While my childhood home was often filled with the sweet aroma of pista burfi, kulfi and sweet rice zarda, baked goods of the traditional American variety were not commonly made at home. For that, we went to the store, and since Publix made such awesome baked goods, the need to make said goods ourselves never really arose.
I can’t really trace when or why I fell in love with baking. I could say its because of how soothing it is, how surprisingly simple it is [once you get the basics down], how good it feels to know what you’re eating [and slightly troubling because the butter! the butter!] but the biggest reason is Waleed. Baking is our thing. I strongly believe learning is best done through play [a belief that is at odds with the traditional school system and makes me eye homeschooling more than ever lately– but that’s for a different post] and I love how baking combines play with so much learning goodness. We count out the eggs, measure out the flour and sugar, he presses the levers, he helps me count down the stir-times and when mixing bread, we make sure to sing it a lullaby before covering it with a towel to sleep. [It must sleep in order to rise, he reasons, and so when the timer goes off, we do go the dark room where it ‘sleeps’ beseeching it to rise, and rise it usually does. Sigh. I. will. miss. this.]
So today we decided to make some chocolate chip cookies to send to nursery school tomorrow. Though I make chicken biryani and eggplant parmesan on the regular, the truth is, for the longest time, chocolate chip cookies intimidated me to pieces until I met this recipe. Then I never looked back. Because I love it so, I thought I’d share it here with some tried and true tips, tips you might already know and are so obvious, you’re staring at me like I’m wearing koala bears as fashion accessories, but for me, they were lifelines so I’ll share in case its helpful to anyone who like me is intimidated by the prospect of baking.
The recipe I use is Best Chocolate Chip Cookies from Allrecipes. One tip that’s helped all baking in the Iqbal household rise exponentially in quality is picking recipes from their site that have at least a thousand good reviews whenever possible. I also read the first ten comments for the chosen recipe as they are ranked by “most helpful” and give seriously awesome tweaking advice. [For non-dessert cooking I tend to use the Andaza-philosophy and pick five different recipes to create one cohesive dish but since baking is a more exact science I try to stick to one]. And now, without further ado:
- 1 cup butter, softened.
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar [I use light brown sugar]
- 2 eggs [no need for room temperature eggs, its apparently a myth and straight from the fridge eggs have not hurt this particular recipe]
- 2 tspn vanilla extract [I prefer almond extract]
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tspn baking soda
- 2 tspn hot water
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips [a touch extra never hurt anyone though!]
- 1 cup chopped walnuts [didn’t use them in this recipe because the school has a no nuts policy]
Step One: Gather your helpers.
Step Two: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To not waste perfectly good heat I used to just stick my baked goods in the oven as the oven was heating up but a good baking friend told me that doing so messes with baking times and baking results, so now I wait. And it works.
Step Two: Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. If using a kitchen aid mixer, use ‘stir speed’ for thirty seconds, and then ‘speed 2’ until smooth about 30-60 seconds.
Step Three: Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add it to the batter along with the salt. Beat until smooth. If using kitchen aid mixer use ‘stir speed’ for most of it with ‘speed 2’ for less than 30 seconds once all ingredients are in.
Step Four: Stir in flour, chocolate chips and nuts. Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time if using a kitchen aid mixer to prevent your kitchen from looking like a charming snowy village resort.
Step Five: Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased pan.
Step Six: Bake for about ten minutes in the preheated oven or until edges are browned. Timing is oven-dependent but remove the cookies when they look like they’re about two minutes from truly done [i.e. they still look a bit gooey and pale] and they will continue to bake once out of the oven on the pan to cookie-perfection. A friend recently shared this with me and I’ve never had burnt-bottom cookies since.
Step Seven: Clean Up!
|warning: may induce hypnotic trance.|
And enjoy! As a side note, I use a kitchen aid mixer, but for the first two years I made them with a metal bowl and a wire whisk. A bit more elbow-grease and messiness all around, but very doable, so if you don’t have one, you can still make this and it will still taste divine!
Hope you enjoy, and if you try it, do share! I’ve shared recipes in the past, if you enjoy this one, and would like me to share more, please let me know. Any tried and true recipes of your own that you might be so kind as to link to would also be much appreciated!