Friday, March 20, 2009

chocolate chip cookie & me: a love story

I couldn’t tell you when the love affair started, but I can pinpoint when it got intense. Sort of.
Somewhere around my junior year of high school when the boy drama reached all sorts of crazy peaks and every bad day was calmed with a cookie, where every great day was brought to new heights by a cookie. (But more often than not, the bad ones...)
And just like those bad ones years ago, they still emerge on occasion. Like tonight. Where hatred for my job reached all sorts of levels. Still, a job is a job, I know. But every now and then isn’t too much, too much?
So opening the door to my house, coming face to face with the kitchen, I decided this was the time for chocolate chip cookies.

It’s something about the ritual, the process.
The creaming of the butter and sugar at 2 in the morning. The cracking of eggs and folding in of chips.
Baking, unapologetically, in my underwear and fuzzy pink slippers, bathing the whole house in the smell of baked goods in the oven. There is something about all of it that calms me down and makes my irrational thoughts just melt away. Good for not only me, but possibly the well being of anyone around me.
And it’s perfect.
Sometimes, I crave chocolate. Or rather, always...
And more often that not, I crave it in the form of a home baked, warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie.
And still, I don’t back down from my belief that most of the happiness in the world lies behind the warmth of a homemade chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven.
This is the best recipe I have ever found for chocolate chip cookies. You can throw all your other ones out because this one is just perfect. Given to me in my Introduction to Baking class by best-baking-instructor-ever Chef Rob (the hilarious kook from that Food Network Challenge Mickey Popcorn thing), these are soft and chewy. What I always do when baking cookies is I like to take them out a minute or two before they’re done, and I let them cool right on the baking sheet. They bake up just right and the yummy, chewy goodness is too much to resist. Which is why I’ll eat a good 10 or 12. In a sitting. If you are not a chewy cookie fan, you can leave them in a little bit longer and they’ll crisp up a bit for you.
But really, why would you want to?

Chef Rob’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe is in ounce-form, sorry to say. Good scales are quite inexpensive and a nice investment if baking a lot. And honestly, a worthy investment if making these cookies.

6 oz light brown sugar
6 oz granulated sugar
9 oz butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (really: optional. I very, very rarely use vanilla in my chocolate chip cookies. It’s not really necessary here if you ask me.)
2 eggs
13 oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz chocolate chips
6 oz walnuts, chopped (optional, but I do love the texture)

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or lightly grease.
2. Beat butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together until "light and fluffy". I like to say it looks more like the consistency of frosting. It gets pale and smooth and creamy. About 2-3 minutes.
3. Add in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
4. Sift the flour and baking soda together. Add in all at once to the mixture and mix until just combined. Don’t over do it. You’ll develop gluten and make a tough cookie. Nobody likes a tough cookie. Really.
5. Fold in the chips and walnuts. Drop by teaspoon-fuls onto the baking sheet. I make about 50-60 2-inch cookies with this recipe, but the outcome really depends on how big you like your cookies.

Pour a glass of milk and pile some cookies onto a plate. These are so, so delicious.

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