Picky Eater or Refined Palate?

I have a tried and true Chocolate Chip recipe.  It is the perfect combination of soft and chewy according to my daughter.  I tried MANY different recipes until I stumbled upon one that she declared was perfect and I have been consistently using this recipe for the past 6-7 months.  I make Chocolate Chip cookies fairly often so she has come to recognize the texture and flavor of these cookies.

A few weeks ago on a whim I bought a dark brown sugar instead of the usual light brown sugar that I typically purchase.  When the time rolled around for me to make the cookies I admit to having a split second of dread where I thought to myself, as I measured out the brown sugar,  “Hmmm….is this going to be a problem???” but I carried on and pretty soon the smell of chocolate chip cookies was wafting through the house, calling all the people to the kitchen.  Everyone, including Sara,  happily gobbled up a few cookies fresh out of the oven with no complaints so I assumed that I had successfully pulled off a sugar switch!

However the next day she was munching on one and she looked at me and said “I’m not saying these aren’t good or anything…but did you do something different to the recipe?”  I smiled knowing I was busted.  I said “Yes,  in fact I did and I am not surprised you noticed.  I have always said you have the palate of a top chef and I believe if you take a second, and think about it, you might even be able to tease out exactly what is different.”  Honestly I didn’t think she would be able to tell me –  but it was a chance for her to sort of hone this talent of hers so I turned it into a game.  Of course I was prepared to give her a few hints.

But she just looked at me without any hesitation and said “Is it molasses?!?”  I burst out laughing and said “IT IS!!!”.  She said “Why did you put MOLASSES in the cookies?!?!”  I explained that I didn’t – that I just used a brown sugar with a higher molasses content, but that I was shocked and impressed by her ability to figure it out so quickly given that she’d only tasted molasses once a few years ago in a grade 4 Science project.  On top of that, she didn’t have the ability to do a side by side comparison – in fact she hadn’t eaten the much loved cookies in weeks!  But there she was able to tell me that she could taste molasses in her cookie.

And it is 100% the reason that I can’t hide grated zucchini in our hamburgers or pureed cauliflower in mashed potatoes.  I also can’t hide medicine in foods.  If I use a salted butter in baking and don’t then adjust the amount of salt used in the recipe she declares that the fosted cookie is “too salty”.   She also doesn’t like most candy or commercial baked goods because they taste too “chemically”.

This is why I allow Sara to take the lead when it comes to eating food.  When my son says that he doesn’t like something it is just that – not a food he likes much but he will eat it because it’s polite or he is hungry enough to wolf it down regardless.  When my daughter says she doesn’t like something – she REALLY doesn’t like it!  And is usually unable to tolerate the taste regardless of manners or how hungry she might be.   So I soldier on tweaking recipes to suit her sensitive palate all the while secretly hoping that one day she spins this talent into a lucrative career.  Or at the very least soon takes over all the cooking!

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