“The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
On my list of books to read this year is Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. No, I have not read it. I have also never seen the film, despite a friend’s dear adoration of All Things Johnny Depp. My favourite English teacher in high school famously had pieces of construction paper with literary quotes on them, posted around the classroom. While his students probably had pinups of the days’ Justin Bieber*, he was trying to get us to consider the art of language and the language of literary arts. I was part of his last grade twelve class, before he retired. He let us pull the quotes down, one by one, on a hot, June day, before our exam, and take them home. I took over a dozen, and I kept them, but also transcribed them into a book. I’m pretty sure that this was one of them.
And, now, here I am. In over my head, and I don’t mind. I ran into a friend last week, on the street, on my way to meet some lovely folks for lunch, here.** She updated me on her things. I updated her on my things. My list was embarrassingly long: Half-marathon training, two part-time jobs (or maybe one full-time job that would require moving), baking for Urban Craft, blogging here and there, Heritage on the Flats, the dog, ultimate frisbee. It doesn’t seem that long when I type it out, of course, but reflecting on it further, those big things (half marathon, baking for business) have many, many small steps, like training, or like the actually baking process, or merchandising. It all seems very big, and broad and boundary-less at the moment. And that is overwhelming. And that is a problem. The possibility of mental collapse is real, lest I reign things in.
When I can’t reign things in, I go back to the basics. I return to the kitchen, most often, and make the things that I love, and that I know well. Like Jacques Torres’ chocolate chip cookie recipe, in all its glory, which I have revisited again and again, whenever I crave chocolate chip cookies. (Whenever other people crave chocolate chip cookies, I make cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. But, I don’t especially like the texture of these. Luckily, other people do.) But, the Jacques Torres’ ones are about as down and dirty as you can get with a chocolate chip cookie. Worth noting is that, although I’ve changed a few things about this recipe, I still rely on the dough chilling (like a villain) in my fridge for at least 24 hours. Sometimes longer (up to three days). Or, you can freeze the cute balls of dough; but, then you run the risk of eating all the dough, as I am wont to do.
The Best Damn Chocolate Chip Cookie. Ever.***
1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature (If using unsalted butter, add another 1 teaspoon kosher salt)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract (Please don’t use artificial vanilla. Please.)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips. (Chipits has started making some; anything that’s around 60% cacao works well)
Cream together the butter and both sugars, until fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed for another two minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. On a lower speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, not more than 30 seconds. Do not overmix the dough, lest you want cookies that have the texture of scones. (Maybe you do?) On the slowest of settings, mix in the chocolate chips until combined.
Scoop 1/4 cup sized mounds of dough and roll them into a ball. Place the dough onto a cutting board, spaced close to one another. One the cutting board is full, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
Once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Transfer the dough to a parchment or Silipat-lined baking sheet, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack, for at least ten minutes. Assuming that you can wait that long.
* I have obliterated from my mind who was popular during that era, and it’s only been ten years. Wait. It’s been ten years. Damn.
** I recommend it. Highly. But, I didn’t take photos. Forgive me. But, Kelly did when she went last month. Go look at those!
*** I stand by that claim.