Sunday, January 29, 2006

I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~Jason Love

I felt the need to bake today. I love to bake. I get completely abosorbed in the whole experience. Time slows down and I move in sync with the ingredients and the mixer.

I wanted to make a pie but decided that I didn't have time. Silly really. There's always time to make pie! But I wanted a little more immediate satisfaction, so I made cookies.

I love getting everything together to bake. I love my kitchen. Everything is arranged logically, for my logic anyway. All the baking ingredients and tools are in their own cabinet, so I move smoothly and methodically through the kitchen. I get the butter out early and give it time to come to room temperature. I get all my ingredients together in their own little bowls so that I'm ready with everything. Baking is precise, and I take my time measuring everything out. I feel like such a chef! As I empty each little (or big) bowl into the Kitchen Aid mixer, I pile up the bowls to wash later. Every movement smooth in my baking world. The rest of the world has gone away, and I really do escape into the act of making these cookies.

Butter. No margarine, no yogurt-based butter-like spread. Real Land-o-Lakes unsalted butter. 2 sticks. You can't bake without real butter. You may have to practice moderation, but you must use real butter. It's the key and the heart of cookies. Well, chocolate chip cookies any way. Sure, you could use shortening. They'll be a little chewier and fluffier, but you won't get that smell of butter melting throughout your cookies as they bake. You won't get the beautiful brown color on your cookies. And you won't get that slather of fat on your lips as you eat your cookies straight out of the oven.

Vanilla. Don't you dare use imitation vanilla extract. Ick! Real Madagascar, bourbon vanilla. It makes a difference and it's worth whatever you pay at the specialty food mart for it.

I made my cookies with a package of Nestle milk chocolate and peanut butter chips. I even followed the recipe on back of the Nestle package. That's unusual for me because I love my Southern Living recipe from years and years ago. But, what the heck. The main difference was 2 sticks of butter instead of 1 1/2. That made a big difference, too. The cookies were thinner and crispier around edges. And the dough! I've made myself sick eating that cookie dough. Oh, and I changed the cooking time. They suggested 375, but that's just too high for my oven. I stayed at my trusted 350 for 10 minutes. Works every time.

Now, what about my diet, you may ask? Two cookies won't kill me or my diet. And I did keep it to 2 cookies. I probably ate another 2 in cookie dough, but I ate only 2 cooked cookies. Moderation is the key to success. I was craving some baking time in my kitchen, and I was craving a dessert. This solved both my problems.

Of course, I'm still thinking about making that pie. The only thing better than the smell of butter baking in cookies in the oven, is the smell of butter and flour mixing then baking as a dough surrounding a mound of apples. Mmmmmmmmm. That's real comfort food.

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