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9.19.2006

OOOOO - klahoma!

I had been needing a change of scenery, and this weekend, boy, did I ever get one.


I also got a steak and a soufflé; an engagement party with fifty longtime family friends, a few pork tenderloins with pistachio chutney, and an enormous mocha fudge cake; a ring that once belonged to my great-grandmother Millicent; and a four-and-a-half-day weekend with family old and new. Oklahoma, you may be flatter than a pancake, but you sure know how to throw a party. From now on, I’m going to get engaged a lot more often.

Last Thursday, while most of North America was sleeping—at 3:30 am, to be precise—Brandon and I hopped a shuttle to SeaTac. A few hours later, we arrived at Will Rogers World Airport—though the “world” part is a bit optimistic, if you ask me—ready for a weekend of festivities, with a suitcase containing five chocolate bars and a pound of coffee for my mother, a lacy black dress for me, and for Brandon, a (gorgeous! 12-dollar!) green vintage suit. [Oklahoma may have lots of oil, but some things have to be imported.] My mother met us at the baggage claim, and from there, the rest of our stay brought a very busy, very welcome onslaught of family and friends, and even a shockingly good falafel sandwich.

Going home is a strange sensation. It’s a little like stepping into a warm swimming pool: something familiar and safe and inviting, but also not entirely of my element. It was good to be home, to hear the crickets and cicadas and the benevolent roar of the air conditioner in my old bedroom, and to fall asleep in mid-afternoon in my father’s armchair. I can still navigate the streets without a thought, although the prayer on the front page of the daily newspaper does give me pause. Oklahoma City is still my hometown, even if it does strike me as kind of a strange place. It always has. But if this city loves you, it lets you know. It remembers the poems you wrote for the school literary magazine when you were sixteen. It gets teary-eyed when it talks about your dad. It pinches your fiancé’s dimples. And sometimes, it’s awfully hard to leave.

To everyone who celebrated with us this weekend, thank you. Please accept this cookie recipe as a belated party favor from two devoted Seattlites. We’ll be back soon.



Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Apricots and Espresso
Adapted from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook

Given all the regulations on liquids, gels, lotions, creams, soups, sauces, and other sort-of-solids, few foods can slip past the security checkpoint these days. Brandon managed to sneak hummus on board by camouflaging it under a nubbly cloak of toasted pine nuts, and I got away with a Tupperware of ratatouille and a boiled egg, but otherwise, the airplane is a pretty desperate place where food is concerned. Quite handily, however, cookies are one of the few items that seem to be a safe bet. I packed a baggie of these on Thursday morning, stashed them in my bag, and got them on board without skipping a beat. Phew.


Tender and chewy, they make a perfect traveling companion: warm with the flavor of ground espresso beans and chunky with chocolate chips and dried apricots, they satisfy a handful of cravings in one fell swoop, which is very useful when you’re several thousand feet up, and with only beverage service. The recipe comes from Macrina Bakery, one of the best bakeries in Seattle. Although I love popping into their First Avenue storefront for a cookie, these are simple enough to make that it’s almost easier to go home and preheat the oven. Anyway, the cookies from the bakery sometimes taste too sweet, but my homemade ones are always spot-on, thanks to my rigorous quality-control measures in the form of, um, frequent dough sampling.

Should you pack a few for your next trip, I recommend asking your flight attendant for one of those tiny cartons of milk to drink alongside. Or, on second thought, if you’re trying to save some for family or friends at the other end of the flight, maybe you’d better not. Oklahoma, I’m so sorry. We ate them all. But I did bring you the recipe.



A few words about ingredients:

Note that the apricots called for here are unsulfured. Because of that, they don’t have the pretty, pale orange color that more common sulfured apricots do. Instead, they’re a sort of deep brown. I don’t mind, but if you would prefer orangey apricots, feel free to use them. Also, about the espresso beans: their flavor is quite mild here – more of a supporting player than a star – so if you want something stronger, you might play with upping the amount of ground espresso beans by, say, a quarter of a teaspoon at a time. I like them as is, but Brandon thought a bit more espresso would be nice.

