I’m not much of a baker, but when I saw that Naoki Yoshida—aka, Yoshi-P, Final Fantasy 14 director and all-round icon—recently spent seven hours baking bizarre-sounding coffee cookies, drinking wine and running some raids on Twitch, I desperately wanted even a nugget of the good vibes Yoshida was radiating.
I tend to spend a lot of my free time drinking wine and playing games anyway, so I was already like, two-thirds of the way there. I just needed to get my hands on Yoshida’s cookie recipe, and thankfully discovered it had already been kindly translated by the wonderful @aitaikimochi on Twitter.
One trip to the store later and I had my wine, my ingredients, and the translated recipe. All I had to do next was spend three hours on a Saturday afternoon doing my darn best to bake some cookies.
Let the baking commence!
Well, not quite yet. The first thing Yoshida does is pour a glass of wine for himself and his two streaming buddies. I didn’t have any friends, but I did have a big glass and a bottle of wine ready for drinking. According to @aitaikimochi, Yoshida was
drinking a 2018 Napa Valley red. There’s no specification on what kind of red wine, but luckily my supermarket only sold one Napa Valley wine, a 2017 cabernet sauvignon, so I went with that.
After a small wrestling match with a wine opener and a quick taste test, I was finally ready to start baking. The first step was to whip the butter ‘until fluffy.’ This was where Yoshida made his first mistake, getting an entire block of butter stuck inside his whisk. I was determined not to follow in his footsteps, so I chopped my butter up before taking my mixer to it.
The butter still got very much stuck in the whisks, which is my fault for thinking I could do something better than Yoshida.
Adding the next few ingredients—milk, egg yolks, and sugar—went relatively smoothly, even if my batter was resembling something akin to scrambled eggs by the time I’d finished mixing it. Was it supposed to look like that? I don’t know. The red wine was starting to take effect, and some aggressive mixing sent half my sugar flying out the bowl, but I was having a good time baking along with Yoshida’s VOD, and that’s the most important thing.
Turns out I kinda suck at this
The dry ingredients are where my problems really started to kick in. First, the flour. The recipe called for 350 grams, but as I sifted it all in, the proportion of wet to dry ingredients was looking rather skewed. Now like I said before, I’m not a baker, and I couldn’t tell you what a standard cookie recipe looks like, but the mountain of flour atop my small plane of butter mixture was concerning.
Secondly, the recipe called for two grams of instant coffee, which is not a lot. My kitchen scales are good for larger quantities, but point-blank refused to measure two grams of coffee. Some light pleading with the scales was getting me nowhere, so I gave up and made a rough estimation on what two grams of coffee looked like.
The recipe called for mixing the dry and wet ingredients together with a rubber spatula, which I genuinely tried my best to stick with. But my feeble triceps and painfully tiny spatula meant I wasn’t really getting anywhere. So I donned some gloves and got to work on the dough with my hands.
Now, was this a bad idea? As with everything else, I have no clue. By this point, I’d had two glasses of wine and it had been well over an hour. I was very much
ready to get these bad boys in the oven, by any means necessary. My previous fears were also realised when the dough was looking awfully dry. Instead of looking up the solution, I just threw some more milk in there and got ready to shape my little cookie babies.
Time to get these bad boys in the oven
The recipe told me to grab roughly 30 grams of dough per cookie, before flattening them down into one centimeter discs. If you haven’t clocked on by this point, I am literally the worst human being when it comes to eyeballing the size and weight of things. What even
is a centimeter?
I did my best to flatten my dough balls out appropriately, giving them ample space to ward against my nightmare vision that they would all meld together into one horrifying cookie slab monster. Now all my dough balls were squashed and socially distancing, they needed some chocolate chip toppings. Yoshida gave a few of his cookies adorable chocolate chip smiley faces, so I thought it would be nice to give some of mine smiley faces, too.
Perhaps it was the wine, but seeing those faces staring back at me filled me with a sense of achievement. I made actual cookies, me! The lady who once stuck tin foil in the microwave, nearly setting the flat on fire. I mean, I still needed to bake them, but it was a nice feeling.
By this point the oven had been ‘preheating’ for a solid two hours, so I whacked the cookies in and passed the time with more wine and a handful of chocolate chips. Because I was so nervous about a mega-cookie, my dough ended up getting cooked in three separate batches. But you could probably get away with baking them in two batches.
So, what’s the final verdict?
They’re… not too bad! They’re a tad dry, but I put that down more to my own failures as a baker than Yoshida’s recipe. The coffee was a little too subtle for my liking, but that’s again probably my fault, thanks to my woefully imprecise kitchen scales.
Just as Yoshida said, the cookies go surprisingly well with red wine, too. The subtle sweetness of the cookies really helped to bring out the flavour of the wine. I don’t know exactly what flavour that was—peppery, fruity, determination +1ey?— but cookies and wine are yummy, apparently.
It had now been three hours since I started, and if I was Yoshida I would’ve gone ahead and played some games and had a nice chat for the next four hours. But honestly? Half a bottle of wine, baking cookies and washing up had left me thoroughly knackered.
I don’t know how Yoshida maintains such a consistent output of positive energy. The man has dedicated the last seven years to rebuilding what is now one of the world’s biggest MMOs from the ground up. He regularly chats about how much he works, and yet he shows no sign of stopping, taking on the role of Final Fantasy 16’s director. All I did was get bladdered at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon and I was exhausted.
It was nice to try and tap into Yoshida’s energy though, even if I only half-succeeded. If you fancy trying these yourself, maybe use less flour, or lay off the wine until
after you’ve baked the cookies. Or if you really don’t fancy battling with a messy kitchen, just level up Culinarian in Final Fantasy 14 instead—you can’t make coffee cookies but you can make adorable ginger cookies in the shape of a black mage.