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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The International Cookie Conundrum

I don't know if many of my readers know this about me, but I make chocolate chip cookies. Not just any chocolate chip cookies, mind you - Vaguely Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I sold these things for four years at my local farmer's market. Initially, the name drove some people off. I frequently heard "Ugh, no thanks, I prefer my cookies unhealthy." I gently reminded my customers that my cookies were not entirely healthy, thankyouverymuch - just vaguely, due to the fact that I used the best quality and minimally processed ingredients available  in the market.

While my exact recipe remains a secret that I refuse to disclose except in the event of a very large sum of money, what makes my cookies different is the fact that they are infused with a flax meal egg replacement, and feature REAL vanilla extract, alongside stone ground whole wheat flour, kosher salt, and more. It's a hefty, hearty, vaguely healthy experience. My clientele were testament to this - after four years and one 3rd place award in a general baked goods contest, I was selling out nearly every week at the market and taking large orders for those customers who just couldn't get enough of my vaguely healthy goodness.

Four years, man. Four years of baking something like once a week for 50 weeks each year. So it stands to reason that I might be going through a little withdrawal here after almost two months without a single sniff or taste of my beloved recipe.

So I broke down and hit up the local Lider store on a mission to bake MY cookies. "It's almost Christmas," I reasoned, "I need to share cookies with people." I make this sound easier than it was - I had to go almost four separate times before I recognized the baking aisle (it was that small), and then a couple more times before they had chocolate chips in stock (one brand, super expensive, one package available). Awesome.

Furthermore, it appears that Chile does not differentiate between baking powder and baking soda. Due to the specifics of my secret recipe, I won't elaborate on which one I use, nor the brand, but let's just say that it's still unclear what I was using, how it was processed, and why the other kind isn't also made available to the baking public.

i was able to find wheat flour, which was nice, but stone ground varieties were conspicuously absent. I had procured my own sea salt from the local vegan store, which I ground using mortar and pestle. Raw sugar (or what looks like raw sugar) was also available - score. (I am slowly revealing my whole recipe to the general public, and I realize this, BUT I'LL NEVER DISCLOSE MY RATIOS!)

I got a little stumped when it came to Brown Sugar Time. It was nowhere. Like, actually, physically non-existent. Como como?? Hello, I thought this place was founded by Germans. There is an explosion of pound cake around every corner, and while I don't actually know if brown sugar is a requirement in any of the pastries or baked goods produced in the area, you would think it was.

So I turned to Luz for help. I described what I was looking for, and after much explanation and lack of dictionary and/or online translator, we got to the bottom of it. She hands me a brick of something that smelled like brown sugar, tasted like brown sugar - by god, it was brown sugar in brick form. She told me to use the crazy grater instrument that I have never once in my life used. What a genius implement, I see now.

This was a therapeutic and invigorating experience.

When it was all said and done, I had a basic approximation of my recipe, minus the flax meal, which meant I baked cookies using eggs for the first time in four years. Similar to my Thanksgiving Baking Experiment of 2012, I did this all without a single measuring tool. Boy was that fun. Again.


What emerged from the oven after a very nervous and pacey 7 to 11 minutes (once again, cannot disclose the time allotted in the oven - also this number is unclear to me because I have no way of telling what temperature I set the oven to, making any attempt at my prior method a total gamble) was this:

Readily identifiable cookies! Chilean Success!

Luz's reaction after tasting my not-so-vaguely-healthy-anymore cookies?

"La encuentro bien. Muy bien." I find it to be good. Very good.

My reaction after tasting my not-so-vaguely-healthy-anymore cookies?

Shit, these are buttery. And sorta gummy. And maybe I didn't use enough sugar. Maybe it was the brown sugar, since I did get lazy and not add the whole [amount has been censored] cup. Is it possible to have a buttery cookie? What purpose does the brown sugar serve, anyway? Why does it not come pre-grated here? Do these chocolate chips actually taste like anything? I better eat another one and find out. 

Next up: making these again, but this time WITH the flax meal, which I was able to find. Now I just have to wait for those chocolate chips to be in stock again...


  1. Brown sugar is just Reggie sugar with molasses FYI :p

  2. Reggie can take his sugar and grate it for me next time, por favor y gracias!!!

  3. I miss those vaguely healthy cookies.

  4. LOL Shannon, international supermarkets. The only thing you really need to know is where to find the Nutella, right?

    I am intrigued by this brown sugar brick.