Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do on a winter Sunday was make chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen with my mom while the Eagles game played on the TV in the den. Probably in honor of that, when I ran into three of the Brady girls coming home from the library on Friday afternoon, I invited them over to make cookies on Sunday. "If it's not too cold," I said.

"What time?" they asked.

"How 'bout around three?" So we agreed.

I guess 14 degrees was warm enough for them, because a little before three I heard a voice calling me from outside. (I never did get my doorbell fixed, and that's fine. It was so loud it would make me jump out of my skin. Now people have to work to get my attention, and I'm not giving myself a giant cortisol hit every time someone comes to visit.)

Three of the Bradys from the all-girl side of the family came. Their cousin Ines wanted to come but her family was going to see her brothers play soccer, so she went, too.

We cleared off the kitchen table and got to work. I softened the butter in the microwave to make it easier to cream with the sugar. That's always the longest part. The girls took turns and I only gave it a few whacks near the end to make sure the butter wasn't streaking and there weren't too many hard specks of brown sugar. The oldest Brady of the bunch was having fun searching them out and pounding them into nothingness with the wooden spoon.

"The last time I made chocolate chip cookies was four years ago," she said. They were at their cousin's house in Michigan. She must have doubled or even tripled the recipe, because they made more than a hundred cookies. "My cousin got mad because everybody was coming and taking them."

They broke the eggs over the bowl and picked out a couple of small shell pieces that fell in. After mixing in the eggs and vanilla, we started adding the flour. They were surprised at how stiff the dough gets, but they got all the flour in.

I think they had the most fun forming the cookies. I made one rounded-teaspoon size cookie as an example for them to match and then went to talk to my roommate the Good Elf while they made more. When the second batch went in the oven, one of them got the bright idea to round the lumps of dough into balls with her hands, then put it back on the cookie sheet. Those cookies came out looking almost store-bought. We all agreed making the dough from scratch was more fun than using the pre-made dough, although one of them thought the chocolate chips melt better that way because you leave the dough in longer. (She had a point.)

My oven's timer counts the seconds for the last minute, so they had fun counting down the last ten seconds of each batch. "! Cookies!" One of them kept saying "Blast off!" instead.

"It's like New Year's," said the youngest.

Between batches we talked about summer and swimming and going to Great America. They thought we should make more cookies and sell them as a fundraiser to buy tickets for a Great America trip next summer. I wasn't sure we'd make enough money selling cookies, but apparently you can get discounted tickets for so many Coke purchases or something like that. I made no promises.

The oldest told me her mom wants to learn how to make cheesecake. I found a recipe on my shelf of cookbooks and wrote it out for her to take home, but I've never actually made it myself. Maybe we'll have to test out the recipe over Presidents' Day weekend.

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