Heat off? Oven on!

The only thing worse than dealing with subfreezing temperatures is dealing with subfreezing temperatures when the heat is broken.

Last week Mark and I woke up to discover that the heat was off.  We’re used to the occasional drafty night.  But this was downright cold.  Something was wrong.  Shortly thereafter, our super stopped by to give us the bad news.  Not only had the heat broken on the coldest night in a week, but the plumber wasn’t available until the next day.

By that evening, despite attempts to warm up at the office and at dinner in a nearby (disappointingly chilly) restaurant, it was pretty uncomfortable in our non-heated apartment.  Knowing that the oven usually makes our kitchen a sauna, baking seemed like a logical – if temporary – solution to the problem. Itching to start up the blog again, I was in the mood to make something new.  But I was limited to the ingredients I had at home.  The last thing I wanted to do was go outside where it was even colder.

IMG_1414I had butter, eggs, flour, sugar… the usual baking ingredients.  I also had a bag of chocolate chips in the fridge leftover from the holidays, so that was a start.  Normally when I have extra chips in the house, I’ll make the recipe on the back of the bag.  But this did not solve the “something new” challenge.  Then I had an idea – make chocolate chip cookies, but with a different recipe.

I had just received for Christmas two cookbooks by Baked, one of our favorite bakeries in Brooklyn.  I’ve tried a few Baked recipes before and every singleIMG_1410 one has been fantastic.  My fingers were crossed that one of the two books would have a chocolate chip cookie recipe, and – not surprisingly, given their penchant for the old classics – they did.

“How different could chocolate chip cookie recipes be?” asked Mark.  Good question.  A quick side-by-side comparison indicated that Baked favors more brown sugar than standard recipes.  And more vanilla.  I briefly panicked when I realized I only had a drop of vanilla left.  Then I remembered that I had an extra bottle in the back of the cabinet for just such an occasion.  (Yes, I have a vanilla stash.  I bake a lot.)

IMG_1413They also required you to chill the dough for six hours.  Hmmm…. I’m a fan of chilling cookie dough.  And the apartment was getting near fridge-level temperatures.  But the whole point of baking the cookies was to have the oven on and bake right away.  I made an executive decision to skip that part.  Lastly, the recipe said it would make two dozen cookies.  Normally, I get at least three or four dozen out of a single recipe.  But if it called for two dozen…

“I’m making big cookies.” –Leslie

“Nice.” –Mark

Once I had the ingredients, the process was familiar.  Wet in one bowl.  Dry in another.  Mix together.  Add chips.

By the time I was ready to scoop out the cookies, the kitchen was genuinely warm.  So much so that we each were able to shed one of our many layers.

IMG_1417The recipe called for an ice cream scoop to shape the cookies.  We were definitely talking big here.

I dished out two trays worth of cookies – twelve on each – and still had some leftover dough.  Mark offered to get me a third tray, but I refused.  I was genuinely curious to see how big these cookies were supposed to be.  I dolled out the remaining dough across the two trays.  It looked ridiculous and amazing at the same time.  The dough was so big that I actually had to shift the shelves in the oven to leave more space between the two trays.

A brief eleven minutes later, we had two dozen large, perfectly golden cookies cooling on the table.

IMG_1420

IMG_1422Mark boiled water for tea, I pulled a couple “test cookies” for us while storing the rest in a tin, and we retreated to the chilly living room where we each grabbed a blanket and our slippers.

Despite still needing to bundle up, the baking effort had been a success.  The apartment was a little bit warmer than it had been before.

And as for the cookies… once again, the gentlemen of Baked have proven their worth.  I never thought I would find a chocolate chip cookie recipe I liked better than the Nestle standard, but this one is fantastic.  Even without chilling the dough, the cookies were light and fluffy – and yet perfectly cooked inside.  And that extra brown sugar and vanilla gave it a much deeper flavor.  It’ll be hard to leave my traditional recipe behind, but I have a new gold standard in cookies.

The next day, we came home to a warm apartment (the plumber had arrived) and twenty-two more delicious cookies (they were so big we each only had one the night before).  That was quite the treat.IMG_1424

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