My mom wasn't a big cook, but the things she did make were contest winners, especially her chocolate chip cookies. It seems there was "extra" of everything in these cookies—extra chocolate chips, butter, macadamia nuts, and deep-rooted sarcasm that ran generations back. Growing up in my family, it was important to be able throw back a joke or a friendly prank. If you couldn't, you wouldn't survive.
When Mom was making the cookies, she would put the dough in a bowl on top of the refrigerator so I couldn't pick at it, which she knew I would do the moment she stepped out of the kitchen. But I still found a way up there: The refrigerator was right next to a counter that gave me a foothold. The obviousness of the situation was apparent to a short young person.
The key to these cookies was that they were underbaked, and letting them "set" was crucial. I remember hearing my mom exclaim with great passion, “Let them set, god damn it!” I guess you can say that was her usual volume: somewhere in between yelling and a loving scold. But whether she was cooking or yelling, she did have good music playing. I sometimes think that was what she liked more then cooking. Her car stereo didn't work, so in the kitchen she could blare her Hall and Oates. Now that I think about it, maybe she wasn't yelling at me or my brother; maybe she was just shouting over the music. Let’s just say I know the lyrics to Hall and Oates songs very well.
Once my friends got a taste of these cookies, Mom got requests to make them by the weekly Ziploc. I would go to school with at least four or five bagfuls a week. Half the time, I didn’t even know the classmates whose names were written on the bags. I guess they called the house without my knowledge.
One day I was at lunch in the school cafeteria with two of my best girlfriends and the boy I had a huge crush on, one of those who would call my house and place his order for cookies. We were talking about Gameboys and going to the mall and other important topics for 13-year-olds, when Paul took a bite of a cookie and suddenly stopped chewing. Sticking out of his mouth was a thick rubber band, baked into the cookie. To this day, I don't know how that rubber band got into one of Mom’s cookies—a little something "extra" that was entirely unanticipated.
But two days later, Paul told me he "just wanted to be friends." Go figure.
Amanda Hernandez was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, a few miles from the ocean (but doesn't go in it). She has written and performed standup comedy for several years. She can be found @mandible10 and at Backstage.
Chewier Chocolate Chips
1 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/8 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets with vegetable shortening.
Cream butter and sugars together in a large bowl.
Beat in egg and vanilla extract until well blended.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually blend into batter.
Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.
Here is where most recipes will tell you to bake for about 10 - 15 minutes, but for these chewier cookies, bake only 8 – 9 minutes.
Cool on racks.
Remember: “Let them set, damn it!”