So many superlatives in that headline, I know.
But it’s my blog and it’s Thanksgiving week, so I guess I can get away with that kind of stuff.
In today’s food section, I wrote a little homage to my sister and her incredible love of chocolate chip cookies. The cookies themselves are out-of-this-world, but I hope you’ll get the real message in the story, which I’ll republish below, including the recipe.
“Sometimes we beat the preheat.”
My sister is about to make a batch of cookies.
Not just any cookies. “Look up ‘Land O’ Lakes Chewy Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies’,” she said when I was visiting her in her snow-covered Boise home last week.
She said the words as if she were typing the words into Google herself. Two clicks later, I found her beloved recipe, which says the prep time should take 30 minutes.
Not for Chelsea.
She flies through the instructions, carefully but swiftly measuring flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. She decides the butter, though having sat on the counter in her Idaho kitchen for six hours, had not come to sufficient room temperature, so she softened the sticks in 5-second bursts in the microwave.
It’s a large batch of dough, and my sister says it freezes well if you want to save half for later. But in her house, “it never makes it to the freezer.”
Like professional chocolate chip tasters, she and her husband, Kenny, taste and rate a new kind of bittersweet dark chocolate chips she found on sale at WinCo, her favorite grocery store, a mix of Costco, Sprouts and Aldi, unlike anything we have here in Austin. (A little too bitter for him, but they agreed the larger morsels were a plus.)
After fork-whisking the dry ingredients, she added all the wet ingredients, including the sugars, into a large bowl and used a hand blender to bring together. No one egg at a time-and-cream business for her.
Sure enough, the preheat timer went off, just as she was about to add the chocolate chips, which she mixed in by hand with a wooden spoon. Before pulling out the ice cream scoop, she pinched off a piece of dough. “See how dry it is?” she said. “You should be able to drop it without it sticking to your fingers.” The super moist dough that sticks all over your fingers she does not understand.
With the dough meeting her moisture standards, she uses an ice cream scoop with a thumb release lever to make three rows and four columns of dough, 12 shaggy spheres that will soon become cookies. She doesn’t have a fancy (or rimless) baking sheet, and she doesn’t need one.
She shoves them in the just-heated oven and sets the timer.
Thirteen minutes later, the oven beeps. Out come the cookies, and they cool directly on the pan. Within minutes, Chelsea and Kenny each get a little plate with a few cookies, plus a little glass of milk, and do the same for me.
You can tell the cookies are evenly cooked because of their color, but it isn’t until you bite into them that you realize it’s exactly the toothsome texture you’ve always loved in fresh baked cookies but that you only get when someone has Tiff’s Treats delivered to the office.
Hers don’t have quite as much sugar or butter, it seems, but they evoke that same comforting, nostalgic feeling.
It’s hard not to eat the whole batch. But then you remember: that kind of saccharine endorphin rush is best in small doses. The less you have, the sweeter it is.
I took a bag of her cookies with me on the plane and shared them with my kids the next day. They’d crumbled into a million pieces over the long journey, but none of us cared.
Chelsea’s Chewy Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
I might not be able to bake cookies with my sister, Chelsea, as often as I’d like, but now I know, always and forever, what my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe will be.
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 (12-oz.) package (2 cups) dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make sure the butter is softened. If it’s even the least bit chilly, microwave in 5 second increments, turning the sticks or plate to slowly heat the butter evenly.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in bowl, and set aside.
Add butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla to another bowl. Beat with a handheld mixer at medium speed until well mixed. Slowly add flour mixture, beating at low speed until combined. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the chocolate chips.
Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Using an ice cream scoop, drop golf ball-sized mounds of dough two inches apart on the sheet. Bake 12-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool five minutes and serve with milk.
— Adapted from a Land O’ Lakes recipe by Chelsea Barrett