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp finely ground espresso beans
10 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
¾ cup unsulfured dried apricots, diced
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso. Stir with a whisk until well mixed. Add chocolate chips and apricots, and mix well with a spoon. [Adding the apricot bits at this stage and coating them with flour helps to keep them from sticking to one another.] Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and sugars. Using the paddle attachment (or the regular beaters of your handheld mixer), mix on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, fluffy, and pale in color about 5 minutes. Add 1 egg, and mix to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; then add the remaining egg and the vanilla extract. Continue mixing until incorporated, about 1 minute. The batter should look very fluffy, almost like frosting. Remove the bowl from the mixer, if using, and scrape down its sides again.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold half of the dry ingredients into the batter. After the first half is fully incorporated, add the second, and continue folding until all of the flour has been absorbed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 days. [I made a few cookies after 1 hour, but I saved most of the dough for the next day. The dough that chilled longer made for a chewier, chunkier cookie, like the ones pictured above.]

When you are ready to bake the cookies, position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scoop hunks of dough out of the bowl—I used a medium-size spring-loaded ice cream scoop—and roll them into fat, 2-inch balls. Place 8 balls on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each ball. Place the remaining dough in the refrigerator while the first batch bakes.

Bake cookies for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and slightly soft in the center. To help them bake evenly, rotate the baking sheet every four minutes. When the cookies are ready, remove the pan from the oven, and carefully slide the sheet of parchment paper and its cookies onto a countertop, cutting board, or cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, if you can possibly wait, before eating. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough.

Note: Cooled cookies will keep in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 3 days at room temperature. Brandon, my live-in Heloise, taught me to put a paper towel in the container or bag with them, and I find that it helps to regulate humidity and keep their good, chewy texture intact. These cookies also freeze well.

Yield: About 20 cookies, give or take a few tastes of raw dough for the baker

33 Comments:

Blogger Garrett said...

Congrats! Enjoy all these moments that will be amazing memories for you to cherish!

3:21 PM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger kickpleat said...

being engaged is awesome! even though i've been married for over a year, i still forget and still think we're dating, as hardly refer to him as my husband. oops!

it sounds like you had a wonderful time back home with lots of good family, friends and food. as it should be. and your cookies look delicious. mmm.

4:25 PM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Lia said...

I have to second what Kickpleat said -- being engaged really is so fun and it's wonderful celebrating this amazing time with friends and family.

As for your cookies, you don't mess around when it comes to sweets! These ones sound particularly amazing. I can't wait to try them out.

6:50 PM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Lydia said...

This recipe is such a nice twist on good old Toll House cookies. What a lovely "party favor" to share with your family and friends!

8:08 PM, September 19, 2006  
Anonymous anna maria said...

I just posted a comment on the beautiful piece you wrote for the second anniversary of your father's death, but I wanted to mention another little connection we have in common, besides the tribute to parents on our blogs. One is that many years ago I moved from southern Italy straight to Oklahoma, Guthrie to be precise, and the other is that I have been visiting Seattle about 3 times a year for the past 20, and I love it! Macrina's is great and the Dahlia bakery's not bad either...
Your cookies sound out of this world, and congratulations on the engagement!

10:59 PM, September 19, 2006  
Anonymous Ellie said...

The cookies look divine - I'm glad to hear that your engagement party was such a wonderful and memorable occasion surrounded by loved ones :)

6:35 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

My parents in law went to OU and the Father is SO upset that his beloved Sooners lost...would've thought that someone ran over his dog. This from the mild mannered guy who now lives in Bainbridge lol

6:50 AM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Luisa said...

Yes, the cookies look gorgeous, but, um, a black lace dress and a 12 dollar suit? I'd far prefer to see pix of them! Please! ;)

7:21 AM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous J. Bo said...

Ah! Thanks so much for the recipe and high-flying endorsement! My boy is crazy for cookies, chocolate, dried apricots AND coffee, so this is going into the rotation immediately if not sooner.

P.S. The doughnut muffins, by the way? HUGE repeat hit! I most recently did mini-muffin versions and rolled them in cinnamon sugar... you'd have thought I'd discovered fire and invented the wheel all in the same day.

7:55 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger foodiechickie said...

So glad you had a lovely time!

8:02 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger s'kat said...

Hooray for a mouth-watering recipe, and the continuation of my favourite story of 2006!

