There are cravings you can suppress, and then there are the other kinds of cravings. The kind that can’t be ignored, however much you really, honestly want to ignore them. The ones that fall under the category of “I MUST HAVE THIS IF I EVER HOPE TO BE A COMPLETE/HAPPY/FUNCTIONING HUMAN”.
I have learned – and continue to learn – that when you really want something, and you have an image of this very thing in your head that’s so vivid you could just reach out and touch it, there is no substitute. You must have it. You could try having some alternate version, but it won’t satisfy that deep-seated NEED.
I’m like this about certain pairs of Nikes, burgers, and cookies. Sometimes I’ll want a cookie, and I’ll get one from Starbucks. If I catch a nice barista, the cookie will be warm and a little gooey in the middle, and it’s alright. Nothing spectacular.
And then there are times I need a cookie. A real cookie. I’m not after the sugar so much as a multi-layered experience of WOW. Crisp edges, chewy center. Maybe some melt-y chips inside. But I don’t want a lot of goo. I want crunch and spice and warmth and zing and CHOCOLATE (most of the time; I do eat lots of cookies without chocolate).
I’m back on the Weight Watchers wagon at the moment. I had myself in tip-top shape, and then I got married and went to Hawaii, and my husband and I were all about relaxing and stuffing our faces and taking a break from being consumed with our diets. It was a magical week. And then it was Thanksgiving. And then it was Christmas.
And then there were another 10 pounds on the scale. Oops.
So I’m watching what I eat, and most days I do fine. I eat my veggies, I drink my green tea, I look like the picture of self discipline & inner poise. But last night, as I approached Penn Station on my way home, I found myself wanting a cookie. So I ducked into the Starbucks on 7th Avenue & 31st and got a warm chocolate chip cookie. And a few minutes later, after I took a second bite I thought to myself, “This is really not what I wanted. It’s sugary and has no variation in its texture and it’s so disappointing. Ugh.”
Of course I ate the rest of it. I hate it when I do things like that.
Today I was determined to erase the experience of the bad cookie and instead make a cookie I could be proud of. I flipped through a bunch of my cookbooks and looked at my usual spots online, but nothing was jumping out at me saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”. I had three ingredients I really wanted to use: dark chocolate chips, tart dried cherries, and walnuts. You know, antioxidant rich and pretend-healthy.
So I decided to improvise. I looked at a recipe for oatmeal cookies in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, took it apart, and put it back together as a brand new recipe. If the raw dough is any indication, these babies are going to be fabulous, and I expect the result to be…
The Cookie I Want When I Need a Fucking Cookie
1.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup fresh walnut pieces
12 oz. bag Nestlé Dark Chocolate Chips, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup tart dried cherries, roughly chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats and walnuts on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until you can smell the walnuts. Remove the pan immediately and set aside to cool.
Measure out a heaping cup of the chocolate chips, place them in a microwave safe bowl. Set the remaining chips aside.
Microwave the bowl of chocolate chips for 30 seconds, then remove and stir chocolate. If not several whole chips remain, continue microwaving at 10 second intervals and stirring until you have a homogenous mixture. Set aside to cool.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. You want to allow time for air to work its way through the mixture – it will be light in color and fluffy. Turn off the mixer and add the melted chocolate. Resume mixing at medium speed, and add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Then add the vanilla and continue to blend for another 30 seconds. Stop the mixer.
Add the flour, cinnamon,baking powder and salt and mix on the slowest setting for 30 seconds – this is just so the flour doesn’t blow up in your face. Then increase the mixing speed to medium and mix until all ingredients are just combined. Turn off the mixer. Add oats & walnuts, the dried cherries and remaining chocolate chips. Mix on the lowest setting for 10-20 seconds, until everything is combined.
Remove the mixing bowl from the standing mixer, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, or overnight. Make sure to take the bowl out of the fridge about an hour before you’re ready to start baking – otherwise the dough will be solid as a rock.
Position rack in the center of the oven and set the temperature to 375 degrees. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to form balls of dough, and place on a cookie sheet about 1.5 inches apart. Since the dough is cold, the cookies don’t spread very much. If you make small cookies (1 scoop each), you’ll fit about 14 to a pan. If you make them larger, as pictured, 9 will fit on a pan. This recipe yielded 30 small cookies and 9 large. It could have been more, but I ate some dough.
Whatever. It was good. Real good.