Growing up, there was only one kind of chocolate chip cookie in our house–Toll House. When my mom made them, she always let us eat the dough. Oh, joy, the good old days when we never gave salmonella a second thought. I can still remember digging my spoon into that mound of dough dotted with chocolate chips. I would almost make myself sick eating the dough–but it was worth it!
By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, I could whip up a Toll House batch by heart. No need to even look at the back of the yellow and black crinkly package.
Now, with my own family, I am considered the queen of chocolate chip cookies, and, yes, we still eat the dough. I’ve tinkered with the recipe over the years, but just a smidge–one stick salted and one stick unsalted butter and a little more brown sugar than white–but that’s it because the Toll House recipe is kind of inviolable. My chocolate chip cookies are a tradition in my family. So much so that when my youngest daughter Julia wants to make them, her older sister tells her: “No. Only mom can make them because hers are the best.”
So when I was looking through Dorie Greenspan’s new cookie book, and I saw she had a recipe called “Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies,” my immediate reaction was “UH-UH!” It called for whole wheat flour, nutmeg, and coriander. I said to myself, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” But then I got a little adventuresome and thought…okay, I’ll try it.
I was skeptical as I sifted the coriander and nutmeg into the flour mixture with one part whole wheat. Sheesh! I turned on my Mixmaster and Voila! Dorie’s chocolate chip cookie dough was ready. My husband was working in the other room and heard the familiar sounds of baking. He sauntered into the kitchen asking, “Is that chocolate-chip cookie dough?” “Yes,” I told him. “But I just want to warn you that these are not my usual…” Before I could finish my sentence he had plunged his spoon into the dough and popped it into his mouth. “Mmmm,” he said. “Delicious!” He got out a new spoon–I had trained him well–and went for seconds.
I said to him, “You mean, you really like it? It doesn’t bother you that it’s ‘different’?”
His mouth was too full of dough to answer. Moments later Julia tumbled into the house and made a beeline for the bowl. “Yum, chocolate chip cookie dough.” Before I could warn her, she grabbed a spoon and dove in. Her eyes got big and she smiled through her mouth full of dough. No words needed. While our stomachs digested the dough, I chilled what was left and then later popped a batch into the oven. The aroma from the cookies, with their infusion of nutmeg and coriander, filled the house with a hint of Christmas. And how did they taste? Well, let’s just say the three of us finished off the first batch hot out of the oven. Yep, the entire cookie sheet. Julia summed it up perfectly: “These are GOOD!”
Now there’s a little “tiny tip” hidden in this story. How often do we find ourselves glued to doing things a certain way? Yes, traditions are good, but sometimes it’s ok to change things up a bit, to add a little “nutmeg” or “coriander” to your life. To say “yes” to something new.
Dorie Greenspan, herself, knows the value of continually putting herself out there and experimenting with new ideas. This wonderful baker/chef actually started out working on a doctorate in gerontology but never wrote her dissertation. After her son was born, she didn’t go back to it and didn’t know what she wanted to do. She did know she loved food and writing, and eventually ended up with her dream job–baking, cooking, writing cookbooks, and sharing her expertise online.
Dorie says she’s lucky she gets to do what she loves, but I would argue that her “luck” came from her openness to new ideas. She told Epicurious, “Every time something looked like an opportunity, I always said, ‘Yes.’ I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted it to be food.”
Not everything we try always works out. But that’s okay. There’s always another recipe, another batch, and who knows what you might discover along the way when you add a little spice to your life.
For more cookie blogs highlighting tested recipes and great tips from Dorie’s wonderful new book, Dorie’s Cookies, visit Prairie Path Books online. Here’s the link: http://www.prairiepathbooks.com/blog/