Saturday, January 19, 2013

Keep Calm and Bake Cookies

Published in The Sanford Herald on November 28, 2012

You’ve just come home from a full day’s work.  It’s drizzly outside, the moon is trying to creep out at a mere 5:15 in the evening, and the very late autumn leaves in your yard mock you through the window, knowing that they have you far outnumbered.  You have two options: embark upon the soggy, deflating disaster that is raking up hundreds of leaves in the rain, feeling a bit of the Grinch creep into your fledgling early-December Christmas spirit.  Or, you can throw on some Nat King Cole and bake these perfect chocolate chip cookies and pluck them straight from the oven and into your mouth, along with a Santa-worthy, frosty glass of milk.  It’s a no brainer, y’all.  Relinquish the rake.  Cherish the chocolate.  Bake yourself some cookies on a regular old Wednesday, because life is short.  No one will ever say, at the end of their days, “I just wish I’d finish raking those leaves.”  But after a taste of these decadently dark chocolate-laced cookies, with a crisp exterior giving way to a comforting, chewy center, punctuated by fragrant nuts, you just might regret less time spent enjoying cookies.  The busy chaos of the holiday season is nearly upon us.  I urge you, overworked citizenry, frazzled families and tired teenagers: Keep Calm.  And Bake Cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes: about 2 dozen cookies

1¼  c all-purpose flour
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1¼ cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup toasted* hazelnuts or pecans, chopped
*spread in even layer on a baking sheet, roast for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
In another bowl, combine the butter and sugars and beat (with an electric mixer, or by hand as your raking-alternative exercise!) until light and fluffy, about five minutes.  Add the vanilla and egg and stir well to combine.  Add in half the flour mixture, stir to combine, then the other half of mixture.  Mix just until combined, then add chocolate chips (those you haven’t already snacked on, that is) and nuts.  Stir together.  Using a ¼ c ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out portions of the dough, roll into a ball (if using tablespoon) and place about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes, or until the cookies are beginning to become golden brown at the edges.  Cool on a wire rack if you have the patience.  If not, get that cold milk ready.

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