Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snack mom has religious experience at Episcopal school

It was my turn to bring snack for the basketball team on Friday, and I asked my son what he thought the boys would like. Brownies had been done, but otherwise the field was wide open.

Me: Krispy Kremes?
Him: No.
Me: Grapes and apples?
Him: Mom, be serious.
Him: (trying to be constructive) How about Skittles? The entire Jr. High is obsessed with Skittles.
Me: No. I will not be the mom who brings candy for snack*. Granola bars?
Him: I'm not going to dignify that with an answer. You know better than that.

The impasse has us both stumped for a minute or two.

Me: Cookies?
Him: Yes! Chocolate Chip! Thanks, Mom!

You would think this would be a breeze for me, but I have to confess that as much as I love to bake cookies, chocolate chip is one of my least favorite varieties. Maybe it's because I have a daughter who avoids chocolate like the plague, and it seems unfair to torment her. Maybe it's because I'd much rather use my personal calorie allowance gobbling up handfuls of oatmeal cookies. It could even be an aversion based on spending hours in a frat house kitchen making huge batches of the things night after night** during my formative years.

But I had to put my reluctance aside, and, to paraphrase coaches everywhere, make some for the team.

Fortunately, a little bell was ringing in the back of my mind about a blow-up in the blogosphere on just this very subject. Was I foresighted enough to have...Yes! God bless the web! Here was a recipe I'd e-mailed myself after reading a blog*** that referenced an article in the NY Times just in case someday I decided to, in fact, make chocolate chip cookies. The descriptions in both places (perfectly crispy on the outside, chewy gooey on the inside, the word "consummate" bandied about) made even my jaded mouth water.

A 1/2 hour before the game, the cookies came out of the oven, and we headed to the gym. The final score was not, unfortunately, in the team's favor****. These cookies, however, were BIG winners!

I'm Now a Convert Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used the recipe from SmittenKitchen (I think the melted butter and the egg/egg yolk combo is a winner), but applied the techniques from the article (resting time, sea salt sprinkle). The combination is unbelievably great. If I had been a chocolate chip cookie person from the get go, I may have cried when I ate one. As it was, I became an instant convert that afternoon. Praise the Lord and pass the cookies!

2 cups all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
generous 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
2. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. (I cheated and used the mixer. I also used mini chocolate chips because I had a bunch. No matter what size you use, choose very good quality chocolate chips!)

4. If you have the time, refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours, or up to 36. Even an hour or so will help*****. This fridge time is the "special touch" that the NY Times article found gave the cookies a rich, dark toffee flavor.

5. Preheat the oven to 325. Using a small ice cream scoop or a large spoon, form dough into balls a little smaller than a golf ball, and place 2-3 inches apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Pat the cookies down just slightly with your fingertips, and sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt.

You can just see a light sprinkle of salt on the tops

6. Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until edges are just brown and center is light golden. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool further, if you have enough self-restraint.

* Although apparently I am fine with being the mom who brings Krispy Kreme doughnuts for snack.
** My first stab at entrepreneurship came as a junior in college, when my best friend and I started a business where we baked hot cookies in the kitchen of one of the fraternity houses and delivered them, with cold milk, anywhere on campus. Our rent was minimal (a tray of cookies for the guys in the frat), and we even had customers who would stop by and pay for a scoop of dough to eat on their way home from the library. We had a secret recipe (this one is better), our logo on sweatshirts, a delivery moped, and even a staff newsletter with hand drawn cartoons! Eventually we had to close when the frat realized we were actually earning money. They decided to kick us out and start making and delivering sandwiches themselves instead. Come on! Who wants a cold sandwich in the middle of the night? That brilliant business idea lasted a less than a month.
*** Specifically, SmittenKitchen, an incredibly well done food site that I admire to no end. You should see the photo from her post of this recipe showing the chocolate chips literally cascading into the mixing bowl. Stunning!
**** It's going to be a long, long season, I'm afraid.
***** You can also scoop out the cookie dough into balls, and freeze them to cook whenever you want a fresh batch. You can cook them straight from the freezer: just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.

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