Cookie, You’re Adapted

Yesterday I mentioned that, with a few tweaks of my own, this cookie recipe is about the best basic cookie dough recipe I’ve ever found.

The oatmeal is great because it makes the dough a little chewier without being too…oatmealy, I guess, and I don’t know about you, but unless a cookie contains chocolate, I’m usually not interested (sole exception is a non-chocolate cookie being used as a containment system for ice cream in an ice cream sandwich, top choices being the Lemon/Honey Lavender from Ruby Jewels and the Snickerdoodle/Double Vanilla Bean from Cupcake Royale).

But like I said, I have tweaked the recipe slightly, for reasons of texture and volume. Below is my dough recipe based on this recipe, as well as a few additions you can make noted below:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus an additional ½ cup set aside
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, plus an additional ¼ tsp set aside
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, plus an additional ¼ tsp set aside
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, majorly softened
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) dark chocolate chips

You’ll Do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.*

In one bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp baking powder, salt, and oats.

In another bowl, beat the butter, coconut oil, and sugars until combined. Once these are combined, add the eggs and vanilla and, again, beat until combined. (I know a lot of people use mixers or actual beaters for this, but I just use a sturdy whisk because I’m neither made of money nor do I have a wealthy-but-wrinkled benefactor funding my kitchen appliance dreams).

Combine both bowls until a dough forms. Because of the coconut oil, this dough may seem a little…wet, I guess, and if you like a thinner, crispier cookie, then you can leave it as is. But if you like a thicker, chewier cookie (like I do), then now is the time to combine your set aside quantities of flour, baking soda, and baking powder and add them to the dough, being sure to work it evenly through.

Now add your chocolate chips and any other additions you feel like making.** Make sure they are distributed throughout the dough.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and using a tablespoon, portion out the dough in round balls. As I noted below (asterisk at the preheating the oven part), I prefer to do this with chilled dough. Also, I find that one baking sheet can handle 12-16 cookies, and there’s enough dough left over for a whole batch that you can either make right away, or portion and freeze for later. The frozen dough can go straight into the oven to bake for 15-18 minutes. Which is awesome because hey, effortless cookies at some point in the future!

Place baking sheet on center rack of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. I find that 13-14 minutes is best for a just-golden cookie that cools to a mainly chewy texture and slightly harder bottom. If I’m baking for people with a more discerning palate, sometimes I’ll sprinkle flaky salt on top of the cookies as soon as I take them out of the oven to cool.

* Only preheat your oven if you’re going to bake right away. I mention this because I like to refrigerate my dough for at least an hour before baking, although like half a day is best. It’s easier to shape once it’s chilled and the finished product is more uniform. Once your dough is made, just cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

** Recent cookies in my kitchen have been Chocolate Chip Pecan Cherry (using chopped pecans and dried cherries in whatever quantities I felt like tasting), Chocolate Chip Earl Grey Cocoa Nib (melt the butter and coconut oil in a saucepan containing two bags of good Earl Grey tea, infuse over low heat for about 5 minutes, and add 3/4 cup cocoa nibs into the dough along with the chocolate chips), White Chocolate Chip Lavender (sub dark chocolate for white, infuse 2 tbs dried lavender in the oil and butter), and Chocolate Chip Orange Espresso (add zest of 1 large orange to wet ingredients and 1 tsp of instant espresso powder to dry ingredients).

Obviously my version is open to interpretation, as well, so if you’re interested in learning how different factors affect the taste, texture and appearance of your basic chocolate chip cookie, the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Guides from Handle the Heat are really helpful, as is this examination by the Food Lab at Serious Eats.

Freeze Away

Speaking of away, I should acknowledge that I’ve been there recently. “Away,” I mean. I’ve been working a lot, traveling some, and both are, unfortunately, connected. While I don’t mind working so much, I do have issued with the “away” part, both because I am a nervous flier and because I really don’t like to be away from home very much.

Which I know is tremendously uncool.

Don’t get me wrong – I can enjoy travel. And I do think it’s essential to becoming a more informed, empathetic, well-rounded person. However, I have come to realize that I am happiest when at home, and every trip, no matter how productive or enlightening, is just a way station in the process to get back home again.

This last week’s travel was a work trip. To Reno. And apologies to anyone from Reno who enjoys and knows how to make the most out of their home, but personally, I do not wish to return to a land of cars, strip malls, gas station slot machines, dirt and rocks. Okay, fine, I know all about the diversity of high desert ecology and the wild mustang herds were pretty cool and I’m sure Lake Tahoe has something to offer, but overall? Reno, Nevada is Armpit USA and for once in my life, I was thrilled to board a plane out of there.

So. Sorry, Renoans. Or Renoites. You know what, I don’t really give a shit.

As happy as I was to get home, one of the downsides of this is realizing that there’s nothing left in the fridge after you’ve spent the past week eating in sub-par restaurants in a city where no one knows how to use Yelp properly (or, um, just has horrific taste). Sure, you could eat a bowl of cereal if the milk’s still good and there’s probably enough ingredients for grilled cheese, but when you’ve been away, you want a meal. A real one. Something to scoop and scrape from a bowl, something made with your own hands, something that’s warm and delicious and will hopefully reduce the weird and disgusting bloat you’ve acquired along with dry desert nosebleeds.

Enter the freezer meal. I recently/not-so-recently-because-I’m-a-lazy-writer-these-days wrote a post about cooking freezer meals for friends who just became parents for the first time. The idea was to set them up with ready-made foods that didn’t require a shopping trip plus and hour or more in the kitchen. Just take whatever out of the freezer in the morning, and heat the thawed product for dinner. Easy enough, especially when the only other thing your brain has room to contain is how to care for the newborn who now lives in your house.

Freezer meals are also great for non-parents after long workdays, kitchen creativity droughts, or spates of travel. They’re time-saving, economical, and in some cases, can feel like a great big hug from your Past Self when your Future Self is tired, dehydrated, and just can’t cope with another trip to the grocery store where they will wander, bewildered, through aisles of too much selection and not enough to actually eat.

So what to freeze? Casseroles. Soups. Biscuit, cookie, and scone dough. Sauces. Cuts of meat, packages of vegetables, and little bags of rice and grains to even out all of the fries you’ve been consuming lately. And when you’ve been eating like a garbage person for the past several days, that lovingly preserved and warmed bowl of chicken-parmesan-and-kale meatballs in a lemony broth of carrot, onion, celery and fennel served with a little bit of ditalini or orzo is like a gift for your body and brain.

And then, the next day, when you wake up and realize you’re an adult and can reasonably eat cookies for breakfast if you damn well please, you can preheat your oven to 350 and pop in those frozen balls of dark chocolate, cocoa nib, and earl grey cookies you practically invented (or just adapted from this recipe, which is, with a few tweaks of my own, about the best basic cookie dough recipe I’ve ever found).

These gifts to yourself, this benevolent foresight for when you are hungry, sick or tired, are the most satisfying “life hacks” you can experience. They will give you a reason to come home again, and to tackle the things that may have been neglected while you were away (seriously, boyfriends, is it so hard to do a load of dishes between the beer drinking and Tombstone pizza-eating?).

They may even give you the strength to sit down and write again. So get to freezing.