Recently, I’ve started to notice some drawbacks to all my baking; and no, I don’t mean the going out to buy bigger pants kind of drawback. I’m starting to get the feeling that all of my baking is getting a little intimidating. You see, I’m hearing a lot of this lately:“I didn’t know what to bring, you bake so well…”
Oh no! I’m sorry! Please don’t feel like that!
I bake like this because I love it, because I find it challenging and immensely satisfying. You might like scrapbooking, and I’ll be jealous of how thoughtfully all your favorite family photos are arranged when mine are scattered in a box in the closet or buried on my hard drive. Or maybe you compete in triathlons, and I’ll be watching in awe and then go for a 3 mile jog around the park. We all are intimidated by something. My personal list includes:
- Fashionable looking women with blow-outs, high heels, and makeup. I’m too cheap to pay someone to blow my curls straight, too clumsy to walk in high heels, and I’ve had a strong tendency to clash since childhood. My mother rarely wore makeup, I never learned how.
- Job interviews. I’m not experienced enough, not smart enough, not articulate enough, etc.
- Professional bakers. I love you! I want to bake like you! Please teach me how! Oh wait…I’m just an overly zealous, amateur home-baker; I’m probably not worth your time.
In the end, I think things end up intimidating because of our own incorrect assumptions. Here are some reasons you shouldn’t be intimidated to bake when I’m around:
- My favorite Christmas cookie are those peanut butter ones with the Hershey kiss on top. I don’t even make them; but if you do, I will want to take a baggie home.
- Don’t bake? No problem. I’d choose ice cream over pie any day. Seriously. I make pie for everyone else and then eat ice cream.
- I eat cookies from grocery store bakeries. You know those chewy, sugary ones with M&Ms that taste faintly (or not so faintly) like preservatives and corn syrup? Yea, those kind. I know. It’s embarrassing. I almost deleted this.
So you see, when it comes to dessert and sugar, I’m not as picky or discriminating as you may have thought. Myth busted. So bake away and remember to share with me!
Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from the Joy of Cooking) Chocolate chip cookies are probably one of the least intimidating recipes to most people. They are almost universally liked and an iconic American treat. This recipe is not hard; it does not involve an overnight chill, hard to find ingredients, or excessive amounts of time. Growing up, my dad did the baking: chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip banana bread, and dozes of Spritz at Christmas. I owe my love of baking to Dad. This is his recipe, and I hope he doesn’t mind that I’m sharing it now. Make these, share these, your friends will love these. Mr. R does not bake, but Mr. R baked these for work once and got the highest of compliments. You can bake these too! 2 1/4 Cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 Cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco) 1 Cup white sugar 1 Cup packed brown sugar 2 eggs 3/4 Cup semisweet chocolate chips 3/4 Cup butterscotch chips
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream the Crisco* with the sugars until fluffy. Add both eggs and the vanilla and beat until incorporated and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix the flour in in two batches on low speed. Mix in the chips by hand.
Using two spoons or a cookie scoop, drop the dough (bigger than a walnut but smaller than a golf ball) onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies about 8-12 minutes until golden around the edges but still slightly puffy and paler in the middle. They should look almost a tad underbaked in the middle when you take them out, but they will continue cooking and set up just fine. Let cookies cool a minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
*I’m sorry, but you really must use Crisco. Butter will absolutely not give you the same cookie. Crisco is a pain to clean up, use lots of soap. Use more soap than you think you need, and then use some more. Do not put anything with gobs of Crisco stuck to it in the dishwasher unless you want a thin film of Crisco coating all your dishes.