Because I’m not really much of a baker.
For obvious reasons, I don’t want to yell out, “hey, look at me, I’m so similar to Rachael Ray!” I don’t run a multi-million dollar media empire, I don’t know anything about the Adirondacks, and I hate terms like spoonula. But we do share one thing in common: we don’t bake. Let me modify: I rarely bake, although for specific occasions, like birthdays and the holidays, I’ve been known to break out a bundt pan.
While I love the smells and imperfect nature of cooking, it’s for those very two reasons that I don’t care for baking. I hate the precise measurements. It bothers me that I can’t taste the final product until it comes out of the oven. And most of all, the smell makes me nauseous. Call me crazy. It’s not too bad when it’s in the oven. But it’s that scent of raw flour/eggs/sugar that puts me off. That ice cream craze with all kinds of raw mix-ins like cookie dough and brownie batter? If I see someone eating that stuff it will trigger my gag reflex. I sometimes lie about things on my blog. I’m not lying. I will literally start gagging.
Even more shocking are the people who admit that they’ll eat through an entire log of cookie dough in one sitting. I would rather eat uni. Or eel. Or the two other foods that I can’t stand and I conveniently can’t name. Old age does that to you.
So I don’t like to bake too much.
Lauren is getting into baking. She likes to help, she likes to stir. Thank God for her raw egg allergy because she’s 100% not allowed to eat the batter. Not that she’d want to – she thinks it’s nauseating too. A girl after my own heart.
Lauren loves baking so much that one of her favorite iPad apps is Cookie Doodle. She has so much fun mixing the ingredients, rolling the dough, cutting out the shapes, decorating the cookies with sprinkles and heart-shaped candies.
“What are you up to?” I said the other day when I saw her shaking the iPad up and down (while supposedly reading ABC Mouse). I had clearly busted her in the throws of an unsanctioned Cookie Doodle mission. And I knew that move well – you have to shake the pinch of salt into the bowl.
She admitted that she’d gone into Cookie Doodle, but was so proud of the cookies she’d just made. “Mom, can I show you?” she looked up at me beaming.
I looked down and saw this:
I found out the hard way that Cookie Doodle can access my Photostream. Cookie Doodle developers, are you aware that adults sometimes take racy pictures? Now all of the secrets we’d like to keep hidden from our children – the flaming tequila shots, the French maid’s outfits, all of it is there for their little eyes to see. And make into cookies.
It’s not like this is my usual photo op, but it was the Friday of Gay Pride weekend. There was a buzz in the air, half naked men were everywhere, including right outside my frozen yogurt shop. Which I thought was kind of hilarious. Like 16 Handles was trying to knock off Abercrombie. The only thing that would have made it better is if Paula Deen had been inside, dispensing herself a big cup of vanilla. “I just love vanilla, y’all!”
So, not only had Lauren been making cookies out of him, but she’d also made a puzzle. And had been methodically piecing together the parts of his body.
I’m having a CRISIS here. My 5-year old has just lost her innocence.
Based on the events of this week, I figured that it was time to get back to our roots, to a simpler place, where playthings are stuffed animals and plastic tea sets. Where cookies are made with chocolate chips, not six-pack abs.
So here they are. The Barefoot Contessa’s chocolate chunk cookies, the best recipe I’ve found for homemade cookies. Ina makes them with an ice cream scoop, no meager heaping tablespoon for these bad boys. And I make them even bigger. A bigger scoop. The end up the size of mini pizzas. Her recipe calls for 36 big cookies. I made 16 enormous cookies. I had to redeem myself – and my home, my self-respect – with something pretty spectacular.
So enjoy, I’ve been to hell and back to bring you these, and I hope you think they’re worth it.
PS, just to give you a sense for the size of these cookies, here’s a pic next to my hand. Definitely shareable…or for 1 person who’s having a really bad day.
- 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds chocolate chips (I used Mast Brothers chocolate morsels, like big spherical chips)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream the butter and two sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter with the mixer on low speed, mixing only until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Using a 2-inch-diameter ice cream scoop, drop mounded scoopfuls of the dough on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You are making big cookies, so this might look like an enormous pile of batter, but trust me on this.
- Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly.
- Bake for 20 minutes (to get a crispy texture, fewer minutes if you want a chewier cookie).
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the pan
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.