The elusive

March 27, 2011 § Leave a comment



If you could count the hours that I’m spent with the window of a coffee shop between me and the downpour outside…well let’s just say that’s near impossible. It’s poured for days on end, wild winds have whipped down trees into the roads, and then for one day, the clouds drift by and the skies clear and we have one lonely day of peace. People come out of hiding in flocks, line-up in front of the awnings of popular brunch spots (or drunkenly mill around on the sidewalk, pushing each other into other people and pole dancing on top of cars until the police hop out of their car, all in celebration of Britney Spears’ visit to town), and make a run for ice cream before the downpour starts again in full force. The desire to be on the road again becomes more and more urgent. And so I’ve been making cookies. Cookies to convince myself that home is where I’m meant to be.

The funny thing about baking is that you can’t really do it on the road. It’s one activity that is, practically by definition, tied to the home. Sure you might be able to bake a batch of cookies under the glaring hot desert sun (p.s. have you seen my Civil Eats article on solar cooking?) but if you want to do anything more than that, you basically have to sit still for awhile. I’ve never been very good at that. But I’ll be doing that for the next two months, so I guess I’m going to have to start practicing.

Looking at these pictures of cookies, you likely don’t believe that they’re all the same cookies. And they’re not. The coffee shop syndrome has set in, alongside the urgent need to produce that perfect, chewy, with slightly crispy edges, hard on the outside, soft on the inside, chocolate chip cookies that every coffee shop seems privy to but the home baker cannot replicate without mild cursing. This is actually two sets of cookies made with two different recipes, one new, one tried-and-true, and a couple of similar tricks and alterations. The nuts are cropped finely so as not to interrupt the chocolate chip cookies experience a la Smitten Kitchen. The flour is whole wheat a la Kim Boyce after her whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies won me over with their salty-nutty graininess. The butter is browned in one, creamed in the other. While I would normally bow to the browned butter, I would actually say creaming is the way to go with these. And so, finally, I’m back to my family’s original chocolate chip cookie. Just with whole-wheat flour. Who knew it was that simple.

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