Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Comfort in a Cookie

I think it was a little over a week or so ago that I got on this kick to find the ultimate cookie recipe. Throughout the course of my searching – a good 8 hours a few Sundays ago - pouring through cookbooks and magazines and google results – I realized my efforts were futile. There is no ‘ONE’ best cookie. My favorite will likely not be yours, and that’s a good thing. That means, with any luck, throughout the course of this project, I may hit the mark for ‘someone’ every week. And the coolest thing is, that it’s not always about the palate, sometimes it might be the look or the texture, the smell or even how it feels or dissolves in your mouth or the memory it evokes. Any of these characteristics in food has the ability to transport us, if only for a second, to another era, another moment or time in our lives – it can be a pleasant reminder, and hopefully it just tastes good.

Such was the case with this weeks cookies for me. After polling my family for recipes of our youth, I ended up, not with ‘the’ recipe, but several variations of a single, simple, cookie we’d all been weaned on, Sour Cream Drop Cookies. The front runners in the recipe search turned out to be one I found after unearthing my mom’s old recipe card box (gotta love the stains on it! also, note the lack of directions & oven temp, baking time, etc.  I guess simple list of ingredients was all a home baker needed back then), and the other from my sister in law Kim. No doubt she scribbled it out down during one of her many accidental cooking lessons my mother bestowed upon her during the early years of her marriage to my brother Paul. They lived around the corner and as a new bride and later a new mother, she, along with her first son Nicholas, became my mom’s constant kitchen companions. Between there and the coffee shared on the front porch, well, talk about ‘Kitchen Wisdom?’ I’m sure those conversations had it all over any advice Julia could impart upon her, and doubt very much of it had a whole lot to do with cooking!

Oh, wait, I’m supposed to be talking about cookies – you see what can happen? When I found my mom’s recipe file, I was hoping it would match up with what Kim had found – then it would be definitive. They were very close in proportions for fat & sugar & eggs & flour – the one big difference was the recipe file card cookie was made with brown sugar, where the other version used white sugar. So, channeling my own ‘Top Chef’ I decided I’d to make both versions, my very own ‘Duo of Sour Cream Cookies.’ I adopted icing recipes from similar cookie recipes I had found on line – because in my memory, there MUST be icing (truth be told, they really didn’t need it, but they sure look good). The brown sugar cookie has a deadly version of a Penuche type, brown sugar frosting and is very sweet – unfortunately for me though, there is no such thing as ‘too sweet,’ unless you’re talking about wine :)  Hope the folks who end up eating them feel similarly.

It’s funny because the most obvious thing about both versions of this cookie recipe is that they make enough to feed a small village. Which makes me believe my Mom, at some point, baked them both, because growing up in a house with 9 other people (or 10 actually – I can’t forget Aunt Mary!) you need A LOT of cookies. The other obvious thing – they’re easy, and have standard fare for ingredients. The only item that might require some planning would be the sour cream, but no worries there, we can just ask Dan the Milkman to deliver some when he’s here again on Wednesday…. wait, what? what year is it again?

You can see both versions in the pictures and I’ve entered the recipes and posted them online through the SparkPeople site – as White Sugar Dough and Brown Sugar Dough. (also note the recipe Kim published in the comments section below has a small typo, it should read 1 tsp Baking Soda, 1 tsp Baking Powder - it's corrected in the versions on SparkPeople).

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