Thursday, March 31, 2016

Up To My Ears in Cookies

Which, by the way, is never a bad thing.

Although almost all the cookies I've made are on their way to Canada, so I'm not really up to my ears in cookies anymore. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This morning I first made a batch of granola and then realized I didn't have enough powdered sugar to make the macarons I wanted to make for the memorial service. Off the the store, to get much more than just a bag of powdered sugar, of course! Oh! You know how I was collecting those Monopoly game pieces? Well, I haven't won anything from the game board yet but I did win a $25 gift card to the grocery store as an instant prize. I cashed that in today and used that for my groceries. Kinda cool!

Once I got home I tried to make chocolate macarons. I went online to figure out how much cocoa powder to add and even added an extra egg white to the meringue since the cocoa powder dries things out. Despite that, and after piping all 8 half-sheets of cookies, the batter was too thick and the cookies cracked. I decided they weren't pretty enough to use, so I made another batch (the first batch was a half-recipe and the second batch a quarter-recipe; a quarter-recipe makes 4 half-sheets) but didn't use cocoa powder. Instead, I added a little espresso powder to tint the meringue and add a mild coffee flavor. Since they all had the same chocolate ganache, essentially I made mocha macarons. These came out better, but still many of them cracked. I was able to get enough pretty ones to set aside 3 dozen mocha and 1 dozen chocolate macarons to send off to Canada. That, plus the 3 dozen lavender cookies and the 2.5 dozen lemon sablées is, I think, plenty.

I did assemble a lot of the remaining cookies and have a box to give my neighbors and some for us to enjoy at home.

UPS is very kindly shipping my box of cookies up to my cousins with a plan to arrive on Monday. Hopefully they will get there unscathed. I would hate for them to be ruined somehow! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 24: Petits Fours Frais

Yesterday's class involved making something we've made before, pâte à choux. However, we were making it in the context of petits fours frais, or fresh. Some of us had already done this when we volunteered to do the prep for that party back in the beginning of March. So when it came time to make the little tartlets, we were familiar with the process. Pate sucrée, almond cream, fresh fruits with apricot glaze and lemon curd with Italian meringue. I got to work the torch again, which always makes me happy.

The best part of yesterday was getting a sense of how far we'd come. We made pâte à choux in week 3. It's now week 12 and it was a whole lot easier. Not perfect, mind you, but easier.

Today I made a batch of lemon sablée cookies, which are being set aside to be sent to Vancouver. My great aunt, a woman very special to me, passed away a few weeks ago and, while I can't go to the memorial service, I can be there in spirit in the form of cookies. After all, food is love. I have one more batch of cookies to make (tomorrow) and then I'll send them up to my cousin.

Also, I finally got to that bag of Meyer lemons in the fridge, and currently have 5.5 cups of lemon curd in the canner.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 23: Cake Decorating

I think this is one of the classes I was most looking forward to; my home cake decorating up until now has been haphazard at best. Probably because I never really piped anything at home and today was all about piping frosting and royal icing. However, before you get any notions that making frosting roses is easy let me assure you, it is NOT.

We started the day by making yellow cake and cookies, basic recipes, so we could practice our decorations. Then we made royal icing and we each got to choose a color and then make roses. Granted, the icing wasn't stiff enough, even with adding more sugar, and it was a rainy day which likely made it more finicky. But my roses were UG-LEE! I did a little better with the apple blossoms and, because I had purple frosting, I made violets.

After everyone was good and frustrated, we moved on to icing the cookies. This went a lot better; again we each made a color and then we passed them around to make our cookies and play with techniques. We made piping icing for the outlines and flooding icing to fill in between the lines. One of my classmates taught me how to make really pretty roses in the icing. (Unfortunately, that cookie smudged on the way home and so I just had to eat it.)

Then it was time to work on the buttercream frosting for the cakes. We made a Swiss buttercream, as we started the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler and then transferred that to a mixer; from there the technique is the same in that you beat it until it's cool and then add the butter. As we made a lot of buttercream we were in serious danger of overflowing the larger mixer. Ultimately we had to split the batch for it to beat properly. The buttercream was left white so we could work on the cakes.

