It's been a wild week here in Nacogdoches: we were in the direct path of hurricane Ike.
I am counting every blessing that we are ok, and that it was not as bad as it could have been. We had plenty of limbs and logs strewn everywhere, and 4 1/2 days without power, but nothing worse. Others in town were less fortunate: some neighbors around the corner no longer have a house due to giant oak trees being uprooted by the winds and crashing through the ceiling; others are still without power and water; and many others are in shelters across town, having fled Houston, Galveston, and Beaumont, with no word yet at all as to whether they have homes to return to.
All of this has left me grateful for my safety, yet decidedly unnerved. And while it seems on one hand callous to think about food and baking when others are suffering so much, I found that baking cookies for one of the shelters housing evacuees was one of the things I could wrap my brain around today; so that's what I did.
You'll have to forgive me for abandoning all thoughts of calories and fat content; this is one of those times when such considerations must be put aside. My focus today was to make as many cookies as I could--with a two-year-old underfoot all the while--that would be as comforting and reassuring as home.
I knew the very cookie I would bake: a chocolate chip cookie based on one I first found in a church cookbook years back.
I do variations on the original (different kinds of chips, occasionally dried fruit or coconut), but today was about pleasing others, and in my humble experience, nothing cheers as much as an old fashioned chocolate chip cookie.
I have tried and made countless chocolate cookies over the years, but this is hands down the very best. I love these cookies for their flavor and texture, but also because the dough comes together in about 4-5 minutes, no electric mixers required. The key is using melted butter--which mixes in a few short strokes of the spoon--instead of creaming cold or room temperature butter.
Melted butter yields perfect chocolate chips cookies because, unlike cold or even room temperature butter, it is warm and liquid, meaning it will dissolve and melt the sugar in the cookie in a short mixing time and short baking time (i.e., the time it takes to bake a cookie). The result? A perfect chocolate chips cookie with a winning texture and flavor.
The recipe is so easy, I was able to make 5 complete batches in under three hours. I left out a few for Nick, then wrapped and delivered the warm cookies, pronto.
Please say a prayer, pass along some good karma, or however you send your good wishes, to the people who are suffering here in Texas. They are brave, but they need your concern and help.
And keep in mind that when a crisis comes along, this recipe works small wonders.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (a.k.a. Crisis Cookies)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 stick (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted & still warm
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 12-ounce bag (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir the melted butter, sugar and brown sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart; flatten slightly with your palm.
Bake 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Cool completely. Makes 1 and 1/2 dozen large cookies.
Nutrition Notes: The coalescence of butter, brown sugar, vanilla and chocolate significantly contribute to a heightened sense of happiness and mental well-being, when eaten in moderation (as determined by the crisis at hand).