We’re about to find out. See, I had this idea of buying cookie tins and making a whole assortment of holiday cookies to bring to friends around L.A. a la Melissa Clark’s latest NYT piece. But then I thought: it’s Covid, am I really going to drive all over L.A. dropping off cookies when there’s a stay-at-home order? Plus: if I’m going to make a full assortment of cookies, isn’t that a lot of butter and a lot of time and, honestly, wouldn’t I be better served making the cookies for myself and taking pictures and telling YOU about them? I’m a terrible person; good thing people don’t read this part anyway.
I own a dangerous book called By The Book. It’s a collection of the By The Book column from the New York Times; a column where artists, musicians, and writers talk about their favorite books and what’s currently on their nightstand. It’s dangerous because any time someone sings the praises of a book, I immediately want to own it. (See: the stacks of books currently on my desk, coffee table, and nightstand.)
I don’t know about you, but my head started to crack a bit like an egg last night thirty minutes into the debate. And instead of throwing that egg into a skillet by continuing to watch (“this is your brain on Trump”), I decided to turn off the TV and crack a few eggs for real.
Making cookies is self-care in 2020. True, cookies are self-care at most times, but that’s especially true now. These cookies — chunky oatmeal raisins, maybe the best I’ve ever made — are from Arezou Appel, the founder and baker of Zooies Cookies (the recipe was published this week in The LA Times), a cookie shop in a gas station in Cheviot Hills.
The internet can be an overwhelming place when it comes to finding a chocolate chip cookie recipe. You type “chocolate chip cookie” into a Google search and suddenly you’re bombarded with thousands of recipes featuring various techniques, many of which ask more of you than you’re willing to give right now. There are recipes that have you age the dough for twenty-four hours, there are recipes that have you melt the butter, others that have you bring it to room temperature (which, in this L.A. heat, is basically the same thing).
Here’s my most controversial opinion: almost all chocolate chip cookie recipes are the same — with varying amounts of brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, salt, chocolate — and you don’t need the best one or the latest one; you just need a very good one. Look no further.
I know I’m late to the party with this one (the party being the “put tahini into your desserts” party) but I’ve also not been blogging for two years, so cut me some slack!
The truth is, during my blogging hiatus, I was much more likely to make recipes that I’d already made before than to try new ones. That was part of the relief of not blogging: there wasn’t this sense of, “I’ve got to feed the beast.” (Sorry for calling you a beast.) But now that I’m back in the saddle, I find myself thinking of you, my beautiful beast; and so when I had friends coming over for dinner the other night, I decided not to make my usual chocolate chip cookies. I decided to make the kind with tahini.
Taking liberties with a recipe is one thing, taking liberties with a recipe name is another. When Dorie Greenspan first published the recipe for Pierre Hermé’s famous double chocolate cookies, they were called “Korova Cookies” for the restaurant where they were served in Paris. Then, one day, Dorie’s neighbor told her that the cookies were good enough to bring about world peace, so she renamed them World Peace Cookies and that went a bit viral. For some strange reason, though, these cookies never made an appearance in my kitchen. Maybe it’s because, in my small-mindedness, I thought: “How good could chocolate chocolate cookies be?” Then, last week, I made them and they were so good, so instantly adored, I knew I had to give them an even more appropriate name; the kind of name that could make a viral cookie go even more viral. And so Shirtless Ryan Gosling Cookies were born.
Cookies, cookies everywhere and not a chocolate chip cookie in sight. Look, let’s be honest about Christmas cookies: they’re fun to look at but are they really fun to eat? Most of them taste like cardboard with over-sweetened frosting slathered on. While everyone tries to reproduce the cover of Bon Appetit (which is, admittedly, pretty stunning), why don’t you do what I’d do and make a batch of these comforting, hot from the oven chocolate chip cookies from one of America’s greatest bakers? As someone who makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies (Martha’s, whole wheat, Eric Wolitzky’s, ones with cranberries and oats) these may be the most wholesome and comforting I’ve yet made, partially because they’re packed with walnuts.
This is a week of recipes where the finished dish doesn’t look good, but tastes really good, so I lead with a picture of something else. Yesterday it was Kachin Chicken Curry with a picture of a mortar and pestle, today it’s No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from Baked Explorations with an image of peanut butter in a measuring cup. You’ll understand why when we get to the end.