Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Temporary Remedy for Twenty-Something Existential Dread (with recipe)

After a long day with a bout or two of momentary, couch-ridden self-pity, maybe a little bit of traditional, twenty-something existential dread, and a dash of money woes, what does a girl need more than a glass of Cherry Coke and a warm chocolate chip cookie? Nothing. There is no cure other than that just described.

And what's a girl to do when there are no sweets to be found in the house? She makes her own chocolate chip cookies. And what does she do when she has no chocolate of any kind at her immediate disposal? She shoves a tenner in her pocket, walks to the gas station on the corner and buys two bags of Hershey's Milk Chocolate Drops. Have you tasted these? She's keeping them out of sight until the recipe tells me to throw them in.

Oh, also her kitchen is a mess and she made a promise to herself and her boyfriend that she would have her kitchen cleaned by 9:00 pm (not because he cares about the state of her kitchen, but because she needs someone to be accountable to--not that he would even hold her accountable but it would give her an excuse to feel the inevitable embarrassment if he came home from band practice and it turns out that she's still not cleaned the kitchen).

Can she clean her kitchen whilst simultaneously making a small batch of chocolate chip cookies while photographing it for her blog all by 9:00 pm? We'll find out. I will need Ira Glass' help. He always helps me to focus.

This episode of This American Life was really exciting. Okay, "exciting" isn't the right word. It was quite heartbreaking. But it held my attention as if it had grabbed my face.

It was difficult to do much of the cleaning but I did get to the important bits--that is the counter space next to the oven. Also I was out of eggs and I forgot about that until I'd reached the point of no return. So I went downstairs and asked my brother and sister-in-law if I could have two eggs. Adam said, "Yes." Arryn said, "Sure." Amos (who is now three-years-old and was sitting on the floor looking, happily, at his Maisey book) said, "No. I need to eat dem." I said, "What?"
"No, Beebee. I need to eat dem."
"But I need to borrow these eggs so that I can make some cookies."
"Ooh, I yike goo-kies!"
"Yes, so if you'd let me have two of them, then I will bring you one in the morning. So can I have them?"
"I guess so, Beebee."
I love that guy. We high-fived it out and I left before I could answer his question about why you'd need eggs in cookies.

When I put the batter into the fridge to harden up a little bit before I scooped it onto cookie sheets, I got some dishes done. But it's hard to listen to This American Life while you're running water and sloshing it around so I tried to be as quiet as possible. Then Andrew came and we ended up talking about--God only knows what. So I didn't do a ton of dishes done but I did get the most important things washed. Coffee cups, forks, spoons, plates, bowls. All that, of course, while making a brand new and more current mess.
But doesn't that mess look delicious? I promise that at the point of this blog's publication, that mess has been eradicated. But I can't say that there aren't a few pots and pans still waiting for a soak in the jacuzzi that is my kitchen sink. That is to say, no, my kitchen is still not clean.

I can say that all I needed was just one cookie and just one glass of milk and just one big laugh with my brother and just one kiss and just one good night's sleep to take care of those overwhelmed feelings. It's incredible all of the things that can get into a brain to start to eat holes into itself--but how little it takes to push those out of your mind for a little while.

Shortly after this photograph is taken, spill the entire cup of coffee, narrowly
missing the electronics. This step is optional and, frankly, kind of annoying.
And then breakfast is delicious. One chocolate chip cookie with 20% Coffee Mate Peppermint Mocha and 80% coffee.

So I made these cookies in a method that I've never used before but I'm going to do for as long as I make cookies from here on out.  The recipe that I got is from this blog--but I'll include the recipe at the end of this post with my own notes, said to melt the butter and then cream in the sugars and then later the eggs (one egg and one egg yolk). Everything about this recipe said "don't get too fluffy, cookies, we want you to be dense and chewy." And it totally worked out that way. Which is awesome because that is my favorite.

Eric Wolitzky's Chocolate Chip Cookies (Eric Wolitzky from Top Chef: Just Desserts Season 1 fame, I guess. I haven't seen it but if I'd known this show existed, of course I would have watched it.)

1 1/2 sticks butter (Melt this butter--I did it in the microwave but I'm sure if you got creative, you could think of tons of less efficient ways to melt butter.)

1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (no one said these cookies wouldn't kill you)
 Put all of these things in a bowl and cream them together until they're just combined. To get the perfect texture of dense and chewy, excess air is your enemy. But, you know, mix them together well.

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Put all of these things in a separate bowl and whisk them together.

Now, crack one egg and the yolk of another egg in with the butter and sugar. Cream those together, too. Not too much. (Let's get real, if you do mix it "too much" it's not the end of the world, your cookies just might be a little bit cake-ier than I, personally, like them. But when it gets down to it a chocolate chip cookie is a chocolate chip cookie. Just like the old joke about pizza and sex. Even when it's bad it's still pretty good.)

Start adding your flour mixture a little bit at a time. Mix until it's all incorporated and no more. Add a little more. Mix until it's all incorporated and no more. Add a little more. Mix until it's all incorporated. And repeat until most of your flour mixture is gone. You might use it all. You might not. I don't know how to describe when you've got enough. Can I just say "you'll know"? Maybe you won't. I don't know--when it looks like cookie dough? Not too squingy? If you pick up a ball in your hand and it sticks to your fingers a ton, add more flour. If it doesn't but it does kind of puddle out a little bit--that's ideal. This is confusing. I just want to say that you probably can't screw this up. It's chocolate and butter and sugar and then you're going to bake it all together. Just follow the instructions and go in faith, my brothers.  Wait, you're using a mixer to do all this, right? Because if you're just using your arm, it's gonna get sleepy.

The recipe calls for 10 ounces of chocolate chips but I used 2 king sized bags of Hershey's Drops and cut those big bits in half. I like dark chocolate for eating but I like milk chocolate in my cookies. Stir in the chocolate of your choosing and sit it in the fridge while you wash your coffee mugs and let the oven preheat to 325.

I used a regular spoon to scoop out some bits, roll them into balls and then put them onto a cookie sheet. Use a few fingers (your own, borrowed fingers may work just as well) and squish them out a little bit. Don't grease the cookie sheet (every. single. time. that I make cookies, I always have a little panic attack at this point and think, "Do I spray the sheet? Do I not? I'm not gonna." And that is usually the right answer.). Ideally you'll use parchment or silpat to line your cookie sheet but let's get real here. I can't afford that crap. So, I fit about 9 cookies on each sheet. But my sheets are kind of smallish and also I wasn't totally sure how much they would spread.
If you bake them in my oven, you want to leave them in for about 11 minutes. But they get a really good golden-brown on them and if you're attentive, you'll know when they're through. A secret that my mom taught me--don't bother checking until you can smell them. This might not be a good rule of thumb, though, if you have a cold or live in a gigantic house or if you are my friend Timmy who was born without a sense of smell.

Was that okay? Did I cover all of the bases? My recipe made 18 big-ish cookies. I am going to go take them down to my nieces and nephew as promised. Aunt Libby brings cookies at 9:30 am. I'm the best.
Also, remember that you can't ruin them. Unless you burn them.

1 comment:

Katie Hurl said...

I want one soooo bad!! (But not bad enough to go purchase all the ingredients and make them myself, obviously.)

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