Fail Up Friday: Waffle Cookies

Do you ever have those days when you try something and it’s a complete and utter flop… but you learn something from it? That’s failing up. And my new Fail Up Fridays series are a chance for me to share some of my utter flop moments with my readers.

Y’know… like that time my daughter and I tried to make cookies in a waffle iron.

Dubunking the Internets

I occasionally watch a YouTube channel hosted by Australian baker Ann Reardon called How to Cook That. I think she started her channel to demonstrate her next level baking and decorating skills, but what has started to capture the fascination of the web recently and seems to be lighting a fire under her subscriber base (at least reading into some of the comments she makes about the popularity of those types of videos) is her series on debunking cooking myths.

See, it turns out, the internet is not a uniformly noble and honest place. It turns out there are people of questionable moral character (gasp!) who post things that are provably untrue. I suppose this earns them short-term attention which can be mobilized into clicks and views and all those things that the unknowable artificial intelligences doling out advertising revenue seem to like. In short, people post crap because crap is easy and makes them money.

Countering this kind of misinformation are people like Ms. Reardon who leverage the power of good sense, knowledge of video trickery, and just simple, basic experimental evidence to demonstrate why things don’t work the way they are often portrayed online.

This is important, because even the most eagle-eyed among us are easily fooled by gimmicks and simple answers and quick fixes… and those things can be wasteful, destructive, and even dangerous.

Waffling on Facts

I’m pretty sure it was one of those kinds of dishonest “hacks” videos that germinated the seed of curiosity in my brain and made me think I could turn our electric waffle iron into a high-speed cookie baking machine.

Now, I’m not saying this will never work. I’m not saying you cannot cook cookie dough in a waffle iron and produce something resembling a waffle-shaped cookie. That said, pondering the science of baking and heat and logic, making a cookie in a waffle iron would likely require a very specific cookie dough with the right consistency of dough or batter, a particular quality of gluten development balanced with enough oil to crisp things up while not liquifying in the griddles of a waffle press. It could use some food science know how that exceeds my expertise as of yet.

It could be figured out tho.

It was just not as simple as the video we had watched implied. It was not as simple as squirting some refrigerated grocery-store cookie dough from a tube into a hot waffle iron and emerging victorious with a crisp, hot waffle cookie.

What emerged from my waffle iron instead is pictured above.

And the lessons learned , the failing up, was not to give up or that failure was the end, but rather for my daughter and I to try and understand why it didn’t work, what might make it work, how to look online for multiple sources of information confirming a method or idea, and (most importantly) how much work it can be to clean burnt cookie goop out of a waffle iron.

My recommendation, though, is to forget the waffle iron… that you’re better off cooking a monster skillet cookie in a cast iron pan anyhow.

Fail Up Friday: Forked Cream

If you’ve been reading along for the last few days, I posted a comic earlier this week that tried to find a bit of humour in some recent… um… less-than-perfect cooking efforts.

Thinking about funny ideas for future comic strips means I’ve also been thinking of all the fails I’ve had over the years. Not all of them are funny or even comic-strip fodder. But, some of them would make for short anecdotes that could make for some light Friday blog writing. In other words, I might have a new recurring topic on my hands: Fail Up Fridays, because if you don’t learn from your fails you’re doing it wrong.

We had some down time last night, and the YouTube auto-play was flipping through random videos on the tv in the background. One of the chefs I watch on the regular had posted a new video inventorying some of the techniques she applies to her baking.

Half way down her list was how to make whipping cream by hand.

She measured out the cream into an appropriately-sized bowl, she grasped said bowl firmly by the rim in one hand and with the other took up a whisk. Arm extended and bowl down by her hip she expertly demonstrated the long but successful grind of beating some air into the cream to form lovely stiff peaks and create tasty whipped cream.

Simple, right? Well…

Rewind Twenty-five Years

I lived with my younger brother in university. We shared a basement suite a few blocks away from campus where various friends would stop by to hang out. We were also both dating young women at the time (the same young women who would both eventually become our wives) and being two young guys eager to impress our girlfriends with our cooking prowess (just like sitcom characters) we tried to teach ourselves some basic culinary skills, something neither of us had picked up much of along the way prior to those years.

The lesson I’ve taken away since is that sometimes it’s better to attempt and succeed magnificently at something simple, than to try something complex and fall flat on your face.

One night we tried something complex.

At least it was complex for two guys who owned four plates, a set of cutlery, and an aluminum frying pan between them both.

We tried to make a lemon pie. Y’know… to impress our girlfriends.

My Kingdom for a Whisk

Into a frozen pie shell we poured a lemon custard (a’la powder-from-a-box) and baked.

Into our one and only plastic mixing bowl we poured a cup of heavy whipping cream.

We did not own a whisk. We certainly did not own a stand mixer with a whisking attachment. We did own a fork… and a fork is exactly how we tried to turn the whipping cream into whipped cream.


I remember taking turns. I remember getting frustrated. I remember making a mess.

There was no whipped cream on our pie.

Instead, after an hour of effort, there was a slightly-greyish puddle that we’d defeatedly poured atop our lemon pie filling and that despite our efforts to bake and salvage, was not impressing anyone… especially not our girlfriends.

Many years later when we bought ourselves a magnificent red stand mixer, one of the first things I did was spin up a batch of whipped cream to accompany a batch of breakfast crepes. It took less than ten minutes. No one questioned my choice, least of all my wife, but had she inquired I would have simply replied with… “remember that lemon pie we tried to make?”