Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies For One

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Photo by Taste As You Go

Living alone can have its benefits. I decide which DVDs to watch and when. I get to drink juice straight out of the carton. And, I can walk around my apartment in nothing but my skivvies without worrying about offending a roommate with my chosen state of undress. However, living alone can also have its downfalls.

 I'm 100% responsible for the rent and the paying of all of the bills. It gets lonely around here without having anyone to talk to. And, when I cook, I'm usually left with more leftovers than I know what to do with or a headache after trying to pare down a recipe that's meant to make 6-8 servings down to one that'll make 1-2 servings.

I found myself in that predicament a couple of weeks ago when, no matter what I did, I couldn't shake the deep craving I was having for freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I thought I could get away with satisfying the craving by snacking on some of the Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares that I scored at the cooking class I attended with Chef Elizabeth Falkner last month. No go. I wanted the cookies. I had to have the cookies. So, I went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients that I didn't already have on hand and devoted a Sunday afternoon to baking.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - Photo by Taste As You Go

To keep things simple, I stuck with the classic Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. The food enthusiast in me was screaming "Change up the recipe! Make it yours! Put your spin on it!" But I knew better than to try and compete with a craving like that. I'd feel awful if I attempted a new-to-me recipe and was disappointed with the results. Just making the dough lessened the intensity of the craving a bit. And when I poured the chocolate chips into the bowl to be folded into the dough, I inhaled deeply. There's nothing like the smell of those Morsels when they're fresh from the bag.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Photo by Taste As You Go

When I slid the first batch of cookies into the oven, a very somber thought hit me. That classic chocolate chip cookie recipe made 5 dozen cookies. What the hell was I going to do with 5 dozen cookies? In an ideal world where stomach aches and skin breakouts didn't exist, having all those cookies to myself would be a dream come true. But attempting to eat all of those cookies without assistance would only end one way -- badly. It then occurred to me that I did not have to bake all of the dough.

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - Photo by Taste As You Go

I wound up only baking half of it. I spooned out the rest of the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, as if I were going to bake it, and then slid the baking sheet into the freezer instead of the oven. A half hour later, I took the frozen pieces of cookie dough and put them into a freezer bag (with baking directions written on the outside) and put the bag back in the freezer. That way, if I had another chocolate chip cookie craving later, I could pull out a piece or two and bake them off without having to make a full recipe. Genius!

It turns out having cookie dough in the freezer is a very, very good thing because you can use it in a bunch of ways:
  • Bake the dough as needed (as described above)
  • Eat the dough raw, straight from the freezer (as I did for a midnight snack once a few times)
  • Chop the dough into smaller pieces and stir into ice cream
Stirring the dough into ice cream means you can choose the flavor rather than being stuck with plain old vanilla. Can't you just taste it.... Coffee Cookie Dough Ice Cream! I think I'd die on the spot if I could have that for dessert. And, "making" cookie dough ice cream this way instead of buying a pint of it at the grocery store is so much more economical!

I know, I know. Some of you are probably asking yourselves why I didn't just buy a package of refrigerated cookie dough. I could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble. But, remember what I said about inhaling deeply after pouring the chocolate chips into the dough? I would have missed out on that. To me, the refrigerated dough just isn't the same. The smell is different. The taste is different.

Cooking (or baking) isn't just about the final product -- it's about the process and about understanding how ingredients work with one another. It's about the experience.

Do you have any tips about making "dessert for one"?

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