9:58 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

You must have had so much fun! I got married on March 19th and engaged 6 months prior to that. It was the most fun, most whirlwind, most amazing time. Seeing our families being so thrilled for us was actually the most memorable thing about my wedding. What I remember most about standing on the "altar" (we got married on the beach in Florida) was looking out and seeing everyone just beaming at us. Congratulations to you both!

11:40 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, Garrett!

Kickpleat, I love that you slip and think that you and Cornelius are still dating! We should always "court" the person that we love - married or not - you know? I think you've got the right idea.

It's funny, Lia - we've been engaged for almost six months now, but this was our first real chance to celebrate with family and old friends, and it felt so, so good. For me, being engaged is such an important social and personal process, and it feels wonderful to mark it with the people that I love. And as for the cookies, they're pretty wonderful too, if I do say so myself.

Thank you, Lydia! I love these cookies, so I just had to share.

So interesting, anna maria - fathers, Oklahoma, and now Seattle! And I see that you live in San Francisco now - is that right? If so, that's one more thing that we share. My mother's twin sister lives in Marin, so I spent a lot of time there as a kid, and I went to college at Stanford, so the Bay Area was my first real "home" after leaving Oklahoma. I love it there. If we don't wind up staying in Seattle - or moving to New York, maybe, or somewhere else, or going to Europe, or [insert other dreamy place here] - Brandon and I would love to live in San Francisco one of these days.

Thank you, Ellie!

Wheresmymind, your father-in-law can commiserate with my brother David. He watched the Oregon game on Saturday and, needless to say, was pretty peeved.

Luisa, I know! Quite an oversight on my part, I must admit. We were running a little late in getting dressed for the party, and by the time I had finished trying to tame my hair, the first guests were arriving. I left my camera upstairs as I ran down to greet people, and as a result, there are no pictures of the party whatsoever! Ooof. My apologies. Maybe I can talk Brandon into getting snazzed up again and taking pictures in our bathroom mirror?

J. Bo, these cookies really are delicious, and the dough is beautiful, too. Really fluffy and creamy and fun to work with. [Maybe that sounds a little strange, but I really love a nice dough.] And as for those mini doughnut muffins, what genius! I registered for a mini-muffin pan, so maybe as of next July, I'll be able to try a batch...

Thank you, foodiechickie!

Amen, s'kat - hooray for cookies and parties and reasons to celebrate! And as for the continuation of our story, it's been a little slow in coming, since our wedding isn't until next summer, but something tells me that, come spring, it will gain momentum...

Julie, I love the sound of your wedding - so lovely, and so happy! There's something about weddings that brings out the best in a lot of us. For me, one of the most fun parts about all of this is seeing how happy our families and friends are to see us together. Not to be cheesy about it, but there's something about this kind of happiness that is contagious, don't you think?

3:39 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Catherine said...

What a great post! love the pix, too.

11:01 PM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly - I just ordered the new paperback version of the Macrina cookbook (said to have new recipes) as I have had the hardback version on permanent borrowing status from the library. I love the book! The chocolate cake is incredibly awesome - and great counterpart to maple buttercream frosting as i've had on their cupcakes in the bakery. Tell me if you've tried other recipes you love. And again, happy engagement!

LAA

4:38 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger rai said...

Hi Mollie- Wow, Oklahoma looks even flatter than Iowa ;) Check out my Aug. 23 post from home. It's always bittersweet to be home...maybe some bittersweet chocolate nuggets are more apropos? and possibly delicious.

9:55 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I've certainly never considered the use of sulfur before when using (or eating) dried apricots.

As something of a natural food fanatic, that's a big oversight on my part, and something I'll have to keep in mind for the future.

8:15 PM, September 22, 2006  
Anonymous leslie said...

Better late than never...I'm just catching up with you for the last couple of weeks. The cookie timing is great as I'm getting ready to try a batch in my very tiny kitchen! I'll let you know how they turn out. (By the way, the tomato tart - delicieux! I'm still tweaking my other tomato tart version, but this was a fabulous place-holder!)

As to Oklahoma: my father is from Oklahoma. He is a very dear man...a lovely soul. I can see the Oklahoma you are describing in him. Thank you.
L

12:22 AM, September 23, 2006  
Blogger pat barford said...

