Thursday, October 22, 2009

Failure is NOT an Option's not optional because it's already here!

But do you know what the great thing about failure is? Failure is one hell of a teacher!

Thomas Edison reportedly said in response to the number of failures he went through to create a functional light bulb, "I didn't fail. I just discovered ten thousand ways NOT to make a light bulb." [Andy Andrews pg 11]

This is what I wanted to make, Apple Smoked Apple Dumplings.

Jeanie made the one above over at Cowgirl's Country Life. I've been a huge fan of her blog for several months. If you haven't seen her blog you just have to go look at it. She is the ultimate "from scratch" cook. She even RAISES HER OWN SHRIMP for St. Jimmy's sake! I challenge you to read her blog and not be envious of the cowgirl's life she is living. It's literally home, home on the range. No conference calls, no meetings, and no suburbs.

So things started off well, I cored the apples

and peeled and sliced them into 4 thick slices each

I rolled out a refrigerated pie dough (a family recipe....if your family name is Pilsbury!) and reassembled the apple slices with a cinnamon/brown sugar mix (1 T cinnamon/half cup brown sugar) between the layers.

Then I wrapped it up snug as a bug with the pie dough.

I gave it a little egg wash, sprinkled some more cinnamon sugar, topped with a pat of butter, and then put them on the Big Green Egg at 300f with some apple wood chips.

While the dumplings were smoking, I made a caramel sauce from scratch from Joy of Cooking. One cup of sugar topped with 1/4 cup water-

Swirled gently over medium heat until the sugar fully dissolves and the mixture is clear like this-

Then I raised the heat and covered for 2 minutes. Uncover and let boil. When the color goes from this

to this

Swirl the mix again and remove from heat. (I love how I caught the liquid still swirling after I put the pan down here.)

Pour in 1/3 cup water, carefully as it will steam and splatter. Stir together until smooth. It didn't look like the light brown caramel sauce you buy for ice cream but the flavor was amazing.

Meanwhile, Alexis was making whipped cream so I went to check on our apples, since they were almost done. I opened the Egg and......OH SNAP, EPIC FAIL!

Most of the pie dough fell off. The post mortem analysis came back to two things. First, we used fuji apples, not the best for baking. Second and more importantly, I didn't want the apple slices to oxidize or brown while I got everything ready so I put them in ice water. DOH! Or should I say DOUGH! The moisture leaching out from the soaked apples during the cooking made the dough fall apart. (Quit snickering Greg. Just because you can do a full week of apple recipes and nail it, yet I can't even make it through one day...)

So it wasn't pretty at all but it still tasted GREAT! The crisp texture of the dough, the cinnamony sweet apple, the bite of the caramel sauce, and the kiss of whipped cream were phenomenal.

If this had gone perfectly smooth, I wouldn't have learned as much as I did through my partial failure.

The exact conversation Alexis and I had went like this:

"I'm not mad, I know what went wrong." I said, dining on the apple crumble mess, "We have more right?"

"Four granny smith apples and four crusts," she confirmed and then added, "Two more times to mess up!"

"That's the spirit!"

So share a "failure" you had in the kitchen and do you think you learned more from it than initial success would have taught you?


  1. Great attitude! It's good to learn from our mistakes. At least you still got to eat it.

  2. Well, you made a successful caramel from scratch and that is not something lightly attempted, I can tell you that. The pictures are gorgeous! (BTW, so is your wedding ring...Sue me. I notice jewelry & know a nice piece when I see it!)

    Kitchen failures? I once made oatmeal cookies with whole oats rather than quick oats and they turned out terribly because, I assume, the whole oats don't absorb liquid the same way that quick oats do. These cookies spread like a lace cookie. Lesson: don't use whole oats in a recipe unless specified. I've mad the recipe several times since, with quick oats, even in a commercial situation, and they were fine.

  3. She raises SHRIMP? I didn't even know you can raise shrimp...are they like seamonkeys?

    And OH MY WOW! I just had an apple pie shot at a restaurant tonight (think apples, sugar, crumbly dough, caramel and whipped cream...baked into a shotglass..YUM) and now I'm craving your apple thingie.

    Can I have your apple thingie recipe? Pretty please?? What do you want for it?

  4. Wonderful try though!

    You'll master it, I have every confidence. Im off to check off the recommended blog, thanks for the heads up, sounds great.

  5. PS .. I wouldnt consider it a failure anyway, since the taste was delicious.

  6. That is one of the wonderful thing of cooking and baking: learning!

    But your apple dessert still sounded succulent :)

  7. As soon as I saw that "failure" picture, I said to myself "I bet they still taste fabulous" I'm impressed that you even tried this on the "egg" I've never made a caramel sauce. You've made it look fairly doable. And thanks for the direction to Cowgirl's blog. I'm heading over there to take a look. Great pictures as always.

  8. Failure is always a wonderful teacher. You did learn something, after all. A complete failure is when the lesson isn't taught, and you walk away empty-handed.

    I've had more failures than I could possibly list here, but they've all taught me something that makes me a better cook. Even the best and brightest fall down sometimes.

    Those apples looked marvelous, despite the sad state they ended in. A wonderful concept too; I might have to try it!

  9. Good attitude Chris - most of what I can do is what was left from all of the what not to do's.

  10. You know my philosophy on this, and approve your sharing of oopsies 100%!! The only failures in this world are the people who never tried, or the ones who didn't share what they learned.. Sometimes moisture is your enemy, depending on ingredients..

  11. A failure that still tastes good is not a failure. (or at least that's what I tell myself all the time)

  12. I have set on this one for nearly 24 hours trying to decide if it was indeed a failure. Yes, if you are going to cook apples why worry if they get brown, yes Fuji are eating apples. But I wonder if the real problem (if indeed there was a problem) may have been the air tight package. I usually prick pastry before I bake it. That way the steam escapes... Still I know it was delicious so that is why I wonder if there were any errors at all. GREG

  13. Just eat it with your eyes closed :D swirl picture.

  14. Chris, thanks for the kind comments!!
    Your finished dessert looks fantastic, I'm glad to hear you and Alexis liked the apples.
    One thing I notice that is different... I put the butter on top of the apple before bringing the pie crust up. Also left the hole in the top of the crust, I didn't seal mine up. (hope that makes sense lol ) The butter on the outside might have softened the crust? Just a guess.

    Yours still looks wonderful!!

    Thanks again Chris. :)

  15. So, only a failure in the "visuals" department, I'd say...because taste is the real judge! It sounds absolutely delicious. Although my brain is not working yet this morning, I have definitely had many an epic failure to teach me a thing or ten in the kitchen! :D

  16. As long as it was delicious it isn't a fail at all! I'm off to check out Cowgirl's Country Life. Have a great weekend! :-)

  17. Gotta second that whole "getting to eat your failures" thing. It's one of the better parts of cooking.

  18. Looks delicious anyway. One of Poor George's best desserts ever was a "failed" creme au chocolat where the chocolate didn't melt properly and so because a sort of chunky chocolaty crust. He's tried for years to reproduce his "failure" but has never succeeded. He's failed to fail, doesn't that suck?


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