It’s not like I don’t look. It’s not like I don’t put myself out there. I have – many times. I do – still even now, but probably less because it’s just sort of discouraging to keep trying to find and always coming up empty hearted. I’ve done the online thing. A lot of sites do fairly decent jobs with “search,” providing pictures, even reviews, but you know, it’s still the Internet. I mean, how much can you really trust the excited !!! raves of Chef2Sexy4U in Pennsylvania? And I just can’t imagine myself telling my future kids that I met the recipe for the cookies in their lunchboxes online. Gawd, how embarassing. Like I couldn't just figure it out myself.
I’ve even gone old-fashioned and actually read books because almost everyone I know says that there’s a formula to baking. But it seems, as I have lamented many times before, I guess I just can’t get that formula right. I don’t know quite what it is. Baking takes a lot of work. The sad thing is, I can’t even bake something that requires very little effort like a very simple drop cookie. It's not like I'm trying to bake a g*dd*mn French macaron or something.
I can’t figure out whether it’s me, or if the perfect chocolate chip cookie just doesn’t exist. Is it me? Am I that totally inept in the kitchen that I can’t get it right with butter, flour, sugar and eggs? The cookies always come out too high and pouffy. Or too thin and waif-y. Or too apologetic and meek. Or way too arrogant and into themselves. I can’t seem to find the one that’s just right. *sigh*
Oh gawd, maybe it really is me – I’m just too picky.
No, there’s no such thing as "too picky." You have to know exactly what you want and not settle for anything less. I’ve always told myself, I’d rather never eat a chocolate chip cookie than be stuck eating one that I don’t love.
And yet, knowing that the end result is most likely going to be less than stellar, I keep doing it – I keep baking cookies and disappointing myself. It's like I’m setting myself up for failure. Maybe I’m subconsciously, purposely, doing something wrong with the recipe so that it will turn out badly every time because deep down inside, I believe I don’t deserve the cookie I want. *argh* This whole thing is enough to send me straight into therapy for another six months and make me want to swear off baking and chocolate chip cookies for the rest of my life.
Maybe I should become vegan or something. That would make my life so much easier.
Is it really that hard to find a good recipe for a chocolate chip cookie in this town? I mean really now, it’s not like I’m asking for much. I’m not asking for a dozen, or even a half dozen, to choose from. I just want one. One cookie. I just want to find one decent chocolate chip cookie that’s thin enough to be a cookie, but pouffy enough to not be a cracker, that's crisp on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. That can cry during sad parts, but laugh so hard he cries during the funny parts. That can take me out all done-up and fancy, but still appreciate my hair pulled back in a loose, messy bun, eyeglasses crooked, sweats mismatched and stained with flour and softened butter, looking like I’ve been awake for 36 hours straight, baking for the office potluck, taking pictures, and blogging about all of it. Is that so much to ask? Is it?!?!
Am I really reaching for that unreachable **** (four stars) on Star Search?!?!
Then along comes Alton Brown. My Star Search is over. When I needed to lock myself in the kitchen for an entire 72 hour period with a pantry of Costco proportions to experiment over and over taking copious and painstakingly detailed notes about measurements and outcomes to finally end up with the cookie of my dreams, Alton has done it all for me already. Oh, Alton. He takes the original Toll House recipe, the one that I, you, everyone and their mothers, have followed many times, and explains how to change your baking tactics to come up with the perfect cookie just for you. Alton doesn’t just give me a cookie. He teaches me how to bake, so that just in case my tastes change, I can bake and eat for a lifetime.
Thin and crispy? Not a huge change; just add a pinch more baking soda, use more white sugar to brown sugar, and replace one of the eggs with milk. You like them pouffy? Use softer cake flour, scrap the baking soda altogether for baking powder, use shortening instead of butter, and up the brown to white sugar ratio. Most importantly, don’t rush in to the oven with pouffy cookies. You’ve got to take the time to let the cookie dough chill in the fridge. Chewy? You need tougher bread flour, don’t just soften the butter, melt it, use a lot more brown sugar, and change one of the eggs to a yolk and milk. Alton shows and tells me exactly what I need to do and explains why I need to do them all to find The One that fits me perfectly, and yet...And yet, all I can do is sit here and listen to his science, and watch him with little pink hearts in my eyes, longing not for a thin and crispy nor a pouffy nor a chewy, but for him. Alton is The One. A genius. I love him.
I hope he says yes when I ask him to marry me. :)
Maybe then he can also explain why the nuts and chips in my cookies are always hiding.