Monday, June 12, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies: An Ode

There is nothing quite like the chocolate chip cookie. I'm not talking about the store-bought variety: OK in a pinch, but lacking the warmth and comfort of the home-made variety. Nope, I'm talking about the wonder of those you bake at home. My current fave recipe is by Anna Olson of Sugar on Food Network Canada.

Even if you can't bake well, you cannot create a cookie that is awful...unless you neglect to turn on the timer and overbake them into hockey pucks or get so impatient you take them out waaay too early. But enough about my mistakes...

The perfect chocolate chip cookie is a sublime combination of tiny morsels of chocolate nestled in buttery baked dough, crisp or soft, that cannot be resisted. There are an infinite variety of recipes. Some are basic, eschewing nuts, raisins, oats, and nut butters. Some are decadent, adding chocolate to the batter, white or dark, and extra chips. Some are in the crisp camp; others in the soft.

For me the perfect recipe, starts with the right ingredients: organic. You cannot create a heavenly cookie with sugar that tastes of chemicals, butter that's bland, flour that's been treated to within an inch of its life, vanilla that doesn't have the narcotizing fragrance of the organic kind, eggs from chickens that never see daylight, and especially chocolate that doesn't transport you to another world. Some believe the only way to get the latter is to buy a bar of callebaut and chop. That's too much work. One must buy organic chocolate chip cookies -- chips with the happiness-inducing effect of dark organic chocolate but with the right melting properties of the perfect chip.

Once you have the ingredients lined up and measured, it's a cinch to beat them together. The trick is in the baking. Too long and you have crunchy critters; too short and you have chewy unbaked cookie dough. One tip: rotate the cookie sheets mid-cooking time from back to front and top to bottom. The other essential is to set the timer. That's the cookies' way of yelling, "Hey! Stop chowing down on the cookie dough left in the bowl and check me out!! And by the way, you couldn't have made another cookie or 3 from all that dough, could ya? We're lonely in here."

Heed the timer's call, be patient in waiting that 2 minutes for the cookies to firm up, watch your fingers as you pick up a hot one, don't burn your tongue, and be prepared to de-stress and feel good, real good.

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