Saturday, March 22, 2008

Don't Just Make These Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have this odd way of dealing with stress.
I cook.
I guess it doesn't come as such an oddity since I'm writing this in a cooking blog, but it always seemed odd to me. I've had friends who have what I would consider the more typical ways of dealing with stress: meditation, yoga, running, martial arts, smoking, drinking etc. Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of yoga and other exercises as stress-management techniques, but there's something a little more cathartic about cooking. It's creative in the literal sense.

You start with piles of stuff, you put them together, sometimes chemistry happens and then it becomes this other stuff. I suppose it's a metaphor for wanting to change the crap of my life into something different, better, less crappy. Since I can't change most of the crap, I cook. I can do that.

My dear friend Kristin sometimes gets exasperated with me because I say I want something, but I don't just go and get it. For example, a few weeks ago, I mentioned to her that I really wanted to make brownies. She assumed that I meant that I was craving brownies and just wanted to eat some. So when I came to her with a failed attempt at whole-grain, flax and fiber-infused brownies that came out more like fudge frosting with a hard crust, her reply was "Why don't you just go get a mix and just have brownies?" A reasonable question that pinpoints the ambiguity in what is meant when I say "I want to make X."

When I want to make cookies, I don't just want to eat a cookie. If I get a craving, I can just go out and buy any generic store-bought cookie and satisfy my craving. However, if I want to make cookies, the product is really only 1/2 of the result, and is, in some ways, secondary to the process. I suppose you could say that the process of making cookies is my small, desperate way of trying to force my will on the world: taking the stuff of the universe and forging it into something by my own impetus.

I digress.

I've had too many chocolate chips. It sometimes makes me philosophical and self-reflective.

So tonight, a stress ball formed in the pit of my psyche, and the creative juices were specific. Tonight the juices said "Make chocolate chip cookies, NOW!" So I complied and adapted a great recipe I found on Dreena's Vegan Recipes. The key here is 'adapted'. It's hard for me to just follow a recipe. I can't just let it be. I have to put my 2 cents into it to satisfy the creative compulsion. So most of the credit for the recipe should go to Dreena. Any crazy talk can be attributed to me.

Grainy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe generally follows Dreena's except for the use of whole wheat pastry flour, leaving out the 1/4 cup of sugar and the addition of wheat germ and flax seed meal.

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup wheat germ
3 tbsp. flax meal (ground flax seeds)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup of vegan chocolate chips (many store brands are actually vegan!)

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat
3. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
4. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
5. Add wet to dry and mix until incorporated.
6. Add in chips (I do this with a spoon so as to not kill my mixer)
7. Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
8. Bake for 11 minutes (9 minutes in my convection toaster oven)
9. Cool in pan for 1 minute then transfer to wire racks to cool.
10. Try to convince red-headed vegan husbands not to eat them all tonight.

You might question the title of today's blog. The point is: recipes are for cravings. If you really need to make cookies, make your own damn cookies.


amy said...

These look great! I will have to try! Can you tell me more about why you use pastry flour?

JC said...

Hey Ames! I like it because I think it behaves a little more like all-purpose flour than most other whole-wheat flours. I'm not sure if there's any science behind that. It's ground a lot finer, which probably explains most of it. Sometimes I just don't want the heavy, chewiness of a real sturdy whole-wheat flour. Plus, the regular whole-wheat flour needs more liquid to get the right consistency and I'm not generally patient enough to figure out how to adapt my recipes...