First we assembled the cake - trimmed layers with about half an inch of buttercream between the layers. Next was a crumb coat and then back in the freezer to chill briefly. After that, the cakes were frosted and the sides were smoothed. Chef showed us how to do a basketweave on the sides and we got to pick how we wanted to finish the top edge. I chose a braid. The basketweave comes out so beautiful and I really enjoyed working on it; I took my time and I'm pleased with the result. Finally we added our flowers and had the option of writing on the cake if we wished.

The flip side to all this work is that it was a significant mess and clean up took longer than anyone really wanted it to. But we still managed to get out of there before the next class started!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Before Coffee

This morning, before work and, yes, before coffee even, I tended to my wee little beasties. First I took out Legion and made a batch of bread dough. It always comes out so thick it threatens to overheat my mixer so I end up kneading it by hand. After about 10 minutes of that, it was ready to set aside to ferment. By tonight, it should be ready to form into loaves and then proof overnight.

Last night I started a batch of yogurt using the little bit of yogurt I set aside from the previous batch. When I make yogurt I set aside about a cup in a container just large enough to hold it without much air space. That way, no one goes in and out of it and contaminates it and it's ready and waiting for me. (Incidentally, remember when I couldn't find my packages of yogurt starter? I found them. Buried in the downstairs freezer. But for today I'm still using the carryover from the last batch.) This morning I doled out the yogurt into containers and now we're good for a while.

Now I can have my coffee as I have a breakfast of homemade yogurt with homemade peach melba jam and homemade granola. Mmmm. I am so lucky.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Days 21 and 22: Cake and Ice Cream

Mimosa Cake
Yesterday we assembled three cakes that had a more Italian flair to them: Tiramisu, a Mimosa cake, and a "Mara" cake (so named, per chef, because Mara is a brand of strawberries). For all of these, we had to make the creams and syrups but the actual cake parts were already made. The tiramisu and mimosa cakes were made in bowls that were placed in the freezer so the creams would cling to the sides. Each bowl then had three layers of cake in them. For the tiramisu, we'd made coffee biscuits (a kind of sponge cake) and these were soaked in a coffee syrup and layered with a mascarpone cream. It was finished with cocoa powder and pieces of chocolate (which we also made, marbled white and dark chocolate). The mimosa cake was a lemon-ginger cake, soaked in a ginger-citrus syrup and layered with a citrus mousseline. That one was topped with lemon-ginger cake cubes and fresh fruit. For the Mara cake we used rings and there was a Grand Marnier cream that was used for the outside and the layers; the rest was a layer of meringue and a layer of almond cake soaked in strawberry syrup. We made a strawberry glaze from scratch, which was a lot like making jam. Ultimately, the Mara cake became one of the prettiest things I've done so far. See if you agree:

Black Currant Sorbet
Today's class was all about ice cream and sorbet. For the sorbets, we each had to make one; I chose black currant. It was an opportunity to use a saccharometer, which measures density of a liquid using the Baume scale. This device works exactly like the one we use to measure the specific gravity of beer. Because black currant purée is so thick, I ended up adding a lot of sorbet syrup and even a little water to get the density correct so I ended up with a LOT of sorbet. I thought ahead for the first time, oh, ever, and brought containers. So I packed up a quart for myself and left even more for tasting.

For the ice cream, we could each choose a flavor. I made an ice cream that I always ask for at the local ice cream shop and they never make. See, they make Earl Grey ice cream and Vienna Finger Cookie ice cream. All I ask is that they combine them. And they don't. For me, one of my comfort foods at work was to dip Vienna Finger cookies in Earl Grey tea. I think they go great together. So today I made it. I even had to run to the grocery store to get the cookies! Anyway, I steeped milk and cream with nine tea bags and got a nice flavor, then finished making the base and chilled it. After it was in the ice cream maker and the texture was right I added crumbled up cookies and put it in the freezer.

The next task was to come up with a way of presenting it. I immediately wanted to serve it in a teacup. But it needed to be more than that. One of the other students and I made tuile cookies and, after a few tries, I got what I wanted - a little teacup and saucer made out of a cookie. Here is the plated ice cream:
Ultimately, we set out all 14 of our ice cream and sorbet flavors for the savory students to sample, and they brought us lovely shellfish and salmon for dinner: ceviche, mussels, calamari paella, salmon baked in a puff pastry, pasta with clams. Mmm.
Back row: Black currant, Pineapple-apple, Vanilla, Strawberry, Macadamia
Middle row: Cinnamon Graham Cracker, Chocolate Coconut, Passion Fruit, Cherry
Front row: Caramel, Apricot, Blackberry, Earl Grey-VFC, Pine Nut

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 20: More Cakes, and Gravity Returns to Normal

Spring Passion Cake
Meaning, I didn't drop anything important today.

