There are all kinds of people in the world (and sometimes, that’s unfortunate). There are good ones, bad ones, good ones that have been bad to some, bad ones that have been good to some…we have all met our fair share of “types.” You know, as a barista, I encounter all of them. Daily. In hordes. In my two and a half years seeking to master the coffee, it has certainly not been lost on me the bug-eyed, broken capillary-ed, white knuckled, ready-to-snap fragility of character that often rests at the crest of the caffeine wave before it crashes and merges with its surroundings.
Here’s the thing: I can look at a situation and understand that whatever your actions, they are representative of you. The part I haven’t quite grasped just yet is how to handle it when those around me are hurting. Even when it’s miniscule. It’s taken a lot of practice, but I’ve found that there is one clear antidote. See, Benjamin Franklin once said, “When in doubt, don’t.” But saying is not meaning, and we all know he intended the words: “Don’t not bake cookies.”
So when I came home from an early morning shift to find this darling girl (who
helped me eat all of the ice cream Sarasota has to offer visited from Germany in August) having a strange beginning to her day, I got started baking, STAT. While my cousin took some quiet time to energize before the rest of our day transformed to awesomeness, I set out to make the best batch of cookies I possibly could.
I toasted some oats to golden, nutty perfection. I browned some butter. I scooped my homemade brown sugar. I opened a new pack of milk chocolate chips. I refrigerated the dough. I sliced the log into sugary rounds and baked until the middles were slightly underdone for chewiness maximization. And later, after a day in the sun giggling and holding hands and parading around by the beach, we both took a bite only to realize very quickly that I completely forgot to add cinnamon. That moment, right there, is when it became clear just how terribly important a component spice is in our familiar favorite, the oatmeal cookie.
That’s okay. Sometimes, we miss the mark on our first try. Sometimes, that’s the whole point. Because then, when my dear cousin had left, I missed her so much that I baked and I baked until I got it right. And when I finally perfected the recipe-by adding raisins and too many chocolate chips, by liberally supplying BOTH cinnamon AND chinese five spice (do we think that someone has a new favorite ingredient?), by refraining from refrigerating the dough, and by shortening the baking time-it felt a little bit like it was in my cousin’s honor. She’s back in Germany these days doing busy and important med school things, and I guess this is my way of saying to her: I miss you, I am proud of you, and there is always a space in my home and half a plate of cookies for you.
…because you know I already ate the other half. AMIRIGHT?
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Toasted Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp chinese five spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 cup high-quality milk or semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread oats evenly on a baking sheet and place in oven to toast until fragrant and golden, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place butter in small saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, allowing the butter to melt completely, and then to brown. Butter will foam first, and then pop. Once nutty, fragrant, and speckled with little brown flecks, remove from heat and let cool. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in oats. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together brown sugar and brown butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat for one additional minute. Beat in vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients in halves, being careful not to over-mix. Stir in raisins and chocolate chips. Scoop in heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet(s). Bake for 8 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool on baking sheet(s) for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Store in airtight container for up to three days.