It’s the kind of blustery spring day when birds swoop urgently from tree to tree–it’s almost spring after all!–but there are still a few snowflakes dithering around, apparently not sure whether to go up or down. So it’s chilly and unsettled, but there is that sense that spring is ready to burst out. Until it does though, I will be staying indoors and doing indoor things.
The other day, I decided to stencil some dish towels, just for fun. I purchased two Aunt Martha dish towels, and went searching through my cache of stencils. For the first towel, I used a Berry Vine stencil # 17871 from Momenta. Vines have a traditional feel, but this design has a modern vibe.
I used Neopaque Artists Acrylic in color #584 and a stencil brush to stencil the pattern.
The cookies on the plate were award-winners in a long-ago contest in the Washington Post, and are called Rhyder McClure’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Mr. McClure evidently had had thoughts of creating a chocolate chip cookie empire and had supposedly spent months perfecting this recipe. It was always a curiosity to me, because the exactness of the measuring method seemed peculiar. Pro bakers measure flour by weight, knowing that it can settle, so measuring flour by the tablespoon is rather odd. My curiosity finally got the better of me the other day and I baked the cookie, wondering all the while why it called for one teaspoon of orange juice. Following is the recipe, with comments!
Rhyder McClure’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mix well and put aside:
24 tblsp bleached flour
22 tblsp unbleached flour
1 teaspoon plus pinch baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch of nutmeg
Blend well in a large mixing bowl:
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tblsp solid vegetable shortening
6 tblsp peanut butter
2 tblsp white sugar
8 tblsp light brown sugar
12 tblsp dark brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice
1 tsp perked coffee (I used a little bit of instant.
Add flour mixture bit by bit to butter mixture, stirring continually. When fully blended, add:
1 beaten egg
12 ounces chocolate chips
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp shredded coconut
Mix the ingredients into a solid ball of dough. If everything has been done correctly, the dough ball can easily be removed from the bowl, and flipped in the air. (I did this–it was fun–and when the dough landed, the entire kitchen table shook.) There is n need to do this, other than for fun, but it is an accurate test of the baker’s measuring skills. (Really?)
Allow the dough to oxidize in open air for half an hour, and then place 1/2-inch diameter balls of dough on a cookie pan and bake exactly 8-1/2 minutes. (Half inch balls of dough are small as marbles. I baked a few test cookies, and they remained looking like marbles. I think this was a typo, and I went on to form the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls.) Place the baked cookies in a sealable container as soon as they come off the pan, and try not to eat them for at least 12 hours.
Note: For easier measuring, there are 16 tablespoons to one cup, so 24 tablespoons would equal 1-1/2 cups.
So the $64,000 question is, were they worth this baking ordeal, including tossing the ball of dough straight up into the air? Well, I never usually laugh when making chocolate chip cookies, but I have to say, I had some good chortles with this recipe. At some point, when I was trying to measure a teaspoon of coconut, there were some belly laughs that almost blew the coconut right off of the spoon. So they are fun. And actually, they are very good–crisp and tasty, but they are more like peanut butter cookies than plain chocolate chips. Could not taste the orange juice at all. The spicing was good, giving the cookie a tasty undertone that blended well with the chocolate chips.
I would make these again, but I would use all regular flour, would not worry about using both light and dark brown sugars, and would certainly leave out the teaspoon of orange juice.
In church this morning, this Palm Sunday, we sang Fairest Lord Jesus, and I loved these beautiful verses:
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming garb of spring.
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and all the twinkling starry host.
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast.
May you have a happy week. Namaste. Fran