We had three more cakes to finish today and spent the bulk of the day making garnishes. We made caramel-dipped hazelnuts. And chocolate curls. And bubble sugar and eruption sugar. That was pretty fun!

Charlotte Helena
First off, we made the lime mousse for the Spring Passion cake, which was the red and green themed cake we started yesterday. Once the layers were arranged for that one, it went back into the freezer and then the chocolate praline mousseline for the Success cake was prepared. This was pralines, pastry cream, butter cream, and chocolate. It's like Nutella but much lighter (and better). Then that cake was assembled, using a joconde with pâte decor, the mousseline, and the success meringues. We had tons of these so made 12 regular sized cakes and a bunch of tiny ones. These all went into the freezer as well.

Success Cake
Next we garnished the Charlotte Helena cake we mostly completed yesterday. This is the one with the ladyfingers around the outside and the chocolate mousse and pears. Pears were placed on the center of the cake and glazed and then the chocolate curls were used to cover all the mousse. It was finished with cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Back in the freezer after being photographed and boxed.

The Success cake required cocoa powder and powdered sugar as well, and we had those caramel-dipped hazelnuts for garnish. Again, stored in the freezer until it was time to go.

Eruption Sugar
Then we played with the sugar. Both bubble sugar and eruption sugar require the same ratio of sugar, water, and glucose syrup, boiled to 160˚C. At that point the preparation differs. The bubble sugar is poured out over a hot sheet pan, which creates the bubbles (food coloring added after pouring), while the eruption sugar was colored with red and green food coloring and poured into number 10 cans filled with ice. The cans have no tops or bottoms and the sugar hardens and melts the ice. The sugar takes on really neat shapes this way.

Lastly, we decorated the Spring Passion cake by glazing it with lime and strawberry glazes to create a smeared effect and then adding pieces of the sugar, strawberries and candied limes.

Spring Passion Cake
Tonight we ate some of the Spring Passion cake. It's a terrific combination, lime and strawberry. Tomorrow we'll try something else. So many choices!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 19: French Cakes, Pi Day, and an Excess of Gravity

Citron Cake
Today and tomorrow are focusing on French cakes, particularly cake construction. We had almost all the cakes made already but to assemble them into beautiful creations we have to make all the other components. Between the two days there are five cakes to assemble. Today we completed the Citron cake, which is lemon based and incorporates a white genoise and an almond meringue layer, and the Triomphe cake, which is a walnut cake with caramel based cream and mousse layers. Each has a glaze on the top as well. We needed to make a lot of things:  a triple batch of buttercream, pastry cream, lemon curd, caramel extract, lime mousse base, chocolate mousse, a batch of ladyfinger batter but baked flat with red and green batter designs, strawberry syrup, Italian meringue, whipped cream, cake crumbs for the outside of the Citron cake, candied lemons, and I lost track of all the rest.

I will admit that today was a day of challenges for me. I added the cream to the caramelizing sugar too soon and then, in an effort to fix it, the caramel kind of exploded. All over the stove. And a bit on me. Fortunately, I only got a tiny burn, not enough to do anything but annoy me for the rest of the day. The stove was easier to clean than I imagined. While I was dealing with that I missed out on a few of the things my classmates were doing although I was able to catch up.

Triomphe Cake
The worse challenge was that I dropped an entire tray of 6 cakes. Yes. I did that. I felt terrible. I still do feel terrible. They were coming out of the freezer to finish getting glazed and then decorated and the tray hit the edge of the door. Chef was able to resurrect them and we were ultimately able to decorate them and take them home however I'm quite unhappy with myself. Tomorrow, I resolve to be more focused and do better.

Even with all these lovely cakes, we already had a pie made for today, Pi Day, so the cakes are going to hang out in my freezer for a few days until we can eat them. The pie, too, was lovely.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Week's Worth of Projects

Mostly completed today, although I did make granola again the other day. (Note to self: melting the coconut oil is a huge improvement.)

