Introduction: How to Caramelize Store Bought Cookies - Yum!
Store bakeries are getting better at making cookies soft and chewy as if they were home made. In doing so they follow recipes exactly as written. However, If the recipe fails to make allowances for ambient temperature, pressure and humidity, alternate sources of ingredients or deviations in processing equipment, time or technique the results may be a tasteless cookie, soon to become a homeless cookie, that no one wants. Hence, a lot of cookies get put on sale on their date of expiration.
Caramelizing is one way to bring out the hidden flavor of those bland, store bakery made cookies and save them from finding a new home in the trash.
Step 1: Build a "high Rise" and Add a Cookie
A "high rise" is nothing more than a non-heat conducting surface on which to rest the cookies (or cookie) while it is in the microwave.
Originally I used the top edge of a Pyrex measuring glass and the top edge of a jar but they do not really offer sufficient support to prevent the cookie from breaking apart or warping.
Instead I now use a microwave safe dish turned upside down with a two inch stack of paper towels.
Admittedly some of the oil will be soaked up by the paper towel instead of reabsorbed by the cookie so you might want to consider a higher tech solution like rings of microwave safe plastic.
In any event some oil will not be completely reabsorbed.
Step 2: Set the Timer for 1 Minute or Less
My microwave is about 500 watts and 1 minute for one cookie is just about right. As soon as I begin to smell the cookie cooking then I shut the microwave off. You do not have to do the whole time at once but can break it down into several segments lasting 1 to 20 seconds each.
The tricky part is to keep the cookie from getting too hot or being heated too long and bursting into flame as the caramelized layer becomes electrically conductive and turns into a heating element, igniting the ingredients, especially the oil.
Step 3: Keep You Eyes and Nose on Your Cookie
I left the kitchen for just a few seconds after trying a 1 minute, 30 second timer setting for three cookies. As I returned to the kitchen one of the cookies had started smoking badly and was about to burst into flame but I managed to cut the power before things got out of hand.
Most of the rest of the cookie was edible and did not loose its flavor but as I got closer to the center the more and more it was charred. I crunched it down anyway but if I had it to do again I'd of used a pee cup instead of leaving the kitchen.
Step 4: You Do Not Have to Wait for the "End"
A 1 minute timer setting is only a guide... if you begin to smell your cookie cooking then it is probably at the "End" You can always add chucks of time in 5 second increments if it is not.
Step 5: Allow at Least 5 Minutes for Your Cookie(s) to Cool
This is the hardest part. I'm always forgetting and opening the microwave too soon and burning my tongue on that delicious cookie.
Since you will be consuming a high calorie treat use this opportunity to go for a jog or walk around the block while preventing thermal disaster and your heat sensitive tongue from colliding. Your cookie will be there waiting for your when you return.
If in doubt then you can always place it in a cookie jar hidden in the cupboard.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Remove from cookie jar or from the microwave oven where your cookie has been patiently waiting to be consumed and taste the caramelized difference.
...and, if you have a pet, then what a perfect time to share.
Caution: Too much chocolate can be fatal to pets. How much is too much? Worst case scenario is for dogs with 100-150 mg/kg sufficient to cause toxic reaction. That's 2 oz. or more of Baker's chocolate which contains 390-450mg/oz. of Theobromine. Caffeine is also present.
White chocolate which is used in these cookies contains so little Theobromine poisoning is unlikely.
Here is a list of Theobromine contained in various chocolate types:
Baker's = 390-450 mg/oz.
Semisweet = 150mg/oz.
Milk = 44mg/oz.
White = less than 10 mg/oz.
Use this guide. No more than:
3 oz. per pound of body weight for White
1 oz. per pound of body weight for Milk
1 oz. per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet
1 oz. per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker's
A typical batch of 3 inch Semisweet chocolate cookies consists of about 4 dozen and are made with about 9.5 oz. of Semisweet chocolate chips or 1.5 cups. That's about 270 grams of Semisweet chocolate per batch or .2 oz of Semisweet chocolate per cookie.
If your dog weighs 12 pounds then no more than 20 Semisweet chocolate cookies or only 10 if you are paranoid.
For White chocolate its more like way more than 40 cookies but again if you are paranoid then set a limit of 10 cookies again. If you are sharing half of your cookie then that is 20 halves.
However, if you are eating more than 10 cookies at one sitting then you are pigging out.
Don't pig out and everything should be fine.
Look for any symptoms such as doggy diarrhea, vomit, muscle tremors, increased urination, restlessness, increased heart rate, hyper-irritability or hyper-excitability. Adjust amount of treats accordingly. Contact your vet if symptoms are excessive and stop sharing cookies until he (or she) says its okay.
Also, double check my math. My calculator is broken.