I know it sounds strange but that’s what we called our father’s mother — Grandma Cookie. Whenever she came to visit, she’d arrive from Pittsburgh by plane. I still remember her walking toward us in her high heels — (she always wore heels, even at the beach). She’d be carrying two cookie tins, one filled with lemon squares and the other with perfect little shortbread circles, dabbed with jam and topped with a whole pecan. It was this ritual that resulted in her name, which must have been given long before I was born. I never questioned it or even thought it was that unusual. Why would I? She was the grandma who always brought us cookies.
What I would later learn is that my grandmother didn’t have the slightest idea how to bake a batch of cookies or anything else for that matter. All those years her housekeeper, Louise, had been baking the cookies to bring to us. I know, it shouldn’t have been such a big deal. But it was her name, after all. My disappointment came because I always longed for a grandma who would tie an apron on me, put me up on a chair and give me a wooden spoon to help her stir the dough, letting me lick it clean when we were done.
I have long since forgiven Grandma Cookie for not living up to my expectations. The truth is, she could knit argyle socks flawlessly and lived mostly on her own until she died at 98.
If we grow up with perfect parents or grandparents, we often try to be the same for our children. If we aren’t so lucky, some of us bend over backwards to be the ones we wished we had ourselves. That would be me. The only problem is, until very recently I never had much success baking cookies myself. I’m not sure what my problem was, but I could blame it on my genes. It was particularly unfortunate because I’m completely addicted to chocolate cookies. I have to have at least one a day or who knows what might happen. A few weeks ago, the baker at Whole Foods told me they were discontinuing their vegan chocolate cookies, not that I’m a vegan, but they had become my drug of choice. I realized the time had come for me to try baking cookies again. Besides, I had agreed to bring some to our show opening. How bad would it look for a local food blogger to bring store bought cookies?
I went to Orangette and found a wonderful recipe for Chewy Cocoa Cookies that are rich and chocolatey, not too sweet and best of all, my first two batches turned out perfectly. Thanks to Molly Wizenberg for helping me save face, not only as a food blogger but also as a grandma. Here’s her version of a recipe adapted from Alice Medrich, which by the way, was so good, I’ve hardly changed a thing.
Chewy Cocoa Cookies
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/8 t salt
4T unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 light brown sugar
7T unsweetened cocoa powder (Dagoba makes some in Ashland, OR)
1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1t vanilla extract
1/4 cup bitter or semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Add the sugars and sift in the cocoa powder. Stir to blend well. Add yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and stir just to combine. Add the chocolate chips and nuts and stir.
Drop by tablespoons on the baking sheet. You will be able to fit about 10 on a baking sheet pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the tops crack and look set. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack.
These cookies reportedly keep well (unless you happen to have a serious chocolate cookie addiction, then you may never find out).