After I brought home some of that starter culture, I thought it might not be terrible to try to maintain it. I renamed it "Legion" as it is both One and Many. I spoke with two of the chefs and got a few more suggestions of how to manage its generally slow growth and so last night after we got back from dinner I made the dough and set it up to ferment overnight. This morning I shaped the loaves, set them to proof, and left. The elderchild had a class at MIT this morning, and then we all went on a bike ride to the dim sum place in the next town. Once we came back home, I baked only one of the loaves. In the middle of the oven. And it was perfection. (At least, on the outside. I haven't sliced it yet.) For the record, it proofed for 7 hours.

The second two loaves waited through that baking time and the hour it took to bake a pie and just came out of the oven as well. I did put them on separate sheets so they wouldn't touch each other while baking and put the smaller of the two on the top for the first 15 minutes. Neither split on the sides. While it neither proves nor disproves the theory that the oven temperature is very uneven, it does suggest that the longer proofing process helped. In the interest of recreating what appears to be a success, here are the stats: 400˚F oven, turn (and swap racks) every 15 minutes, total bake time is 40 minutes.

And, did I mention, there was a pie? Tomorrow is Pi Day. It's almost as good as last year's because it's 3-14-16 which is π rounded to 4 decimal places. 3.1416. I made a blueberry pie. I keep forgetting to do something about the tapioca. Maybe I need to grind it finer or something, as many of the pearls don't get incorporated. Doesn't affect the taste, though.

I did have a plan to also make Meyer Lemon curd. I still have about 8-9 Meyer Lemons downstairs in the fridge. After setting up lamb shanks to simmer for dinner, which involved grinding more dried lemon, I no longer have the energy. Another day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 18: Butter Cakes

This was another day in which we got to experiment, which was fun!

We started the day by having cheesecake for breakfast. Now, I'd already had cheesecake for breakfast as I had all those mini-cheesecakes from Monday and wanted to make sure I'd tasted all of them, so I cut two of them into quarters and had my share of each. However, once we got to school we took out those two NY Cheesecakes and cut one up for Second Breakfast. It was creamy and wonderful, even if it was cracked on top! I believe Chef took the other one home.

Sadly, there was no time for Elevensies or Luncheon, or even Afternoon Tea, as we spent the rest of the day making cakes based in butter. First we made a large rectangular cake with rum soaked raisins and maraschino cherries. Later in the day it was cut into six large squares and each square was spackled with marzipan and washed with egg yolk. After Chef decorated a few with a fork, I took over and made a fun basket-weave on the remaining three. These were left to dry out for a few hours and then briefly baked to brown the marzipan. I can't wait to try it!

Next, each team made a batch of Pain de Genes, as we need these for a future project. Ultimately we had eight cakes which we froze. Then each team made an additional butter based cake before we started on our individual experiments. There was pound cake and Sacher cake and Quatre Quarts. My partner picked the Gateau Basque. We'd been warned ahead of time that it was a "pain in the Basque" and I'm here to tell you that is SO true. I may never make this cake again. Even though it tasted amazing. Why? It was the fiddliest dough I've ever seen. It's butter, flour, almond flour and sugar, with a little rum. You're supposed to roll it out and then line rings with it. Well, we rolled it out between parchment sheets in four batches because it was so sticky and soft. The texture was more like a very soft cookie batter. We stuck those in the freezer to harden while my partner made a double batch of almond cream for the filling.

When the dough had set up a bit, we tried to get it into the rings. Ultimately we peeled the parchment off the top, set the rings on the dough and used a knife to cut out perfectly fitting rounds and transferred them with the bottom parchment still attached. We then had to use spatulas to smear the dough on the sides of the rings which took ever so long. Every once in a while Chef would walk by and say, "Aren't you done yet?" with a knowing smile. Finally all the rings were ready and filled with almond cream. It rises a lot so we didn't put very much in although some clearly had too much as the cream oozed out during baking. I then had to cut more rings of dough with the parchment paper for the tops and then we were able to peel the parchment off once we had the tops on. It helped to dip our fingers in ice water to seal up the crusts. These were then washed with an egg wash, decorated with fork lines, and baked. As I said, incredibly tasty.
Gateau Basque, Pound Cake and Quatre Quarts

