Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Butter and Love

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is a Norwegian proverb that says,"Cookies are made with butter and love." Butter and love are often synonymous but here are distinguished simply because butter has a corporeal manifestation that is essential to the perfect biscuit. Like so many of the best inventions and discoveries, chocolate chip cookies were created by accident. 
While Alexander Fleming was busy accidentally stumbling upon Penicillium notatum and Alfred Nobel was fooling around with stable dynamite (an ill-advised pastime), Ruth Graves Wakefield was creating chocolate chip cookies in 1930. It takes some skill to find killer mold growing on staphylococci bacteria and to understand the molecular structure of stabilized nitroglycerine, but to accidentally invent possibly the best cookie that exists is worthy of well a Nobel Prize (take that Alfred!) 
What did children munch on when they returned home from school in 1929 BC (Before Chocolate chip cookies)? Cookies these days are contrived and ostentatious. A wonderful gourmet bakery in Williamsburg, Marlow & Sons sells Fleur de Sel chocolate chip cookies. In an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye observes that, "champagne is just ginger-ale that knows somebody," and while I do love the fleur de sel cookies, there is something (a lot of somethings actually) to be said about simplicity. 
My dad and I have made these cookies together since I was a little squirt and now I find comfort in their consistency and steadfastness. One of my primary reasons for making them is so that I can scrape the sides of the mixing bowl replete with sugar, eggs, walnuts, chocolate and butter. I use the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag which calls for 2 1/4 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt to be mixed together. 
Then add 1 cup of butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup white sugar to the mixer. Gradually add in two eggs and continue to mix. Little by little, add the dry ingredients and finish by pouring in chocolate chips (semi-sweet Ghirardelli) and chopped walnuts. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 375 F. I let the cookies settle on cooling trays until they hardened a bit and then I set them up for their photo shoot. 
They are wholesome, reliable, valiant little marvels that treat and cure sicknesses of the body and soul. Chopin once said, “Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art." So perhaps after my dalliances with macarons and danishes, I shall return to Ruth's accident.

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