Sunday, October 19, 2008

Unintended Benefits: The Making of Junior Mint Chip Cookies

Accidents happen. All the time actually. Dry cleaners and insurance companies are grateful for it and we the people, covered in red wine stains and bruises we don't remember getting, benefit from them more often than we let on. Wouldn't want to tempt fate in the other direction or anything.

But today I'm gonna go for it. Today I'm going to say it out loud (and in text b/c hopefully you can't hear me) that sometimes the most inconvenient unintendeds yield surprisingly positive results. Little snafus in daily life reveal the depth of a friendship, the devotion of a partner, the resilience of an individual or the smarts of a colleague. Even when the serendipity is a little delayed, it's hard not to look back with even just a small smile.

Bringing it back to food, (yes, it does always come back to food) I made a careless error in the kitchen on Friday. I'd been in San Francisco for most of the week (more on THAT amazingness later) and returned home around 2 am Thursday night. Then gotten into the office early to recoup a few other projects. Then tried to avoid napping so I would be ready when all of my guests arrived at 1:30 that night. But even though I was exhausted, no one comes to this house without some kind of edible welcome and this was no different. Jaimeson typically gets a pie (he has an open-minded sweet tooth but I'm already working on Sweet Potato Pie for his next visit), other guests have had lemon bars, crab bites, variant brownies, flatbreads and the classic: Toll House Cookies. Something to warm their welcome.

Mom's family has a long history with the Toll House cookie and the subject usually arises among sisters, nieces and cousins how 1 recipe yields cookies of a different texture and shape for every person that recreates it. My mom's are flat and buttery and bake in 7 minutes tops and are INCREDIBLE straight out of the freezer where she stores her cookie stockpiles. My Nana's baked higher and my cousin Meg has claimed the cookie throne for her branch with her own tweaks. But I had yet to make much of a mark on the long lineage printed on the back of a Nestle bag. Till Friday.

Brandon, my across the street neighbor in Memphis for 20 years, was coming in for the Urbanathalon and bringing his new wife Amy (who he'd dated for the first time in 9th grade and set the standard) along with his teammates. It's been years since we had any real time to catch up so even though I was tired, I was thrilled to have a full house and my neighbors from back home (in case you haven't gathered already) are family.So cookies. It is a standard cookie recipe. The only thing you might notice is that there are disciples of both butter and shortening when it comes to cookie baking and I happen to use both. Butter is rich and shortening is a mystery but together they give me what I want for texture and taste. I use more brown sugar than white and lots of two kinds of chocolate chips (semi-and bitter-sweet) to ensure no one has to avoid the short-chipped cookie on the cooling rack.

Otherwise...nothing too crazy and nothing unpredictable. Unless you're me with 1-2 Palomas in my system, 3 hours of sleep and towels in the dryer. Then they are suddenly unpredictable cookies.
Awesome Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (malleable but cooler than room temp.)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

In a bowl beat shortening and/or butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt; beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with a mixer. With a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour.
Fabulously easy recipe right? Until you grab the peppermint extract, measure it out and pour it in before realizing it's CLEARly not the vanilla extract you'd intended. I smelled it immediately but it was too late- I'd already invested butter, brown sugar and eggs into the batter and I couldn't bring myself to back out.
So I added 1/2 tsp of actual vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp of Almond extract to balance it out. Then I baked a batch and crossed my fingers. The dark chocolate chips with the melty, minty finish? Tastes like Junior Mints buried in the classic Toll House. My guests seemed to dig them too so the next day I finished baking the cookie dough and decided to share my happy accident. I'd share a cookie too but they didn't make it to Sunday morning:)

Junior Mint Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (malleable but cooler than room temp.)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

In a bowl beat shortening and/or butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt; beat until combined. Beat in eggs and extracts until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with a mixer. With a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour.

4 comments:

Cheryl said...

Impressive...you going to bring some into the office (hint, hint). See this is a huge difference between us. I wouldn't know HOW to balance out the mint and all that butter, sugar and the rest would have gone to waste. But I did make some killer banana bread this weekend, mixed by hand. So I'm not a complete loss...

nicoleantoinette said...

Stop giving me more reasons to bake. Seriously.

brookem said...

those sound delicious!!

dolcechic said...

YUM! Thanks for the recipes, can't wait to make them!!!