They tip-toe into the kitchen stealthily, whispering to one another, trying to open the cabinets without making a sound. They cast furtive glances in my direction while they move the bags and boxes aside, afraid that the rustling will attract my attention. Failing to excavate anything desirable from the pantry they move to the refrigerator and conduct an extremely detailed inventory of its shelves. I can hear sighs of disappointment when their quest ends without the expected result and they start to slowly retreat to their room, crestfallen, but resigned.
I sit patiently and wait for them to reappear armed with the sweetest smiles and hastily put-together speech in an attempt to cajole me to change my schedule and divert some of my time to making them a treat. I pretend that I am annoyed at their most inconvenient request, testing their determination and persuasion skills. I take advantage of the moment to ensure that their room will be picked up and free of clutter before I even think of dragging the hand-held mixer out. I have learned that they will promise everything but the most precious toys and trinkets in exchange for something sweet, and I do not hesitate to negotiate.
I enjoy assuming the role of a drill sergeant to my hapless grunts as I send them on the mission to collect the necessary tools and ingredients. In the meantime, I print the recipe and divide the roles. There is inevitably a dissent as they bicker and argue over the coveted task of cracking the eggs and holding the mixer, but in the end they surrender, knowing it is a very small price to pay for the chance to lick the whisks and bowls clean.
They take turns measuring flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, and vanilla, admonishing one another and competing in accuracy and expertise. They know how to weigh the ingredients on a scale, and they always break the eggs in a ramekin first to check for errant shells. I monitor their progress from afar, allowing them to garner confidence and train their hands to wield the cooking utensils skillfully. I close my eyes if an egg ends on the floor or if a cup of flour mistakenly gets splattered all over the counter. I count in my head as they take minutes for a step that I could accomplish in a second, but I do not intervene.
They take turns shaping rounds of dough with an ice cream scoop and placing them on a cookie sheet. As the bottom of the mixing bowl starts to appear, they start sending imploring looks my way until I relent and let them eat some of the dough raw. While the cookies are dispatched to the oven, they finish licking the bowl and the beaters and without too much fuss place all the used utensils in the sink. They return to their room giggling, their cheeks flushed from the excitement, eyes sparkling with the satisfaction of achievement.
I sigh in relief, luxuriating in the ensuing moments of peace and quiet, as endorphins work their miracle in stopping them from bickering and whining. Every couple of minutes a sentinel would appear in the kitchen inquiring about the progress, seduced by the smell of melting chocolate blending with vanilla and butter, as the cookies slowly spread and turn golden. I get them out of the oven and let them cool for a bit before I carefully place them on baking racks in neat rows. They wait impatiently, having poured milk and laid the place mats on the table, their hands clutching small plates in anticipation of the first cookie.
They inspect them with scrutiny while they cool, trying to select the biggest specimens loaded with the most chocolate chips, their fingers slowly creeping to the chosen ones, afraid that the other one would get to them first. When I say Go! their hands flit to the cookies and snatch them off the rack in a second. For a moment they look into each other’s plates making sure that they ended up with the right cookie before they run to the dining room table and take the first, delicious bite of a still warm, soft cookie.
I return to my interrupted schedule with a smile plastered all over my face, listening to them giggle and describe the subtle undertones of vanilla and the barely perceptible, but complementing bursts of sea salt crystals. They might think they have won this battle, but I know that our little game will bring me hours of contentment.
When they finish, they place their plates and glasses in the sink and skip to their room, stealth completely gone from their steps. They will emerge from time to time to take another look at the cookies and to conspire about the best place to hide them before the Cookie Monster returns home from work and depletes their stash. But for now they are happy, working out their sugar rush with paper dolls and puppet shows, while I bask in the illusion of a quiet idyll.
CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
I cannot remember where I found this recipe, but I have been making these cookies for at least ten years. Husband, AKA Cookie Monster, has managed to convince me that they are the epitome of an all-American perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookie and I remain loyal.
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 stick (4 oz,115 gr) cold butter, cut into small cubes
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 slightly beaten egg
- 7 oz (200gr) chocolate chunks (I prefer dark, good quality chocolate with high percentage of cacao, but this time all I had at hand were semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Sift flour and baking soda, and mix in salt. Using hand held mixer (I am still waiting for a fairy godmother to bring me a ruby red Kitchen Aid stand-up mixer) combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar at low speed. Mix for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg and stir until combined. Slowly add flour mix and stir until it just comes together. Mix in the chocolate chips or chunks using a wooden spoon.
Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F.
Scoop rounds of dough with and ice cream scoop and place them on 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches in between each cookie. Place the cookie sheets on the first and third shelf and bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies) until just barely brown around the edges. Rotate the cookie sheets after 6 minutes.
Let the cookies cool of on the sheets for a couple of minutes before removing them to the cooling racks.
Last year post: Les Miserobbed (and a delightful recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks)