When you realize you’ve spent a good number of your
day’s week’s calories testing out various combinations of chocolate and nuts, and then, fruit (fresh and dried), in different confections, you stop saying how many of the twelve cookies you ate and start saying things like this: “I’ve had roughly 1/4 cup flour, more than a couple pats of butter, almost one egg and at least a pinch of cinnamon… with chocolate chips, blueberries and a handful of dried currants.” That is to say: it’s been a heavy week of eating, friends.
It started with a pretty bunch of radishes that I saw at the farmer’s market, and ended with something so far from a radish the only thing the two have in common is a similar affinity for melted butter; I’m talking about the cookies now.
They’re good cookies — melty, chewy cookies, with that slight crispness — the stuff of easy comfort after a long day of listening to everyone but yourself.
My favorite part of making them, besides the noisy doorstep of scents, besides the sharing, is the vigorous stirring of the melted butter and the sugar, after you’ve added an egg. The whole batter takes on a stiffer structure, it gets glassy and tougher once you’ve mightily whisked in the yolk, the white, and then it can take on the flour and oats and sweet chunks of chocolate. It feels almost like the tempering an egg takes when making a curd or custard, and even though perhaps slightly less vigor is called for here, we ought to approach each challenge with the same ferocity, right?
So I stirred, with a taut, brisk wrist, as though I was tempering egg for custard, because it’s not something you often get to do with the ever-so-lightly, folding in baking. To ‘temper’ is a funny thing, because on the one hand it can mean, to sort of mitigate, to soften one’s expectations of how things will turn out. But then, in a better world, it means, to make stronger; an iron sword ought to be tempered by fire, so that when wielded by the courageous, it can cut through even the most frightening and consuming of obstacles. And so, I stirred as hard as I could, like I was swimming upstream, like I was paddling into the belly of the beast. Because in a better world, I’ve got to temper myself in the second way of the word.
Tempered cookie-eating, could prove however, a vaguely more futile endeavour.
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.
Notes: Set aside a few hours to let these sit unattended so the butter can take up all the great flavors you’ve added, and the flour can absorb some of the moisture. You can even put them in the fridge to let them hang out while you’re away doing whatever else needs to get done; just be sure to let them warm up a bit so they’re easier to scoop onto the cookie sheets when you’re ready to bake.
- 2 cups old-fashioned (slow cooking) oats
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks, or coursely chopped chocolate bar
- 1 cups chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
In a medium-sized bowl, sprinkle water over oats. Stir gently to mix and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon and baking soda.
Cut butter into 1/2″ chunks, and melt all but two chunks in a large saucepan, allow butter to brown, becoming fragrant and nutty, and then remove from heat to add in remaining chunks, allowing to cool slightly. Stir in sugars, salt and vanilla, and then vigorously stir in egg, until mixture is thick and glassy. Pour sugar-butter mixture into a large bowl and fold in flour mixture gently. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chunks along with oats.
Allow cookie dough to sit for at least one to two hours and preferably chilled in the refrigerator over night.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place rack in upper third of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 F. Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop small round dollops of dough onto lined cookie sheets, leaving 2-3 inches between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cookies to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.