I wrote a long, rambling post about my love for cookies today. However, I accidentally deleted most of it and Blogger’s “awesome” auto-save option saved the deleted version before I could do damage control. So I lost it all! I was going to forget about it but once I took two hours to write a really long post about my trip to Canada and my three day struggle with depression and how all of that ended up, and the same deleting, auto-saving trauma happened. And I liked my newer version better in the long run so it was all ok. Now, this? This is just cookies. This isn’t spiritual awakenings on top of a mountaintop in upstate New York. So I’ll try again.
I am a cookie connoisseur, which according to thefreedictionary.com means, “A person of informed and discriminating taste.” And that’s what I am. My earliest memories are about cookies – they have always been my “thing,” my favorite dessert. I would trade in all of the crème brulée, cheesecake and chocolate lava cake in the world for one great batch of cookies. While it’s true that my sometimes palate of a five-year-old allows me to desire rainbow sprinkles and frosting on my cookies, that doesn’t mean I don’t know quality when I taste it. It’s sort of like how I am with savory food. I don’t like some “adult” foods and I also don’t like cheap, processed crap. I don’t like onions or cilantro or sushi, and garlic gives me heartburn. I don’t like blue cheese or goat cheese or feta cheese because they taste like barf. Seriously. They’re barf. However, I can still appreciate many other foods and I like my meals pretty simple and homestyle with high quality ingredients. With cookies, it’s similar. I don’t like some of the fancy “adult” flavors like cherry almond (Or nut anything), lemon poppyseed (WTF?), meringues (is that even legit food), etc. but I also don’t like any cookies that come from a supermarket or in packaging. Yuck. There are a lot of not good cookies in this world, like the ones made with partially hydrogenated oils or palm kernel oils, or the ones that break or crumble when you bite into them. Please…just stop buying them. Let’s rid the world of not good cookies. I just like good quality homemade, bakery and some mail order cookies. Local, pure ingredients. Chocolate chips, peanut butter, white chocolate, toffee, whatever. Throw it at me.
I have only baked cookies (I think) once in my life, nearly 15 years ago. I made them because there was this boy who was cute and blond and it was his birthday and I wanted to impress him. Well, heck – I impressed myself. These cookies were light, fluffy, round, chewy, gooey pieces of perfection. I’m not sure why there was never a repeat performance (with the guy either) but maybe I’ve been afraid it was only beginner’s luck. However, if it was true skill and I combined what I know now about food with what I made then, I would probably achieve cookie divinity.
I have a scar on my right hand. It happened when I was three-years-old from a fall in the parking lot of Unique Aerobics in Rockaway, NJ. My mom used to go there regularly and I would go with her and afterward, she’d buy me a large rainbow sprinkled butter cookie from the bakery next door. To this day, I have not been able to find an exact or close replica to that cookie. Is there still a bakery there on Route 46? Do they still have large rainbow sprinkled butter cookie? If so, I would drive the four hours to get one. They were a bit soft and crumbly and the sprinkles would flatten into the cookie, sort of the way asiago cheese doesn’t necessarily melt but flattens against bread or bagels. One day after aerobics I fell and cut my hand in the parking lot but I didn’t tell my mom. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of me getting that cookie. I remember eating my cookie and later a sandwich at home and staring at the bloody cut on my hand. It wasn’t a bad cut at all but it was never treated because of my love for a cookie. It left a tiny scar and I can still find it today if I look hard enough.
Jersey bakeries are great. They’re really simple – make good, fatty cakes, cupcakes and cookies and watch them fly out of the counters. I took them for granted because it’s so hard to find them outside of Jersey. I guess you’d call it Italian style cookies. You can always find good cookies in Jersey bakeries. You may know the ones I mean – gingerbread men sandwich cookies. Lightly flavored leaf sandwich cookies. Those sandwich butter cookies that have jelly on the inside and chocolate glaze and rainbow sprinkles on one side. I like those. I love where I live partly due to the quality of food here and the emphasis on local, organic ingredients but I just can’t get excited for artisan breads and scones. I want a freaking butter cookie, not a nut-filled piece of bread that’s fatty anyway! If you’re going to go carb, go carb in style.
Then one day, I discovered Greggory’s Pastry Shop in Hadley. When I was pregnant, my friend Holly brought me a cookie from there. It was a butter cookie slathered in white frosting which was covered with yellow rainbow sprinkles and a chocolate smiley face. I ate the whole thing because I was pregnant. Then I wanted to see what else this magical place had. It doesn’t look like much on the outside because it’s in a pretty crappy strip mall, but I had to remember that many great NYC and New Jersey bakeries aren’t flashy on the outside. Greggory’s is everything I loved about New Jersey bakeries..but it’s better. It’s higher quality with better choices. I think I like pretty much everything he does. Chewy chocolate chip cookies. Cappucinno sandwich cookies. Red Velvet sandwich cookies. Chocolate chip sandwich cookies filled and covered with fudge. (I like sandwich cookies). Autumn leaf butter cookies. Heart shaped butter cookies. Mint brownies. Cookie cupcakes and cupcake cookies. Wedding cakes. Seriously, it’s all good. As a special treat, I go there every 3-4 weeks. I’d love to go more but I need it to be special.
Other than Greggory’s, I’m pretty spoiled by my friend Rachel’s cookies. She claims she’s just following recipes but I’ve eaten thousands of recipe cookies in my life and either she finds the best recipes in the world, or she has magic hands when she follows these recipes. Here’s one recipe if you click here. Cassidy is making them one of these nights and since he is another person who makes light, fluffy, chewy, gooey cookies, I simply can’t wait. For my birthday Rachel brought what we call turducken cookies – something like toffee baked into a brownie baked into a cookie. I can’t seem to find the recipe but they were out of control. Keep checking the comments here and maybe I’ll attain it. I also find Confessions of a Serial Baker to have great recipes. It’s a blog written by a friend and it’s a great resource for yumminess. Link here.
Another bit about Cassidy’s cookies. He was once on a baking kick and made so many varieties of chocolate chip cookies, some with peanut butter cups, some with white chocolate chunks and some with everything. I brought them to the Inn I was working at. I remember putting a plateful on the kitchen table and then going into the office to answer the phone. I came out five minutes later and the whole plate was empty. I hadn’t heard anyone talking in the kitchen. Who were those cookie stealing phantoms? We’ll never know. All we know is that the cookies were a big hit. I once bought this book here four our lovely neighbors and actually brought the book to work to photocopy some recipes off of it. Cassidy and our neighbor have both made a bunch of the recipes and I’ve gotten the luxury of sampling them all. It’s a great book because it talks in depth about what makes chocolate chip cookies different from one another. It’s all about the baking times and temperatures and using butter or margarine or Crisco and..if you hang wet laundry outside during a full moon or not. It’s more complex than I imagined. Great read.
Having the right ingredients and a great recipe do help…but I often leave it up to the professionals to make my cookies. (BTW Rachel, you could be a professional) I like Sassy Sweet Treats cookies a whole lot. Magical link here. I’ve had their heart shaped brownies and iced heart cookies at Valentine’s Day and as my sister and mom both said, respectively, “Best cookies (or brownies) I’ve ever had.” Their bestseller, the chocolate chunk cookies, goes by the theory that every bite should contain chocolate. And it does. My next order of business is to order the pumpkin toffee chocolate chunk cookies ASAP. I’ll write more about that here.
Was just feeling like writing about cookies today. It seemed right. I hope it made you sufficiently hungry or, as when I was pregnant, sufficiently deranged with hunger. For cookies. Please feel free to pass along your own favorite cookie sources or blogs. There is a whole world of cookies out there just waiting for me to try.