Back: honey lemon, rosewater, apple walnut
Front:Blueberry lemon, honey quince, lemon pistachio
Lastly, we were given a set of parameters for ratios of sugar to flour, eggs to fat, and so on, and tasked with coming up with our own recipe. Our only initial guidance was to start with four ounces of butter. From there, we could play around however we wanted. Each of us was to make eight cupcakes so we could share them. I chose honey, lemon zest, and almond flour and made a dense, sweet little cake. The others used lemon and blueberries, lemon and pistachio, honey and quince, apples and walnuts, and rosewater. All of them were yummy, there were no failures. (We were told sometimes there were failures.)

As we had lots of cakes left over we gave them to the savory students and got a nice dinner of roast lamb and other lamb and grain dishes. I am so spoiled.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Day 17: Cheesecakes

Today, after our quiz, we got to work on cheesecakes. They should be smooth and not rise too high, and they should not crack or fall. I must say that neither of the cheesecakes I made today came out perfect to the eye, even if they did taste good.

Each of us made at least one cheesecake recipe each. First I made two New York Cheesecakes. I even pushed the batter through a sieve to remove the lumps. And dragged a knife through it, and removed all the air bubbles from the top with a fork. They both still cracked. Either they were beaten too much or the oven was too warm or they were overbaked or a combination of all three. They are being chilled overnight and will be finished tomorrow, and then we'll see what they look like at the end.

Since I had time, I could make another cheesecake. I decided to try a s'mores cheesecake. However, since all the marshmallows we could find were old and stale, I had to make marshmallows first. I've never done that before. It's not hard, but it does take time. The ingredients are simple: gelatin, sugar boiled to the soft crack stage with water and glucose, and egg whites. Once the mixture was cool enough it was piped into tubes (and a few kisses) onto parchment, dusted with cornstarch and powdered sugar, and refrigerated for several hours. When they were ready, they were cut into pieces and tossed in the sugar/cornstarch. Even with cutting the recipe in half, there were TONS of marshmallows. I took some home and, now that the 10 year old knows I can make them, I will likely never hear the end of it. They taste so much better than any marshmallow I've ever had before.

Anyway, back to the cheesecake. I made a chocolate cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. The crust didn't get pushed into the bases of the rings tightly enough, I don't think, as it didn't hold together well when it was time to get them out of the rings. Next time, I will just use my fingers to really get the crust into the edges. The cheesecake was a little lumpy and I probably should have strained it but didn't. It baked better than the NY Cheesecake did, though. Minimal cracking!

To finish them, I drizzled them with chocolate and then stuck marshmallows on them. I then used the torch to toast the marshmallows and then finished by adding a piece of chocolate and sprinkling them with more of the graham cracker crust mixture. They're very pretty. Having now eaten them, I think there isn't enough graham cracker flavor to offset the dense chocolate flavor.

My classmates made some amazingly beautiful cheesecakes as well, and I can't wait to try them!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

An All Day Affair

On Thursday, in addition to all the pastries, the Chef had to feed a bread starter culture that one of the other chefs maintains at the school. He very kindly gave me some to use this weekend to make bread. I knew from working with it last weekend as an aside while assisting the dumpling class that it takes a long time to ferment and proof but I had no idea it'd take as long as it did.

I started making the batch of bread dough around 6:30 this morning, when I got up. I had it fermenting by 7:15 or so, and kept an eye on it all day. By 4 pm it was finally ready and probably only because I put the bowl on the radiator for a few hours. I formed the loaves and let them proof. Until 8:30 pm. At which point I baked the loaves at 400˚F for almost an hour. It is possible they could have proofed longer; the sides of two of the three loaves split a bit. Or it could have been where they were placed in the oven. I really am not sure; they were on one baking sheet and the one that didn't split was on another so it's possible it had more to do with location than proofing.

Regardless, the bread is really tasty; my husband and I have already eaten half of one of the loaves, mainly because we couldn't stop ourselves!

