Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

In 2011, I started  ranking my daily satisfaction quotient. On my morning commute, top down on the convertible, wind in my hair, sun shining on my face, I considered my level of happiness each morning. My ranking was a consistently favorable 7 to 8 – even on a Monday. Life was good.

Fast forward a handful of years, add a revolving door of various managers, include a load of new policies designed to thwart me at every turn, suppress my ability to contribute – and my average daily ranking crept down to a paltry 4.5. For three years, life sucked.

This Friday, I noticed that my ranking catapulted back to an 8… perhaps even an 8.5, and not because of the impending 3 days weekend. How did I do it? How did I turn things around? I quit my job. After 15 years, I joyfully submitted my resignation. One indignity too many, straw and camel’s back stuff, convinced me that it was time.

And, as it’s supposed to happen when one takes a huge risk, Providence prevailed. Within a few weeks, a new job posted, within the same company, but with a group that I respect and adore– and I got the job! I feel good.  C’mon 2017, my groove is coming back.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

  • 175 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 115 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 110 grams light brown sugar
  • 75 grams sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 200 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 115 grams, walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, soda and salt. Beat together butter, sugars and vanilla. Add egg and beat well. Stir in flour mixture until incorporated. Stir in chocolate and nuts.
  2. Cover dough and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Drop cookie dough by tablespoons about 1” apart. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets midway through baking. If you prefer a soft cookie, scale back on time as needed.

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Body Language

Married life can be challenging – but dating life can be just as tricky.

I recognize this evening as a non-starter before I even order my Sauvignon Blanc. I realize before my ass has warmed the bar stool. There’s no chemistry – no spice. I’m more interested in the cute, tattooed bartender (alas, wedding ring) than the man beside me. Before my first sip of wine, my date has managed to “casually touch” my thigh and arm a half-dozen times during conversation. I don’t need my body language decoder ring – I get it; you’re interested, now back off. Our tactile evening continues with me receiving a demo of his co-worker’s hugging techniques followed by an unsolicited and awkward one-handed back rub. He has unquestionably grabbed or stroked me at least three dozen times. Body language hint – if your date is slowly sliding away to regain her personal space, stop with the hands! Ten minutes into the conversation, he declares that he wants to “claim” me as his own and our next date should be in my neighborhood. Next date?! I’m squirming through this one – and I’m beginning to believe you’re stalker material as well. Okay…polite conversation, polite conversation; I can do this; just finish my wine and leave – fast. I’m out the door in 40 minutes flat – but he insists on walking me to my car. Please don’t try to hug, kiss, or molest me at my vehicle. Not surprisingly, I receive his text on the drive home: “Good night Sweetheart.” Sweetheart?! Disturbing.

Reaching the safety of home, I’m amazed I don’t bee-line for the kitchen and bake up a batch of David Lebovitz’s chocolate chip cookies. This type of dating debacle deserves an edible pacifier – a dozen warm, gooey cookies or even a chocolate cake with thick chocolate frosting – devoured in one sitting. I content myself with a 6” turkey sub from Subway. Probably the smarter choice, since the holidays have made their mark on my bathroom scale.

Cookie Plate

Cookie Assortment

Gisslen’s Professional Baking recipe was the winner, with some tweaking, of course – more butter, more sugar and ¼ of the sugar switched to brown sugar. Two weeks after the initial batch, I’ve created six different cookie recipes using the same base – each passed my taste test and I’ve gained two pounds to prove it. I also shared them with the masses – coworkers and neighbors. Starting from the top of the plate:

  • Cardamom Caramel Triangles (one of my favorites, but the cardamom scares some people)
  • Almond crescents (very similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies)
  • Hungarian Apricot Disks (easy and popular) – needed a drizzle of glaze
  • Key Lime drops (also easy, but not so popular) – may try lemon next time
  • Cherry Streusel Bars (very popular with the neighbors, but the last cookies on the plate in the office)
  • Walnut Derby Cups – in center (delish, but labor intensive)

I’ve made each of these recipes at least twice, plus three additional recipes that didn’t make the cut (Coriander, Curry  & Coconut anyone?), plus more versions of butter cookie base than I can remember. I submitted the photo and descriptions to the steakhouse and suggested we a schedule a tasting.  This was the answer:

“looks delicious.. how about a choc chip??”

Really, that easy? Chocolate chip?! Ugh – back to the drawing board.