There is something therapeutic about emersing myself in a baking project, especially on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I turn on a little “feel good” music and proceed to destroy my kitchen in a tornado of flour and vanilla extract. My husband/taste tester/neat freak stays away until the final products have cooled and every surface of the kitchen has been wiped down and no evidence of baking chaos remains. 90% of the time, we end up eating a little of whatever it is I decide to make and then I’ll take the rest to work…he has a much higher self-control mechanism than I do, and I’ll end up killing the remaining 22 cookies over the rest of the week. Better to share than to be tempted all week.
On today’s menu: chocolate chunk walnut cookies and banana bread. I’ve been out of flour for a couple weeks, so when we went to the grocery store this morning, B voiced a craving for cookies and I’d thinking about making banana bread for a little while. Labor Day festivities were not on the agenda (because it’s raining and because we just didn’t make plans) so I had both time and motivation to make all the things!
Now, I’m no pastry chef, but I fancy myself a pretty decent dessert maker. Here are some pictures of things that I made that were definitely Nailed It! moments rather than Pinterest Fails:
Did both of those projects take me HOURS? Yes, yes they did. But I am darn proud of the fact that they looked and, more importantly, tasted awesome. Also, big thanks to Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7s so letting my live my best photographer life.
Anyway, long story short: I like to bake and I do it a lot. I’d quit my job and just bake stuff for people if I had any business sense/courage to do something like that.
I’m also a person who wonders. I wonder about all sorts of things and sometimes I even go so far as to investigate further. Chalk it up to being a teacher who likes learning for the sake of learning. Whatever. Today, as I was making the first batch of my famous chocolate chunk walnut cookies, I was a little concerned about the consistency of the dough. I follow a written recipe every time, so I wasn’t winging it….yet my dough was decidedly softer than I thought it should have been. I suspect I over mixed my wet ingredients, but that is just a hypothesis. When the batch was done cooking, the cookies had, unsurprisingly, spread quite a bit and fused together in quite a few places. Pro Tip: square cookies taste just as good as round ones. But as a perfectionist (as in the final result, not necessarily in the tidiness or precision measuring categories), it bothered me that my cookies were ugly. I wondered if I stuck the rest of the dough in the refrigerator for a while, if that would help my cookie uniformity and aesthetics.
So I did just that and then worked on the banana bread. Banana bread isn’t hard to make, but the loaf did require 45 minutes of cooking time, so my cookie dough got a good chill on for about an hour. When it came time to scoop it onto the cookie tray, it was MUCH firmer than the first batch, which made scooping it a lot less messy, too. When the bread came out, batch 2 went in for 15 minutes.
The result was super interesting! Batch #2 still spread nicely into thin cookies, but they were SIGNIFICANTLY more uniform and round, as well as a little darker in color. Here is a side-by-side comparison of both batches, Batch 1 on the left and Batch 2 on the right:
So interesting. They taste pretty much the same, with Batch 2 being a little thicker/chunkier. I actually like the color of the cookie on the left better. More testing will be required in the future to see if I can get the color of Batch 1 with the shape of Batch 2.
Husband gave the stamp of approval on both, so a definitely success.
Banana bread came out great, too, in case you were wondering:
Chocolate Chunk Walnut Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
10 oz dark chocolate chunks
1/4 cup walnut pieces (add more for extra chunky cookies)
– Preheat oven to 350 F
– Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
– In large bowl or stand mixer, mix together butter and both sugars on medium-low until fluffy.
– Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix on low until well combined
– In another large bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt). Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture, continue to mix until just combined.
– Fold in chocolate chunks and walnut pieces.
– Scoop dough (about 1.5 Tbsp or 1 ice cream scoop) and drop on baking sheet. Gently flatten dough with fingers.
– Bake for 15 minutes.
– Remove from oven and allow to sit for approximately 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.