Monday, January 28, 2013

No-butter Chocolate Chip Molasses Crinkle Cookies ... and my life story

I've been taking a break from this blog idea, but not from the kitchen. In fact, the new recipes and concepts I've been developing in the past year have got me feeling pretty excited about knotting my apron about my waist and making something utterly fabulous. Many people who enjoy my food wonder if I use magic. I do. My magic wand is my wooden spoon. It is a cherrywood spoon, as all of you Harry Potter fans out there know, the type of wood is important for a magician's wand. But my cherrywood spoon does not contain the magic itself, the magic only flows through it. Where does the magic come from? My theory is that there is a universal vibration of awesome recipes and cooking inspiration "out there" (i.e., floating in the ethers) and you have only to tap into its flow to access the magic that allows you to whip up a perfect soufflĂ© on the first try without following a recipe exactly, and to instinctively know how long to cook each ingredient in a perfect pot of soup. I do have quite a few more recipes to share with the world (meaning you), in fact, I can't really see an end to them. The ethers of universal recipes run thick, like a great homemade nacho cheese sauce, and I can't get enough.

In this past year while I've been breaking from blogging I've been quite the busy bee (so put that picture of me wearing a moo-moo and slippers, glued to a couch eating bonbons and watching Magnum P.I. out of your head). I travelled to Europe where a friend in Brighton, England introduced me to a great new sandwich concept that I've tried with success in a few variations (her original recipe has shrimp), and I also discovered the joy of watercress and the "English Breakfast". I've also moved into a great new house with my sweetie and his 8 year-old, so I'm enjoying cooking for a couple of boys now too which has inspired me to cook even more, and I've also found more success than ever with baking (the gluten-free applesauce cake... just you wait!). I've been doing some small-to-medium size catering events and business dinners too. In fact, the positive feedback I've been getting from those events is what has mostly inspired me to pick up my pen... er, laptop... again and start blogging some recipes. The thing about my recipes is that they are simple and don't take a whole lot of time or prep, they taste really awesome, and they are mostly very healthy, your body can actually feel how good it is!

Another interesting tidbit about me in the past year is that a kid hit my Volvo with his Jeep and totaled it about 5 months ago (thankfully I didn't still have my old flimsier car-- it was made of paper, which is why I had to get rid of it after a heavy week of rain last March-- but I didn't even get to enjoy my new Volvo 5 months!... aughh, universe... why?! why!!!). I had whiplash and so saw a doctor to set me back in a straight-ish line. As part of that I started doing yoga and realized it was setting me back in a straight line and then some, so I've actually been enjoying an almost-daily yoga practice for four months. I am even doing a January Yoga Challenge at my studio (yes, it's mine now, it belongs to me, if you want to join, the owner calls me first to make sure it's okay). The challenge is to do yoga every day for 30 days straight. I only have three days left! My partner's son asked me the other day, "So what do you win?" I win an extra-sexy body was the response that popped into my mind and didn't come out of my mouth, but the truth of the matter is that if I complete the challenge then I am entered in a drawing for a month of free unlimited yoga classes. Right now, mine might be the only name in the drawing, so my chances look good!

Well, not to disappoint you with all chat and no recipes... as the saying goes, "All chat and no recipes make Jack a very dull girl." Here is a simple recipe for no-butter chocolate chip molasses crinkle cookies...

- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup almond oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 heaping cup chocolate chips

I don't measure or follow recipes, but I think I'm pretty good at converting what I make into recipes that actually recreate the result very closely. That said, feel free to get nit-picky and make your own adjustments if you dare. I do not recommend adding diced sweet pickle to this recipe, nor do I recommend putting three heaping cups of molasses. You have been warned. Here's how I recommend doing it...

Beat the eggs, oil, half the sugar, and the molasses in a bowl. Put the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in another bowl and mix together with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the dry beating them in as you add. Now, take a good look at what you've done. Cookie dough is NOT cake batter, you don't want it to be runny. If it's too runny, you need to add a little more flour right now. And don't let it happen again. Likewise, if it's too dry and stiff so too your cookies shall be... dry, stiff... sad. Yes, cookies get sad too. Add a little more almond oil, only maybe a little tablespoon at a time, and mix thoroughly, to quench the dryness. Okay, now your dough is perfect, right? Wrong! Every good cookie dough (and I realize culinary opinions on the matter vary according to taste) must contain chocolate chips. Duh. So add those in. Put the other 1/4 cup of sugar into a small bowl. Now, get a couple soup spoons out of your silverware drawer and scoop up a ball of dough with one (think ping-pong ball, not basketball), slide it off into the sugar with the other, now pick it up and press it slightly with the back of one of the spoons sugar-side-up onto the cookie sheet. Your oven should be at 375 degrees. If you didn't let the cookie sheets warm up in the oven first, you'll probably need to bake the first batch of cookies about 12 minutes. After that, you'll only need to bake them about 10 minutes, just keep an eye on them. They'll crackle on the top, the edges may be firm, but the center will be a bit soft usually. Take them off the tray with a metal or wooden spatula and set them on a wood block or cooling rack if you've got one of those. Keeps several days in a cookie jar. (That was a joke... you'll be lucky if they last a day or two, they get eaten very quickly in our house). Makes about 12-18 depending on how big you make them!

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