Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baker's Dozen Cookies (Chocolate Chunk Variation) by, the Hangry Foodasaurus

For about 4 1/2 years, I worked at a continuing care retirement community as an "activities associate."  Essentially, this means that I planned and led recreational activities for residents of the long term care and assisted living communities.  I quickly learned that nothing boosts morale quite like baking cookies.  

Every Wednesday morning, an elderly volunteer led a cookie-baking group.  By 10:30 am the wonderful scent of cookies baking would be wafting down the hallways--even clear across the building!  It would draw the attention of the residents, staff and visitors.  Only those with the most intense willpower could resist a homemade cookie fresh out of the oven. We had 3-inch thick binder with hundreds of recipes protected by clear plastic sheets to choose from every week.  Everyone had an opportunity to request their favorite cookie to be made in an upcoming session.  "Cookie day" quickly became the highlight of everyones' week and we always made at least 6-10 dozen cookies to share.  

Somehow, that wasn't enough.  When we ran out of cookies--look out!!!  There were some very hangry residents when 3 o'clock tea time rolled around if we didn't serve the expected homemade cookies and had to resort to the dreaded, store-bought varieties.   This cookie shortage was remedied by adding an additional baking day (Sunday morning) as well as an emergency day if needed.  We'd truly created a monster, well, a group of elderly cookie monsters!  

Our cookie volunteer inspired me to attempt my own cookie recipe.  After all the years of practice, at least 2x/wk for 4 1/2 years, I've become adept at whipping up my own cookies without a recipe.  What I have to share with you is my go-to cookie recipe.  I finally decided to write it down after numerous requests from friends and family.  It is so good that we make them at least once a month for dessert.  I hope you like them as much as we do!  Before beginning the disclaimer I will give you is that I have only made these cookies using organic or at the very least natural ingredients whenever possible.  The shortening I use is organic, non-hydrogenated and all-vegetable.  I honestly don't know how they'll turn out without super high-quality stuff.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In one large bowl add:

  • Approximately 1/3 cup of shortening 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

Crumble above ingredients with fingers until moist.
Next, add one egg, beaten and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla-stir into wet mixture.
Then add below (dry) ingredients to the wet mixture using a wooden spoon and hands if needed.  (no need to dirty another bowl if you want you can just add them into the large bowl)

  • 1 cup 50/50 (whole wheat/white) + 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • dash of salt

Lastly, take a block of Callebaut semisweet chocolate and chunk it until you have about one cup.  (The sizes of the pieces will vary, but it doesn't matter)
Mix chocolate chunks into dough.  Form dough balls with two teaspoons or hands and place on one cookie sheet.  We've ended up with anywhere from 9-13 cookies, just depends on your size preference. 
Bake for 8-12 minutes (size dependent) or until center of cookie is slightly firm when you press on it with a finger.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes
Using spatula, slide onto wire racks.  Eat them while they're warm with a glass of milk!
Note: for other fun variations you can use chocolate chips or sundrops.  Have fun!

A recent chocolate chip version, yummy!