Friday, August 6, 2010

The Art of the Sandwich Cookie

photos by Anthony Palatta

Last night, I taught my very first cooking class: The Art of the Sandwich Cookie, at my local Whole Foods, at Bowery and Houston.

Having been a student in a number of cooking classes myself, it was interesting to see one from the perspective of the teacher. The first thing that struck me was the degree of planning that went into it beforehand.

Besides writing up all the recipes as well as researching and testing them, I had to think of how to divide up the work to fit the time frame of the class, order all the food necessary, and even make a few things ahead of time.

(Cookie dough needs time to chill, time I wasn't sure we'd have in class, so I made some back-up batches at home, pre-chilled, and brought them in.)

I chose to teach sandwich cookies because they're easy, fun, and delicious.  The four recipes I taught were oatmeal scotchies, sandwiched with vanilla ice cream, lemon cream sandwiches (last week's post), homemade oreos, and peanut butter cookies, the very first post on this blog.

My class, which sold out (woo-hoo!), had 13 students, who divided into teams to make the dough for each cookie.  Once they'd finished, they brought the dough to the front of the room, where I demonstrated how to shape each one for cookie making.  At that point, it was a race to get as many cookies sliced, scooped, cut and baked off as quickly as possible, so that they could cool in time to make the filling.  Our classroom became an assembly line, with each student pitching in, while Wai Chu, an accomplished chef and instructor who's on staff at Whole Foods, supervised the rotation of cookie trays in the oven, and my partner Anthony ran around trouble-shooting.

As an instructor, I was surprised by how many questions I had to answer, and how many of them at once, often as four different sets of recipes were going at the same time.  I wanted to clone myself to stand next to each team and help everyone!  It was also interesting to see where students got confused or had trouble, which taught me a lot about how to write the recipes in a clearer way.

After we made all four fillings, it was time to sandwich everything up, and then eat.  We ended up with dozens upon dozens of cookies, and the students came up with endless variations, adding melted chocolate and jam to some cookies, and even hot pink sprinkles to oreos, which was a very pretty combination.

In the end, a good time was had by all, especially me, and I didn't even eat any of the cookies! (I was too pooped.)  Teaching cooking was a definite adrenaline rush, and I can't wait to do it again.

I'm already thinking of other cookies to work on.  The possibilities are endless...

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