Friday, March 07, 2008

Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Pecans, Dried Apricots, and Dried Sour Cherries (Page 662)

  • Date: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I am starting to try to work through some of the sections of The Book from the beginning of the section, picking up the recipes I haven't made yet. This was the first recipe in the Cookies, Bars, and Confections section that I hadn't made. When I read this recipe my first thought was, "What?!? No vanilla?!?" When I tasted the finished cookies my first thought was "What?!? No vanilla?!?" Vanilla extract is to baking what salt is to the rest of cooking (confusingly enough salt is to baking what salt is to the rest of cooking too, so this really wouldn't make a very good SAT question...). What I am trying to say is this: salt goes in everything. Vanilla goes in essentially every baked good, and also some other stuff. Vanilla, like salt, is a flavor enhancer. Its ultimate purpose is usually not to impart its own flavor, but rather to enhance the other flavors around it. So in the same way that I am deeply, deeply skeptical of recipes that don't call for any salt, I was skeptical of these cookies from the start. "What?!? No vanilla?!?" Aside from this vanilla craziness, this recipe isn't so different from the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Toll House Chocolate Chips bag (a recipe which I love, by the way). The ratios are a touch different, and of course these cookies are studded with chocolate chunks, chopped pecan, dried sour cherries, and chopped apricots instead of good old Toll House Chocolate Chips. The verdict: the recipe is pretty good. The cookies desperately needed vanilla. Without vanilla the buttery flavor didn't shine through the way it should in a fine chocolate chip cookie. I also thought the chunks went a bit overboard. I am not a huge fan of dried fruit and chocolate in the same cookie (that's just me) so I would have preferred these either without the chocolate chunks or without the cherries and apricots. But as they were, I have certainly been eating them. Matty says, "They're good." Truth be told, he says that about almost everything, but hey, he's easy to please! If I were you, I'd stick with the Toll House recipe. Hell, if you like the fruit, just add it to that!

Here is the recipe.

My travels went smoothly yesterday and I made it into Providence right on time! My luggage, however, did not. My suitcase arrived with me (as luggage is supposed to), but the cooler full of frozen food I had made for my special gentleman friend got stuck in Chicago. How they managed to misplace only one of my pieces of luggage I am not sure. And of course it was the one with perishables in it! I pleaded with the luggage lady to have them send it last night. There were no more flights from Chicago to Providence, but there were flights to Boston taht they could have put it on, which would have made it easier for them to deliver anyway. No such luck. She said she would get it to me "As soon as possible." It arrived just now, more than 24 hours after I arrived. I have some difficulty believing that it takes 24 hours to get from Ohare to Somerville, MA. I had prepared my special gentleman for the worst -- that probably all of the food (except some cookies) would have to be thrown away. I am a stickler for food safety, and if that food was above 40 degrees, it was going in the trash. The shocking thing was, the food was still cold. I was concerned, of course, that it had warmed up into the temperature danger zone at some time in the last 24 hours and had then gotten colder again (which is a pretty unlikely series of events in an insulated cooler, but I am cautious!), but actually much of the food was still partially frozen! So either that Target cooler is way better than what I paid for it, or they stored it overnight someplace pretty cold. I am betting on the latter, but still, props to my cooler. I carefully inspected the containers one by one with my thermometer, and ultimately decided everything was safe to keep, except one soup with a lot of egg in it. This was a happy turn of events. My special gentleman friend hates to throw food away, especially homemade food! And there were some good things in there: brownies, cookies, pizza, black beans, white beans, gnocchi, smelly soup, lima beans, etc...


Anonymous said...

Your bag (or, in this case, cooler) isn't the only one lost, and it doesn't travel nonstop from O'Hare to Somerville...

It is one of hundreds of bags from all of the airlines that land at Logan that need to be ID'd, matched up with claims, and sent out for delivery. Once the airline gets the bag ready for delivery it's handed over to a courier company that brings it from the airport to a central warehouse, where they divvy up the bags among the drivers they have and send them on their way. It can be a complicated process - and I know it firsthand from having worked baggage for a major airline at Logan for years.

Teena said...

Yeah, I understand that it must be complicated. But how does it happen in the first place that one of my bags made it onto the flight and the other one didn't?

Anonymous said...

When you check bags they're both given tags in sequence...but that doesn't mean they go onto the bag belt in sequence - especially if one of them is something that requires "special handling", like a cooler. So they will make it to the bag room at different times. Thus, they're likely loaded into different carts, and occasionally mistakes are made. If the cooler sat off to the side for a while it may have been accidentally left behind - all in the name of wanting to ensure that it wasn't damaged. This sort of thing happens with regular bags, too, in that they're not carried by the same pair of hands all the way from check-in to the cargo pit. Given how complex the system is, it's amazing that more mistakes don't occur.

Teena said...

Yeah, ok, the more I think on it the more it does seem like it must be tremendously complicated. And to be fair, this was the first time my baggage has ever been lost. With all the traveling I do, it's pretty amazing!