With Fifty Shades of Grey coming out next week, I started thinking about ordinary people and their secrets. What do we really know about the people around us?
I sure don’t expect you to come clean about any Jeykll/Hyde behavior you may possess without my own confessional thrown into the conversation to break the ice. Mine pales in comparison to the private antics shown in Fifty Shades. Although I can relate to Ana in that I also love Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the only experience I have with dominance and submission is when I’m tenderizing octopus. But I do have a shameful habit, and every so often, it comes to bite me in the tuckus (just figuratively).
My very minor character flaw has to do with my penchant of adopting other people’s stories as my own. I know it sounds innocent, and who am I harming anyway? For example, when the topic of pop concerts came up at a Christmas party, and I was asked to name the coolest concert I’d been to as a teen, I lied, and used my friend Dorothy’s, “Erasure” experience. “OMG, Andy Bell was wearing skin tight red leggings with a cropped shirt, and in the middle of the concert, his junk was getting bigger, and he just looked at the audience, and whispered, oops,” was what I said. I was never at that concert or any other rock concert as a teen for that matter. I begged my parents to let me go, but my dad forbade it. For some reason, he believed rock concerts were full of drugs and sex.
This habit at times transfers over to my cooking repertoire. Just recently, I was boasting to neighbors about some delicious chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies I baked, when in reality, I usurped the baking experience straight out of my friend’s kitchen. I didn’t think much of it until I was asked to bake some cookies for a function. What? I’ve never actually baked cookies, not even from a box. I had to turn to another lie to get out of the previous one.
Because I felt awful about this latest relapse, I spent the entire week testing various cookie recipes. Almost 50 cookies later in every shade of caramel, I’ve found the most perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Boy, is it a good one—that is if you love soft centers, crispy edges, and melty chocolate paired with nutty macadamias.
My version is slightly altered from the chocolate chip recipe from The Gramercy Tavern cookbook, which is 337 glossy pages of food porn but in a classy sort of way. Nancy Olson is the pastry chef at the Manhattan restaurant, and in a chocolate chip cookie showdown with a fancy French chef named Gregory Marchand, she kicked butt.
A whole lot of cookies later, which I shared with friends, kids on Henry’s basketball team, and anyone else that came across my cookie baking path in the last week, I think I’ve turned a corner. I am ultimately hurting myself when I fib for no reason—isn’t that what I always tell the kids—and I will try not to pass off other people’s stories as my own, even if they are wonderful woven tales of mystery and intrigue.
Now, it’s your turn.
(Aside: Dorothy, a true concert goer and doer of all cool things, is now an OB/GYN and heads a medical group in Manhattan.)
- (Very slightly altered from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook)
- 1 3/4 c plus 1 tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 10 tbs (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temp.
- 1 c plus 2 tbs packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk at room temp.
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 ounces of chopped chocolate (mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet)
- 1 c roasted and salted macadamia nuts (chopped as coarsely as you like)
- (If nuts are omitted, add 3/4 tsp salt to dough)
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. (Add salt here if omitting nuts.)
- In another bowl or a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed just until well combined. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla and beat for another minute. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure ingredients are well combined.
- Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Add the rest of the flour mixture, and continue mixing on low until everything is well combined. Do not over-mix.
- Fold in chopped chocolate and nuts, making sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before baking.
- (Or you can make meatball sized cookie balls, place on a parchment lined sheet, and freeze. Once frozen, the cookie balls can be collected and stored frozen in a plastic bag.)
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degree F.
- Remove cookie dough from fridge, make meatball sized balls, and place on ungreased baking sheets. Arrange the balls about 3 inches apart on two sheets.
- Bake, switching pans mid-way, for 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown but soft in the center.
- If baking frozen cookies, bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cookies cool completely before storing.
Chill dough for at least 6 hours in the fridge to avoid cookies that spread out too much. (For fat domed cookies, freeze cookie dough that has been shaped, and bake frozen.) To make life easier, use an ice cream scooper to plop dough down onto cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. If you like flat chewy cookies, bake immediately, although pastry chefs always recommend chilling dough before baking. Finally, let cookies rest on baking sheet for a minute before letting it completely cool on a rack.
Finally, finally, check on cookies 10 minutes into baking. Everyone’s oven is a bit different, and I’d hate for you to burn the bottoms of these cookies.