My favorite line from my second-favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is this: “Scoop 6 3 ?-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.”
Mounds of dough, generous golf balls–there is much to admire in this one sentence; but it’s the idea of unattractive cookies that gets me each time I make the recipe. Those sad little lumps, with their vertical chocolate pieces, their frumpy misshapen bits. Time and time again they are passed over by the picky, precision-obsessed cookie-eaters, perhaps fearful that any aslant chocolate bits may cause mouth-injury, or detract from the golden, brown-sugar goodness of a perfectly-shaped-and-baked chocolate chip cookie.
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Even Cookie Monster is tough on cookies these days.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got nothing against attractive cookies. In fact, just today I purchased an implement called an OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop in the hopes of making my own decidedly haphazard cookie batches more uniform. Perhaps this scoop will help me achieve the holy grail of the chocolate chip cookie, the “three distinct textures” described here by Maury Rubin, whose City Bakery sells over 1,000 cookies a day: “First there’s the crunchy outside inch or so. Then there’s the center, which is soft. But the real magic is the one-and-a-half-inch ring between them where the two textures and all the flavors mix.”
Not my cookies.
Last night, cookie-less, specially-designed-cookie-scooping-device-less, I was complaining about the state of the rough draft of my novel to my partner. I don’t recall if I was bemoaning the mess of a structure or the absence of a coherent point of view, but I do remember what he said: “Remember, the best books are messy.”
Cold, short days are upon us. It’s dark now already, before most people’s workdays are even done. Take comfort in both beautiful and ugly cookies; in the (admittedly) convenient advice offered by loved ones; in big, messy drafts; in messy books; and in characters whose messes of lives are comforts, too.