Chocolate Chip Cookies and Me

I despise online baking recipes. I don’t want to read your life story to get a list of items to put in a slow cooker. So here’s my life story with a recipe hidden for you.

My mom was not an exceptional cook.

My memories of her meals are mainly of wishing she ruined something so we could get McDonald’s. She loved to cook ham steak so long that it turned grey and curled. She would cook skinless chicken breasts directly on a dry grill. They would become charred and tougher than the packaging they were sold in.

My grandmother was a great baker. She spent most of her life trying to live up to her mother’s skills but never was good enough in her eyes. She made some excellent desserts, but by the time I was old enough to realize I found her chocolate chip cookies too dark and crispy. I assume it was because that’s how my grandfather liked them. He was famous for loving the blackened stuffing at Thanksgiving.

After my brother left for college and I felt more mature, I felt empowered to make cookies how I wanted. I had advanced from simply obsessing over cookie dough on the beater. I wanted as much cookie dough as I could handle. I needed the softest cookies I had ever eaten.

I took the bold step of reading the ingredients on the back of the bag of chocolate chips and mixing them together. I soon adjusted how much baking soda and baking powder I put in them. After only a few batches, my mom wanted to know how I made them so soft. To have my mom complement my cooking felt like I had achieved a new level of life.

I didn’t do much baking in college, and when we moved to Colorado, I understood the pain of high-altitude baking. I saw my cookies fall flat and took it upon myself to get precise with my recipe. Weighing ingredients for a few attempts, I ultimately followed a recipe online.

When I returned to sea level, I could return to typical recipes. Although I still don’t mix the dry ingredients together first, I did learn the importance of not overbeating. If you beat the mixture too much, you will have a tough dough that can be too chewy. However, there is a time when you want to beat the mixture as much as possible at the very beginning.

Put your cup of butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. It should probably be 25 seconds on my microwave, but why press three buttons when you can lazily click the big one? Then, add a cup of sugar, brown sugar, and a tablespoon of vanilla. Now, beat for a ridiculous amount of time at the highest speed to prevent the mixture from flinging itself on the ceiling. The wet mix will turn fluffy after two minutes. If it does not look like delicious frosting, keep it running.

Now, cool it on the mixing. You slowly incorporate the two large eggs, one at a time. Just mix enough, so you can’t see the yellow yolks anymore. Next, I add the first of three cups of flour. Before mixing, add half a teaspoon of salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Again, mix for only 5-10 seconds. You want the white to disappear. I don’t mix all three cups of flour simultaneously because my mixer will turn my kitchen into a white winter wonderland. If your mixer can fit all three cups, go for it. Otherwise, I mix in the last two cups, one at a time.

You will be tempted to mix it longer; don’t. Use the mixer to mix two cups of chocolate chips in the final ingredient. You should hand mix these, but again, laziness.

You want to chill the dough for as long as you can keep yourself away from the dough. But baking immediately isn’t the end of the world. Your baking time and temperature are up to personal preference and your oven. 325F for 12 minutes is best as long as your cookies aren’t too large. I use parchment paper and a light-colored pan to avoid burnt grandma cookie bottoms.

If your cookies are still wet in the middle, leave them on the pan after pulling them out of the oven. Otherwise, place them on a cooling rack. I put the paper from the pan onto the cooling rack to avoid broken cookies.

Now, you have delicious chocolate chip cookies and a lifetime of fond memories.

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