Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'd say this has been a tough week, but it's only Monday. I'd say it's been a tough month, but we're hardly halfway through it. I guess it's just more of a tough time in general.

It's hard to know when to walk away from something you've put time and effort into. Be it a job, a relationship or any life event. It's hard to accept the fact that you've given so much energy and time and still things didn't work out as you'd hoped, and now it's time to move on. How do you do that without regret? How do you feel like your time wasn't completely wasted, and that it was all for nothing?

Those are the times when people like to say things like, "You learned something from all this," or "You do the most growing in times of heartache and change." You hear those kinds of things a lot. And you want to believe it. That you've learned your lesson, that you've gained from the experience and become a better person, but underneath it all, you can't help feeling like you've failed at something.

And people will then say, "Follow your heart. Trust your instincts." And I sometimes wonder what that means, or why if I do understand, it's usually the hardest path to take.

If I step back and think about it all in terms of years and not days and hours, I know that, eventually, it won't be about the little things that carry so much weight in this particular moment in time. Eventually, it won't be about what was said and done, it will be about my own response to all of it. What I did with it and where I chose to go from there.

Because if you didn't learn your lesson the first time, it will come back to haunt you, one way or another in the next job you take, in the next person you love. Those issues will be back, and you'll have nothing but the knowledge that until you make the right choice, you haven't gained anything. Even though it's hard, even though it's scary to feel like you've failed at something again, it has to be better to move forward, to not keep putting things off and living your life at a standstill. Because that would be the real failure. To know things need to change, to know what you need to do and not do it. Like living your life in-between.

And maybe it takes a few times around to really learn your lessons. But once it's done, you won't forget. And when it comes around again you can smile with the recognition and the knowledge that you're done with that one, and you'll hopefully meet the next challenge head on, learning, however hard it may be, not to always run from the fear and the pain, but to sometimes accept it as an opportunity, and to be the person in that time that you'd like to remember and appreciate years later. That's the opportunity. To become the person you want to be in that situation. Even when it's hard. Especially then.

It's a hard time. But I have and will have even more perspective. And cookie dough. And I will always share, both the cookies, and also, what I know to be true now.

This is the second installment in the quest to find the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. So far, after much debate, this seems to have beat out the classic recipe for several of my friends. It's not as sweet as the classic, leaving room to really taste and appreciate the two different kinds of chocolate used. Make of that what you will, and make your own decision. I'm reserving mine until the end. Two more recipes to go!

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies
from the Ad Hoc Cookbook
makes about 30 3-inch cookies

2 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
5 ounces 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 ounces 70 to 72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 lb (2 sticks) cold butter cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350. Use a silpat, or line a baking sheet with parchment.

Sift the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl, stir in salt. Put the chips in a fine-mesh strainer and shake to remove any of the chocolate "dust" (small fragments).

In a mixing bowl, beat half the butter with a hand held mixer (or kitchen aid) on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in the chocolate.

Fold the dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. At this point, you can shape the dough into cookies and either refrigerate (well wrapped) for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Each cookie should be about 2 tbsp in size. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan leaving about 2 inches of space in between as the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating the pans halfway through baking.

Cool the cookies on the pans on racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer the cookies just to racks to cook completely.

No comments:

Post a Comment