For months now, at the request of family members, friends, strangers even, we have dutifully removed our shoes and assumed the “back-to-back” position, while these…people, bent their knees, leveled off their point-of-view and eyeballed our heads. And then, rising back up, these same people would sigh and declare, “Nope. Not yet.”
And so it was, the second week of January 2010, in the midst of making dinner on an already rushed school night, my sweetie says, “Hey, wait a minute, you two. Stand back to back.” To which I replied, “I’m in the middle of making dinner.” “Oh, it’ll just take a second. Come on.” I dutifully removed my shoes sensing there was no way out of it, turned my back and stood there staring straight ahead as my husband eyeballed our heads. Then, with a big grin on his face, he straightened back up and said, “Well, it’s official. She’s taller than you.”
I always knew this day would be here. At least, I knew, hypothetically. All those years of playfully saying, “One day, you’ll be bigger than Mommy.” I could surmise. Make an educated guess…but I don’t think I really knew what it would be like when it was truth. When my 12-year old daughter would literally have one up on me. No, not really. And so, here I am, on the other side of the yardstick and it’s definitely a peculiar feeling. To no longer have that “physical stature” over another person especially one much, much younger than you. To have to reach up to hug your child. A bit surreal, I’d say.
While I do consider myself quite the foodie and try to keep my finger on the pulse of the “food world”, I missed the heated fervor surrounding the infamous “New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie” recipe last summer. Never heard a word about it. Not a peep. Could be that I don’t bake. Not really. I don’t have the patience for it. It’s so exacting. I just want to toss in a little of this, a little of that. But, when my sweet, mother-in-law, whom I’ve talked about before here, emailed me the link to the recipe concurrently as the measuring of the heights was happening, one glance at the recipe and I knew…this was the answer.
Perhaps I was feeling a bit insecure about my new place in the line-up. Perhaps it wasn’t insecurity so much as a little bit of wistfulness…she’s growing up and there’s no stopping it. We even have physical evidence, now, of this occurrence. While my kind and thoughtful mother kept a steady stream of snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies going my entire childhood, my children have never known this cookie parade. So, the cookies, these NYT cookies, would be rather novel to them…or more specifically, her. It’s not bribery. I’m not buying her love, her respect, her admiration. No, no, no. Nothing like that. I am still her mother, after all. I still have the power to take away her beloved cell phone, iPod, favorite pair of jeans, should the occasion present itself. She’s too young to even get a job to support herself, for crying out loud…but, then again, no one can get a job right now…but that’s beside the point. It’s just insurance. A little tiny insurance policy I’ve written up on my own to the tune of…the way to a child’s heart…
And, with that, I got down to business which was challenging to say the least. Baking requires intense concentration. Focused thinking. I am anything but focused. My time is always fractured…between constantly being interrupted by my lovely offspring and my brain that jumps around from thought to thought as if it were a flea, it’s amazing I get anything done. And, then, the whole…dip and sweep method of measuring flour makes me crazy, but dip, I did. And I definitely don’t sift but considering the circumstances, I dug my little sifter out from the hinterlands of my pantry while simultaneously searching for the “paddle” attachment for my mixer (not realizing that the “paddle” attachment is just the regular ole mixing attachment I’ve always used which looks nothing like a paddle.) And, then, I tried to stay focused on the directions…”two kinds of flour”. Two kinds of flour! And, then, back and forth between my work station and the computer trying to read the recipe typed in what appeared to be an 8 point font and trying not to forget the quantity listed for my next ingredient during the 3 foot walk from the recipe back to the work station. Since my sifter is so small, I had to sift in batches which may defeat the whole purpose of sifting but I rather liked the little volcano-like pile forming on my cutting board which reminded me of Hawaii, which made me think of sun, which caused me to look hopefully outside the window…nope, still gray.
One thing you should know about me, dear friend, is that even though I don’t bake much, when I bake chocolate chip cookies, I require a specific “dough-to-chocolate” ratio. The first time I made these cookies (yes, I’ve made them more than once), I followed this bloggers advice and just dumped two bags of the Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips in. Waaaaay too much chocolate in my opinion. If I wanted that much chocolate, I’d just break off part of a bar, which is healthier for you anyways. No. If I’m going to go to the trouble of making myself a sugary, buttery, white flour concoction then, I sure as heck better taste the sugar, butter and flour.
On my second round of making this little recipe and adjusting the chocolate quantity, my daughter arrived home from school, twirls into the kitchen and says, “Mom, whatcha makin’?” No response from me but upon seeing me at work says, “Oh, wow. Cookies again?”Okay, so maybe I’ve roused a bit of suspicion with my seemingly, sudden interest in baking, but she’ll never know. Not really. Unless, of course, you tell her. So, don’t. Mum’s the word.
The next morning, bright and early, there I am again baking cookies. (The dough lasts forever.) My daughter thumps down the stairs and again says, “Wow, Mom. More cookies…um, thanks.” To which I say, poker-faced, “Why don’t you take some of these cookies to school and give them out to your friends? We’ll never eat all of these.” Do you see how sly and subtle that was? Now, I have just added extra insurance to my policy by hooking the friends.
On the way up to bed last night, my daughter snatches the last of the cookies. A half a cookie to be exact. She hollers out to me as she climbs the stairs, “Mom, I can’t stop eating these cookies. They are so good. Oh, and Mom, my friends devoured the cookies. They just loved them.” I tried to suppress the little knowing smile upon hearing this. “Ahh…my work here is done.” Well, not done exactly…but, put in motion. No matter how “big” she gets, she’ll keep coming home for more of these cookies…at least, that’s the plan…my little, tiny…insurance plan.
The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
If I may…I suggest reading this recipe in its entirety before you take on making it…no matter how desperate you may be for your own “insurance policy.” They are unbelievably scrumptious. That perfect combination of just a slight crunch of the crust to a gooey, chocolaty, buttery inside. Heaven. But, to arrive at this state of near perfection, requires a “resting period of 24 to 72 hours” for the dough. For more details into the hows and whys of the “resting period”, click here. Otherwise, carry on…..
2 cups minus 2 tbsp cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened, room temp
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, feves or chips, at least 60 percent cacao
(Ghiardhelli makes a 60% chip you can find in most grocery stores. I used one 12 oz bag of Whole Foods 365 brand of dark chocolate chips, originally, but my new favorite for these is a 12 oz bag of Guittard, extra-dark chocolate chips, 63% cacao.)
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. (Or, you may choose to bag this step and just dump these ingredients all in at the end. It depends on your situation.)
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough my be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
Scoop mounds of dough, approximately the size of golf balls, onto baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. I find that 14 minutes is the perfect amount of time for these cookies but I may not make them as large as the original recipe writers. I then let them cool on the sheet for about a minute or so and then, transfer them to a wire rack to cool a bit more, if someone doesn’t come by and swipe one or two…or three, before the requisite cooling period is over. As the original recipe says, “Eat warm, with a big napkin.” And, I’d add…..”and, a tall, glass of milk.” Enjoy….
NOTE: Since I posted this I have a few tips…..Make sure that ALL of your ingredients are at room temperature before mixing the dough up. Also, I did happen to make a “quick” batch in which I let the dough rest for only 12 hours and while they were delicious and devoured, they weren’t near as heavenly as the ones I let “rest” for 48 hours.
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010