Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cookies

I really like baking cookies.



I mean, I really like baking almost anything, but recently I seem to have developed quite an affinity for crafting and creating three-inch discs of dough and sweet morsels. I love knowing exactly how the butter should feel when I squeeze it gently within its wax paper wrapping to see if it's soft enough for creaming. I love the soft whir of sugar crystals scraping against the metal bowl as the intoxicating aroma of butter, sugar, and vanilla wafts up from within my big pink mixer. I love standing with my hips leaning against the counter, dozens of little bags filled with sweet morsels of all kinds jumbled in the cupboard above my head as I judiciously siphon out little amounts of whatever ingredient strikes my fancy. Coconut, toffee, oats, bittersweet chocolate chips, dried cranberries... All fodder for my gastronomic imagination.

I love laying out my baking sheets and slowly, repetitively, methodically dropping equal amounts of the sweet and salty dough into little 3 x 4 charts before placing them within the confines of my baby oven. I love knowing how the cookies are done, not by a loud beep that echoes through my kitchen when the timer sounds, but by the smell that hits my nose just as the outer edges begin to golden. When they emerge after their bath of dry heat, the transformation never ceases to be magical. They've arrived!



I love the steady rhythm of transferring cooling morsels from the sheet still hot from the oven to the cooling racks set on the windowsill. Cookie sheet, window sill, cookie sheet, window sill, cookie sheet, window sill... Back and forth and back again. When finally all the newly formed confections are resting on their wiry bed, I love sitting in my living room and seeing the rows and rows of them out of the corner of my eye as I watch TV or clean or check my e-mail. I have accomplished something good. And sweet.

My best friend says baking encompasses both sides of my personality-- my need for both control and creativity. Baking isn't like cooking where you can just throw a bunch of everything in all flim flam and it'll generally come out all right; there are rules, guidelines, science and chemistry laws that must be obeyed in order for a cookie to be a cookie and not a cake or a cracker or a loaf of bread. But within these laws, a whole palatte of flavors and textures can be chosen and used at will. Sure I have to include butter and sugar and eggs and vanilla and flour and baking soda and baking powder and salt... But what if I feel like throwing in dried cranberries instead of raisins for my oatmeal cookies? And what if I think white chocolate chips would make a lovely addition? And you know, after tasting, I think a little cinnamon might be nice? With just a shake or two of pumpkin pie spice to round it out perfectly... I can do all that and more because these are my cookies, and after covering all the ground rules and checking all the required boxes, it's time to play!

Last night I made cookies at midnight. Because I wanted to. And because I love it!

But now my problem becomes... What to do with three dozen cookies?

1 comment:

Girl Friday said...

Two ideas came to mind:

(1) eat them.

(2) randomly hand out to people (on the street, in your building, etc.)

Either choice...you win! :)