Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cookie Baking Season Begins; No License Required.

With the holiday season in full swing, it's that time of year for cookie baking in the Cokenour home.  Making up to, at least, 16 dozen, they’re usually placed on holiday themed plates, wrapped in colored plastic wrap and distributed out for pure enjoyment.  Surprisingly, some folks voice negative opinions on this little holiday tradition of mine, “Why are you wasting time, money and groceries?  They don’t appreciate you or your cookies!”  That may well be, but I do it mainly to follow the true meaning of the holiday spirit, and that is what matters most.  It’s the giving and seeing the smiles on faces that matters; the not caring if there is a price tag attached, or which big name store it all came from.  Many folks understand where I’m coming from on this, we grew up during the age of “giving, sharing, togetherness, homemade is from the heart”.

Now to flip the coin from happiness to sadness, since the holiday season is also known as the saddest time for many.  Death and grieving for the loss of loved ones, loneliness, broken and abusive home lives; it all exists, not just in large cities, but in the smallest of burbs.  The suicide rate increases as a person sees no way out of his/her situation.  Sadness is emotional pain associated with, or characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, helplessness and sorrow. Clinical Depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. Here are the typical definitions for sadness and depression; while sadness can grow into depression, it is usually more easily dealt with.  Currently I'm in an extremely sad place, but my cooking, photography and writing help ease the pain...I can deal.  For others though, the pain of their sadness is so intense, they need a professional; no matter what, help them get the help they need.  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: or call 1-800-273-8255.

Swinging back to a lighter note, when it comes to females mostly, there is the saying, "Chocolate cures everything" which is basically true.  I'm not going to get scientific here, but the gist of it is that chocolate stimulates the endocrine gland to emit hormones that make one happy.  It won't cure depression, but when it comes to stress and sadness, it helps to calm you down enough for a better assessment of a personal situation.  Another thing you can do is be active, even if it is the simplest of tasks, or even trying out a new recipe; it gets your mind off of your sadness, even if just for a little while.   What better way to deal with sadness then to combine a chocolate chip cookie recipe with baking in the kitchen?  You're up, moving about, concentrating on a task and you'll end up with a delicious snack that will lead you to your happy place.

This recipe will give you about 2 and 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies depending on how large you make them.  I usually make balls of dough about 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter and get about 2 and 1/2 dozen; less cookies, but larger cookies...less does equal more!  The cookies are soft and chewy; if not kept in an airtight container, they will get dry and crumble easily.  I also use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips; much larger than those morsels, more chocolate flavor and when they're all melty, you feel no pain, just pleasure.  The recipe is similar to the original Toll House recipe, but you all know I simply cannot do “as is”.  Bake up a little happiness today!

Chocolate (Ghirardelli) Chip Cookies


2 and 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter; softened, but not melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 and 1/2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips


Preheat oven to 350F; I recommend using AirBake baking sheets instead of regular nonstick, or ones that need to be sprayed.  Whether it is cookies or biscuits, no sticking and cleanup is with a damp, clean cloth.

Whisk the flour and baking soda into a large bowl, set aside.  In another large bowl, cream together the butter, white and brown sugars until smooth.  Add the salt, vanilla extract and eggs; on medium speed for one minute.  Continue to beat while gradually adding the flour mixture; scrape the sides occasionally.  When well combined, stir the chips in with a heavy duty spoon being careful not to break them.

Create balls of dough from 1 inch to 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter; place on the baking sheets 2 inches apart.  Bake cookies for about 10 minutes; edges will be browned, but still slightly soft in the center.  Let the cookies rest for about 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack for complete cooling.  When completely cooled, place in an airtight container.

Makes 2 and 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies.

Mary Cokenour

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