A proud moment occurred in my life recently. This may seem trivial and small to you; however, I assure you from the standpoint of someone who has regular mishaps with cooking, the fact that I managed NOT to burn something as simple as chocolate chip cookies is a celebratory moment for me.
It may seem like I have disappeared off the face of the earth, with the lack of writing recently, but rest assured–I have been busy with other things–one of which is preparing for my daughter’s first birthday party! *GASP* It sounds cliché, I know, but I am constantly amazed at how having a baby has changed my life for the past eleven months. Finding the time to work, sleep, pay bills, shower, you know–the basics, can be difficult sometimes. The past couple of months baking have been put into the back of my mind. Especially after I destroyed the double-chocolate chip cookies, a recipe that I found on Hershey’s web site. I’m assure Hershey’s would have been ashamed of me.
Several months ago, around mid-December, it was my boss’s birthday. Seeing as how we all try to contribute a little bit whenever someone at the office has a birthday, I decided to bake cookies. Not knowing whether or not he’d like them, I knew that nothing could be better than double-chocolate chip cookies. I stumbled upon a recipe while reading a magazine (a cooking magazine, of all sorts), and found the same recipe on Hershey’s web site. I knew I had to try it. So I braved it out, woke up at 5:30 a.m., thinking I’d have enough time to bake the cookies and imagined the surprised look on my boss’s face as I presented the cookies, the oohs and the ahhs at the smell of freshly baked cookies from my coworkers. I’d beam and smile, then feign modesty, saying, “Oh these? You’re welcome. It was no trouble at all.” (insert more smiles). 🙂 🙂
Did it happen that way? No. Let’s just say the cookies never made it to the office. I made several mistakes in the baking process. The first mistake was forgetting to include an ingredient while mixing, and realized it several minutes later, and thinking that it wouldn’t be too late, I added it anyway. Then as I’m mixing my batch of dough, I had the incredibly CRAZY idea to add an extra egg, even though the recipe didn’t call for it. I looked at my cookie dough whisked by hand and thought that it was too dry. How on earth could I be able to form this into a dough ball?? I thought to myself. Hmm…more eggs? More flour? Why, yes! Wrrrooonnnggg… as much as I read and re-read the recipe prior to baking I strayed from it, and what resulted from a sloppy, too-soft-to-be-able-to-bake-into-a-cookie type of dough that melted in the baking pan. (Not to mention, I forgot to grease the pan. Another mishap).
Forget the fact that I don’t have a food processor. Having a food processor or a Kitchenaid is out of my reach right now, so mixing by hand every time I attempt to bake cookies is a must. Needless to say, my too sloppy & wet cookies went into the trash as fast as I can let out a single curse word or two. After that, I vowed to devote my free time other things, like reading. So much simpler.
This weekend happened to be a very special weekend. It happened by accident, actually. We had what was called “snowpocalypse”–the whole town was engulfed in several feet of snow, and large sheets of ice, making travel very difficult. City officials alerted everyone to stay inside and public transportation was sporadic. That means SNOW DAY for just about everyone in town! So, what does one do on a snow day, besides playing in the snow (ice)? This one bakes cookies.
I don’t know where I got the urge to bake cookies. Maybe I’m getting cabin fever, I don’t know. All I knew was the urge was strong enough to where I felt like I wanted to stuff more unhealthy choices into my body. Forget the fact that I already had about five cups of coffee in the past couple of days. Forget breakfast. Cookies was on my mind. I researched a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies and found Martha Stewart’s version here.(If you know me, you know that I am a big fan of Martha). It seemed simple enough, so I used it.
Besides having to mix cookie dough by hand, which takes a lot of grunt work (that’s right–you gotta put those muscles to work!), I learned from my mistakes from last time. I resisted the urge to add more eggs and flour as I stood there and pondered whether or not my flour would fold in nicely or would be loosely packed, hoping that I didn’t accidentally add too much flour. I wondered if the eggs were large enough and decided that they were, and even if they weren’t, I wasn’t going to add anything extra that the recipe didn’t tell me to. I worked on my technique in making sure all the ingredients were well combined. Taking the time to mold and shape the cookie scoops made a difference. Instead of plopping the cookies using ice cream scoops onto the baking sheet, you must take a few minutes to “round them out” meaning shape them to the point where they look like they resemble small cookie snowballs.
Oh, silly me. Cookie snowballs. Alas, the cookies turned out much better this time. Crunchy around the edges, and soft and chewy on the inside. Success! Lesson learned. My fear of burning things has subsided. I may step back into the kitchen to bake some more now. Maybe with another snow day in hand, I just may. If not, then it’s time to get back into the regular swing of things.