home from the movie worked perfectly. If you are using already-popped corn, I would say make sure it is not a sweet flavour. The cookie dough is the sweet part in this creation.

To make popcorn:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup popcorn kernels
¼ teaspoon salt
1Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Pop the kernels in the oil in a deep pan with a lid, at medium heat. Don’t hold the lid on too tight, so steam can escape. Shuffle the pan slightly but be mindful of the hot oil.

Once the popping starts to dissipate, remove the pan from the heat but leave the lid on until it stops or slows to almost nothing. Toss the popped kernels with the melted butter and salt. You will have 4 cups of popped corn.

For the cookie dough:

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Popped kernel corn (4 heaping cups)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, or with a stand mixer and paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugars for about 3 minutes, until butter is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again for about 1 minute more.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to cookie dough and mix on low speed just until combined.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer or put away the hand mixer. Use a spatula to fold in the popcorn and chocolate chips. It will seem like a lot of stuff to add in, but keep folding gently. The popcorn will break down a bit as you fold.

Scoop dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Sprinkle the cookies with sea salt before putting them in the oven. Bake in the centre and top third of the oven (I used 2 baking sheets and switched them halfway through the cooking time.) Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown with crispy edges.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. (I know it’s hard to wait, but these taste better when they have cooled; you get more of the crispy outside.)

Store in an airtight container.



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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