I simply don’t know where to begin. It’s been thirty-years of life here on this earth, breathing in this air , writing down my thoughts in books with tattered and torn edges. Thinking about ways to make life one big coffee break on a patio in a foreign country, or maybe just in my own backyard? What is age truly? Simple numbers on a piece of paper awaiting to be marked off in a brisk motion lined with disdain and contempt for yet another year of aging? Or maybe I’m being a bit dramatic?
It’s been thirty years, and in those thirty-years were born my insatiable love for
food–I mean chocolate. I’m not sure what to share with you. I feel as though at times my life has been such a roller coaster ride–one in which I wanted to get off of many-a-time. But I can truthfully say that “I wouldn’t change a thing.” And yes, I’m fully aware of how cliché that statement is but it’s too late to drink coffee and wait for fresh phrases to surface.
If you look back over your past and find that there are things that you desire to change. You end up living a life stuck in the past and you become a victim of your past mistakes–living like this can be debilitating and you’re worth more than that, I’m worth more than that. Life is to be learned from and we are only to focus on the future not the past. I’m looking forward to what the next three decades will bring. I mean, just in the last ten years, I found my beautiful wife, we fought cancer, moved to Nashville where we have successful careers and purchased our first home. Now, I’m not insinuating that life has been idea, there’s a whole slew of bumps in the road, grey skies and unplanned events that are meant for another post. But that’s enough ranting for now, let’s talk cookies.
My wife, Jenna, is no baker and she refuses to pretend to be and I’m ok with that because if need be, my girl can bake break-apart cookies like a champ. She’ll tell you that her mom tried to get her in the kitchen and she declined with pleasure every-time. So I wasn’t surprised when she walked in the door with one of my favorite desserts, chocolate chip cookie cake! Ahhhh, it’s a beautiful thing and has been one of my favorite birthday gifts since I can remember and oh yeah, I occasionally get a jones for Pillsbury funfetti or strawberry cake. Guilty!…judge away!(#noshame).
I feel like I have been blessed beyond all that I deserve. God has been so good to me despite my constant neglect of Him in my life from day-to-day. You know, when you feel as though life is just too busy to stop and pray or simply tell Him thank you for that brisk wind beneath your chin. Life is a thing of beauty and I look forward to another three decades of taking it all in, appreciating the little things more often and stopping to say, thank you for a life I never could’ve created.
So clearly, my wife and I are fans of chocolate. It’s safe to say if dessert comes up in conversation, we’re typically on the same page unless I’m having a gummy candy craving. But these chocolate chip cookies have been taunting me from Food52 for quite some time now. I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect chocolate chip recipe that doesn’t need a ‘secret ingredient’, just the perfect balance of sweet and savory as it should be. There’s not a whole lot of things more satisfying than a well-executed textbook chocolate chip cookie and I know–I know, we could go around and around about salty over sweet and dark over milk, crunchy over chewy. But the truth is–for me, the ‘perfect’ chocolate chip cookie gives a little when you apply pressure with your finger, like a ripe avocado. The edges shatter and leave a trail of salty and bitter tip-toeing around your palate and last but certainly not least–the chewy center. I remember as a child eating the edges of the cookie first and the slow destruction of that chewy center always left me longing for one. more. cookie.
And this recipe I’m sure will leave you with the same nostalgic feeling of course, you must change some of the wording and make the story your own, so on and so forth. Enjoy these as much as I did last night. The last. day. of twenty-something.
Salted Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups French Broad Bar Chocolate (coarse chopped)
1 cup large bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup salted & toasted whole almonds, coarse chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 River Cottage Farm eggs
2 teaspoons Nielsen Massey vanilla extract
pre-heat oven to 375° F. Sift flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside. Mix together coarse chopped chocolate and chopped nuts. Set aside. On medium speed in a standing mixer, with the wire whip attachment, cream the butter and sugars until well mixed and light (you’ll notice a change in color). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add one egg. Mix for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add second egg. Mix for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add vanilla. Mix for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides.
You’re going to add the sifted flour mixture in 4 rounds, stopping before adding the final round. For the first 3 rounds, mix at low speed just to combine, scraping down the sides between each addition. When you get to the final round of flour, add the chocolate chip/nut mixture. They will get a bit crushed. That’s okay. Mix until there’s barely a trace of flour visible. Don’t over-mix. Sometimes, it’s better to be safe and do the final bit of mixing by hand. Set up a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake one tray at a time or they will all cook at different rates. Make them spherical, not flat. The cookie size is up to you. I find the bigger they are, the better ratio you have between gooey interior and crisp exterior. 2 ounces is about right for that. Leave a few inches between the raw cookies. Place sheet pan in the oven. They cook relatively fast at this temperature. I didn’t bother setting a time. My internal cookie alarm is pretty good about keeping track. Somewhere around 8-11 minutes. Make some coffee and wait.
They’re done when they’re brown and crispy on the outer border and raw in the very center. Remove the sheet pan and allow them to cool for a few minutes, then, with a spatula, transfer cookies to a cookie rack to cool. And I must tell you the cookies are even better the next day, so if you can stand it, its worth the wait. If you’re not going to eat them right away, they should be frozen. If you’re not baking them off right away, portion them out with an ice cream scoop, place them on a sheet pan, and freeze them. Once they’re firm, store them in a sealable bag. Works great to bake them off when they’re frozen. Enjoy.