Monday, April 7, 2014

A Plan

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I remember Jean-Philipe, a Parisian I worked for when I was 20, laughing when I told him about my "plans."   Who knows what I was dreaming up at that age, but I had enthusiastically spelled it out with confidence for him.  "You can't plan life," he told me! 

He was mostly right.  I just sort of fell, or stepped, or leaped into several fortuitous situations in my young adult life, and kept moving ahead on my path. Still, I've kept on planning all these years, maybe it's the eternal optimist in me.   I make mental lists and day dream and somehow put one foot in front of the other and these lists get completed and my dreams become reality, well, sometimes.  

No, you can't plan whether your plane will arrive on time, or how you'll end up in another 20 years time.  But there's a lot you can plan, and count on.  Like what's for dinner all week, or more importantly, dessert.  So instead of flying by the seat of my pants,  I like to know that I'm never more than ten minutes away from a freshly baked cookie.  And this is how I do it.  With a plan, and some strategically frozen cookie dough.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with a hint of Coconut
Adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe

This dough can be frozen for up to a month (but I've left it longer and it's been fine, not to mention a nice surprise).  I usually prefer a cookie with lots of nuts but I sometimes bake them without, to accommodate my toddler who still gets frustrated with walnuts.  I like to substitute coconut palm sugar for a "healthier" cookie.  And I usually skimp on the amount of regular sugar, since most cookies taste too sweet for me.  But I've given Lebovitz's amounts below.  

Makes about 3 dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar (I prefer less)
¾ cup granulated sugar (I substituted coconut palm "sugar")
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
14 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand) beat together the butter, sugars and vanilla on medium speed until just smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time until throughly incorporated, then stir in the flour mixture, followed by the coconut, nuts (if using) and chocolate.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half.  Shape each piece into a log (resembling a 12 inch long baguette) and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until firm (or freeze at this point for later use).

Preheat your oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the logs into ¾ inch disks and place them a few inches apart on your backing sheet.  If the nuts or chips crumble out, simply press them back together.  

Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies are lightly browned in the centers, about 10 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack.  

4 comments:

  1. I follow similar baking strategies - pack it full of healthy stuff - nuts, flax, nutritional yeast, use coconut oil or at least some of the butter, and I substitute honey or maple syrup for some of the sugar. It might not make the perfect dessert cookie, but it is healthier for my family and satisfies my sweet tooth! Yesterday was pb oat chocolate chip cookies made with homemade pb and all coconut oil, not butter.

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  2. amelia from z tasty lifeApril 8, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    Oh Nicole! I so needed to read this post today... plans are hard to stick by but i do think that if we really really wish for something we can "pull it" our way. I am in the midst of so many changes: at work and with our home, so the consistency of a good dinner and, yes, dessert, is what makes plans work for me too lately. P.s. The coconut addition sounds so delicious! A little unexpected surprise makes everything interesting, doesn't it?

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  3. I should probably get into the habit of freezing cookie dough... or maybe not come to think about it... otherwise the 10 pounds I just managed to lose will come right back!

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  4. Planning. Hmm. I always seem to be flying by the seat of my pants with some big dreams in the wings. There's something about the vision that seems to pull me in the correct direction, even if I don't have the details nailed down. The texture of your cookie in focus up there look so good. I wonder if your freezing the dough improves the final cookie texture.

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