Monday, 14 November 2011

The Comfort of Chocolate Chip Cookies (and a Rant)

My mother used to call me Cookie Monster: she'd buy a bag of Chips Ahoy, and my brother and I would make the contents of that bag vanish before she had time to put the rest of the groceries away. It was impressive, but then, we were growing adolescents... To this day, I still eat my cookies like a kid, curled up on the couch or in my reading chair, with a big glass of milk. The only difference is that I now content myself with 1 or 2 cookies, instead of scarfing down half the bag. Oh, the wisdom that comes with age and with a slowing metabolism...

The past few weeks at work have been on the crazy side, and I decided that a little home-made, chocolate-y comfort food was in order. Also, the days getting dramatically shorter make me want to curl up at home and pout. I miss the sunlight, and even if cold weather gives me the opportunity to whip up stews, soups and other awesome rich winter dishes I sometimes long for in summer, I still miss the days where my hoodie is something I put on to take an evening stroll, not a clothing item I wear all day long. So a little "pick me up" treat with loads of sugar was in order.

My last attempt at baking cookies was not exactly successful, probably because I got ambitious and picked a rather elaborate recipe that my baking-skills were not quite ready to tackle. Somehow, making cupcakes is much easier for me than making cookies. Go figure. So I decided to go with a very simple and classic cookie, something almost fail-proof: chocolate chips!

I had one ingredient I absolutely wanted to add to my cookies, and that ingredient is white chocolate. I know, I know: white chocolate is nothing but sugar, with very little of the healthy cocoa found in the good dark chocolate that nutritionists recommend we eat. But when I am flattened with exhaustion on my couch, the nutritional concern goes out the window and I just want to bask in the sinful deliciousness of the white chocolate. I am a sugar-bug deep down inside, and I love the intoxicating sweetness of white chocolate. It's my crack.

Now a little disclaimer about cooking in general, particularly baking. I had to deal with some rather narrow-minded remarks when people realize that I love my kitchen time. As if being inked, having purple hair and listening to the Dead Kennedys automatically meant that I was some sort of culinary-inept bum. As I mentioned before, nothing is more punk-rock and DIY than home-cooking. Also, cooking is an amazing and rewarding way to spend time. I don't know how other people feel when they are cooking, but it can be almost meditative: you have to be in the here and now (especially with baking)! It keeps me focused, on top of being a creative and experimental endeavor. I'm always learning, always having fun, and I eat delicious meals all the time.

The "housewife" in this blog's title is ironic, because of all the archaic stereotypes associated with the word. I use it to poke fun at the idea that people who like to cook and enjoy their homes are Martha Stewart drones. Hopefully, some prejudice somewhere will be destroyed by bad-ass chicks who can bake up a storm.

Now let's make cookies!

I got this chocolate chip cookie recipe from "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar", which also contains a whole wheat version. I baked the classic recipe mostly because I didn't have any whole wheat flour at home. Oops! And obviously, I substituted the classic semi-sweet chocolate chips for white chocolate ones. Feel free to got nuts (no pun intended) with the chips: use whatever chocolate you like and add dried fruits and walnuts if the mood strikes. Even butterscotch chips could work here, if you want to be insanely decadent, but the cookies may no longer be vegan...

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon tapioca powder or cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Combine the sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour (or cornstarch) in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until the mixture resembles smooth caramel. Mix in the vanilla. Add 1 cup of flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stiff, so use the hands to really work the chips in. Roll the dough into ping-pong ball-sized balls. Flatten them with the hands to 2 1/2 inches. Place 8 on each baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until they get just a bit browned around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.

I make big cookies, so I get anywhere between 12 and 16 with this amount of dough, but you can make them smaller and get 24. If you do make smaller cookies, reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes, or they will get very crunchy. Also, this dough is sticky, so I recommend flouring your hands carefully before making your dough balls, otherwise, they will stick to your fingers very stubbornly. Your reward for the flour-mess will be delicious cookies that are just sweet enough, with a crispy outside and a moist inside. This is also a practical recipe, because the mixing is all done in one big bowl, which means less dishes to clean; something I never fail to appreciate.

The big glass of milk is not mandatory, but it's wonderfully comforting. Besides, doesn't it just make you giddy, dipping a big cookie in some milk and chomping down on it like a rabid maniac? Is that just me?...

Store those babies is a air-tight plastic container to keep them fresh and double the batch if you have company. These cookies disappear alarmingly fast!

1 comment:

  1. The chocolate cookies informative blog is nice and good. Thanks for sharing great information with us.