The Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop in Anchorage bakes terrific artisan breads of all sorts, foccacia with interesting toppings, and delectable treats. Just two blocks from our old house, it provides a cheerful warm welcome on dark Alaska mornings.
But – they closed for a much-deserved break during January! One evening, the new mother rocking her new babe said: “Oh a Fire Island chocolate chip cookie would taste so good right now!”
The next morning I read on the Internet about how to make cookies more like bakery cookies – the ones from Fire Island aren’t so sweet, and they’re puffy and full of chocolate. While it was still dark, I walked to the nearby grocery store.
Bittman’s classic chocolate chip recipe calls for two sticks of softened butter, three-quarters of a cup each of white and brown sugar, two eggs, two cups of all-purpose flour, half-teaspoon of baking soda, half-teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and two cups of chocolate chips. Bittman prefers broken up chocolate to chips, so I bought a Perugian chocolate bar (memories of Italy at 12°).
I reduced the sugars to half-cup of each and added more flour (more flour is said to make a cakier cookie). According to one source, a little touch of cinnamon might be the secret in many bakery cookies – so I added a smidge. And at the last minute (fearing the cookies wouldn’t be sweet enough to please), I splashed maple syrup into the wet ingredients. Then baked at 375° about 10 minutes.
The cookies were tasty and welcomed, more about chocolate than sweetness, and I discovered a newer black cookie sheet produced puffy cookies. A heavier, older silver one made flatter, crisper cookies with the same batter.
Standing in the kitchen creaming stiff butter and sugar and eggs by hand, with the battered and very familiar stainless mixing bowl pressed against me, I stared out the window at the familiar view and wondered how many batches of cookies I had made in that kitchen. Cookies used to be an all-the-time event – the cookie tin perpetually full (or ready to be filled). It’s such a familiar sight to see a son or the good-natured husband come home and head straight to the cookie jar.
I made chocolate chip cookies to welcome the Public Health nurse (my old friend who lives on Bainbridge now) on her visits when our first son was a baby. Our living room contained one wooden rocking chair, green shag carpeting, and board and brick bookshelves. I remember her sitting cross-legged on the floor with a cup of tea.
It was a joy to write my old friend and tell her about the new baby (and making cookies again) in the old house.