Life has a funny way of dealing us its highs and lows simultaneously. It’s probably for good reason. Without the lows, we might not appreciate how good we have it. And without the baby smiles and sweet husband’s birthdays, getting through the tough times would feel infinitely more difficult. Seasons come and go, and as hard as it is to understand the whys and whens of what’s happening when it’s happening, there’s a comfort that comes in looking at the perfect curls on my beautiful niece or the newly toothy grin of my sweet little Bean and realizing that life is blooming all around us.
When hard times hit, people instinctively turn to the things they know. For me, aside from an embarrassingly vast knowledge of Disney Channel trivia and my editor’s vault of grammar-related know-how, what I know is baking. Thankfully, the comforting benefits of baking seem to expand beyond the baker herself (usage lessons on lay versus lie, on the other hand, seem to have the opposite effect). I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately (cookies, specifically, because who doesn’t love a cookie?), and it’s amazing what a cup of coffee and dose of sugar can do to lift the spirits. Even if the effect is fleeting, and even if the sweetness only provides a small relief from all the thoughts that are spinning in our heads, I truly believe that the moments we take to stop and reflect on the sweet things of life are never without purpose. A cookie brings with it a dash of hope. And a hopeful spirit is always a good thing.
For those who are interested in the cookie itself, I promise you won’t be disappointed, unless you have an unexplainable dislike for chocolate or delicious cookies that walk the perfect balance between crisp on the outside and unbelievably — almost magically — chewy on the inside. Come to think of it, they did disappear rather quickly after coming out of the oven. Maybe there really is some magic in them. I hope so.
Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies
Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart’s Cookies, page 75
• 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, softened
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• turbinado sugar
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda, and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (you could use a hand mixer instead), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
Form dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll them in the turbinado sugar until covered and place them about 1 ½ inches apart on parchment-lined or Silpat-covered baking sheet. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until set. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.