So, note-to-self, if I ever do this again I should let it ferment overnight if possible, and then it'd be ready to shape at a more reasonable time of day.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Party Prep

Yesterday I participated in the prep work for that gala event we'd been saving all those cookies and jellied fruits for. In addition to the 32 dozen cookies and the seven flavors of fruit jellies, the school wanted to send lots of mini cream puffs, mini éclairs, and mini tarts. Originally five of our class had signed up to work but only three of us were able to make it. With the Chef, we made two full trays each of cream puffs and éclairs, and tons of little tarts (round and barquettes). This involved a full batch of pate a choux, half batch of pate sucree, 4 batches of pastry cream divided into four flavors, a double batch of fondant also divided into four, a batch of lemon curd, and Italian meringue. We worked very, very hard. What was supposed to be a five hour day ended up being eight, but we got it done in time.

Coffee Eclairs
It was terrific practice; compared to when we first made pate a choux I noticed some improvement in my piping (I made the batch and piped all but a few cream puffs, the other two students did the éclairs) and I got to make more fondant which was something I wanted to work on again. I also made the lemon curd; it was a slightly different technique than the one I use at home so it was good to do it. And the tarts were adorable - some of them had pastry cream and fresh fruits and others had the lemon curd with a bit of meringue browned on top. I wish I had more pictures but, honestly, there wasn't much time to take pictures with all the work we had to do.

Lots of little tarts!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Days 15 and 16: Cakes, More Cookies, and an Experiment or Two

Yesterday we made an insane number of cakes. It's hard to keep it all straight but, as we were learning about sponge cakes and other similar cakes, we made about ten different types of cake. In insanely huge quantities. We made an immense batch of white genoise which made 18 cakes. The bowl in which it was mixed was big enough for a small child to sit in (we so rarely get to use that bowl!). There were also chocolate genoise, almond genoise, coffee biscuits (for Tiramisu), joconde (4 layers), Alhambra cake (like a chocolate joconde, 3 layers), ladyfingers (two kinds), a lemon-ginger cake, and another chocolate cake called a Sacher. Almost all of these were frozen, more gifts for the future when it comes time to assemble more cakes. The only one we used was the white genoise to make a Poeme cake. Here it is:
Buttercream on the sides and top, with a kirsch mousseline on the inside.
By the end of the day I was wearing a little bit of every ingredient we'd worked with. Even the strawberries. I had coffee extract on my face. Everyone, including the chefs, was amused. Amazingly enough, all those stains washed out.

After I got home it was time to make my project for class. I still have to hand in the written assignment but here's what I did. I made a tart using pâte sucrée dough, saffron pastry cream, poached Asian pears, and sumac. The sumac was sprinkled on the dough before pouring the cream and then again on the pears after the tart had cooled. The whole thing was glazed with some apricot glaze thinned with the syrup from poaching the pears. It was served with rose ice cream and garnished with candied rose petals. I would have liked to get organic roses because then they would have actually been edible but apparently I will just have to use my own roses in the summer if I want people to eat them. The tart was well received by my classmates and the three chefs who tried it. Everyone really liked the ice cream! It was a simple base of egg yolks, cream and sugar and then I added rosewater and a drop of red food coloring when it was cool enough.

Today's classes involved Italian cookies. We had 15 recipes to make and Chef asked each of us to work individually. I made Biarritz cookies which were almond and hazelnut with orange zest and sandwiched with hazelnut paste. My other batch was Rochers, essentially a Swiss meringue that was piped (the easiest time I've had piping so far, so I took advantage of it and made a bunch of shapes), topped with nuts and then baked at a very low temperature for a very long time. We were efficient today, finishing in enough time to start our evening lecture at 3-ish and we were out for the day at 6 pm.

Tonight's lecture topic was herbs. We were each tasked with making a chocolate ganache with some sort of herb or herb combo and then made them into truffles. Chef said there were only a few herbs that didn't apply well to desserts, one of them is chive. Challenge accepted! I decided to try to make a chive truffle. I used chives and some lemon zest. It was really interesting: after steeping the milk with the chives, you could really taste them. As soon as it went into the chocolate, the chive flavor disappeared. Chef suggested I add more chive straight into the chocolate ganache. His theory was he already knew it was going to taste bad so I couldn't make it any worse. They were finished with a little flake salt and cocoa powder. Since they were so controversial, I even drew skulls and crossbones on their tray so people would know they were eating it at their own risk. Even my own husband wouldn't try one. The elderchild did, and reported, "This should be a thing you don't do."