*The following is from today’s first in-class writing exercise from my “About Food” creative nonfiction class. Can’t wait for the rest of the semester in this class!
Soft, cakey and gooey — those are the winning adjectives for chocolate chip cookies. Alton Brown of the Food Network may describe how to make The Thin, The Puffy and The Chewy, and while they’re all good, they don’t hit you like the traditional Toll House.
Just out of the oven, they may be a tad too hot — don’t let the chocolate burn your tongue to prevent enjoyment of further cookies. Be patient, pour a glass of cold milk, smell the rich aroma in the kitchen that even the best attempt of a candle from Bath & Body Works can’t beat (I promise you, it’s not the same). Then, bite into the soft cookie that’s still not quite firm, taste the still-melted chocolate chips that aren’t overly sweet, yet not too bitter.
Adding extra brown sugar lends the treat a chewiness that white can’t match. It’s a simple combination: cream the soft butter with both sugars, add eggs and vanilla, gradually mix in flour and baking soda, finally, the semisweet chips. Don’t think about varying too much from the recipe on the back of the yellow bag — the five pound one that my mom buys for all our baking needs.
One of the reasons they’re so comforting is the process of carefully measuring the ingredients, mixing the batter by hand or electronically, analyzing the recipe (or memorizing it as my mom and I have done), which all brings calmness for just a few minutes. My mom sometimes whips them up after a bad day or whenever a chocolate craving strikes. Another perfect time is after a long, hard day of playing in the snow. Emma, Sarah and I would hang up our sopping socks and gloves, crash on the couch for some quality episodes of Gilmore Girls or the OC on DVD, and there my mom would be, ready with cinnamon-topped Mexican hot chocolate and a plateful of just-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. Nothing else can take away the chill like those cookies. Each slightly different shaped and sized, you can tell they’re not out of a bag and full of preservatives, but instead, they’re ready for anything — for warmth, happiness, sorrow, comfort, or, just for a full tummy.