Mmmmmm. Cookies are baking as I type. They are too fantastic! The espresso is an inspired addition and one I'm likely to use in other cookies to come. I'm on my first batch and already the fam. has asked for more.

1:39 PM, September 23, 2006  
Anonymous bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

Of course, once more Molly, congratulations. I bet it must have been an exciting emotional moment, being back at home! And you are brave to have sneaked in ratatouille. These rules are indeed dirupting our usual travel food plans too!

4:29 AM, September 25, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, Catherine!

LAA, my friend, you're always on top of the local bakery beat! I had no idea that there was a new-and-improved paperback edition in the works! Whenever you get yours, you'll have to tell me what you think - pretty please? And in the meantime, try the ginger-pear upside-down cake in the original hardcover - it's so good, and just the thing for fall. I wrote about it here.

Rai, it sounds as though we could be from the very same place! I hear you about the central AC and counter space - when I'm in Oklahoma, I revel in both. Ah, the cool and the counters!

I know - isn't it weird, Scott? Most dried fruits are treated with sulfur dioxide as a preservative, to improve their color and shelf life. Some people think that it gives the fruit a chemical-y taste, but I have to admit that I can't really detect it. Still, I try to choose unsulfured apricots, etc., because I figure the fewer manmade chemicals I eat, the better, right? It sounds as though you might agree.

Merci bien, Leslie - I'm so glad to hear of your success with the tomato tart! Now, about the cookies, you'd better keep me posted. What did you think of them? And as for Oklahoma, what a lovely coincidence about your father! He sounds like a dear. You must love him very much.

That makes me so happy, Pat! I really love these cookies - and I'm glad to hear that you and yours do too.

Bea, I tell you, those security regulations are really putting a kink in my usual travel routine. Argh. Maybe by the time I travel again - for Thanksgiving - things will have changed? We'll see. In the meantime, yes, you're right: going home this time was surprisingly emotional. There was something about the convergence of a birthday and a big, exciting change on the horizon of my life that made me feel very thoughtful. A lot of good things to think about...

11:04 PM, September 25, 2006  
Anonymous Mandy said...

What a sweet post Molly. It seems to want to be a longer piece. Are you publishing?

I think all marrieds would like to be engaged again.

Cheers!

11:01 AM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Mahek said...

hi
i am mahek from india
your cookies seem to be so tasty
i would love to make them but its difficult to find certain ingredients like brown sugar and many others
can you give me a chocochip cookie recipe using flour,sugar,butter,chochlate chips eggs so if there are more pls tell and also if you liked it.
bye
mahek

12:24 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, Mandy! And you're right - this piece did, in a way, want to be longer, but many of my thoughts and emotions about the weekend were just for me, and not for sharing. I couldn't resist writing up the cookie recipe, though, and a few thoughts along with it...

Mahek, that's a tricky problem. Hmmm, no brown sugar? Most chocolate chip cookie recipes I've tried call for brown sugar, unfortunately. My current favorite recipe is this one by my fellow food blogger Debbie. You could, I imagine, try it without brown sugar (using regular sugar instead), but the flavor would be a little different, and the texture will be a little less soft and chewy. If there is anything similar to brown sugar in India, try using it - I made chocolate chip cookies in France, where "American-style" brown sugar can be hard to come by, and I wound up using a French sugar that came awfully close. Good luck!

12:47 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Janice said...

I've been eagerly planning to make these cookies ever since you posted the recipe. Finally, the dough is resting in the fridge until tomorrow. I literally had one tiny bite of it and was instantly convinced that this is destined to be one of my favorite cookie recipes ever. Mmm!

Glad you are reveling in all the joy of being engaged!

11:31 AM, October 07, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

I know, Janice, isn't the dough delicious? I could have eaten it out of the fridge all night long - and well, I kind of did. Oh my. Hope you had a little left for baking...

10:38 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger John-Michael said...

molly, that was a nice and kind entry about oklahoma. i found a past copy of LOGOS to read what we were doing at 16. grad studies in arizona have been exceptionally rewarding. i met someone this summer and was swept willingly off my feet! best to you with your endeavors.

10:52 PM, October 13, 2006  
Blogger Fran said...

Congratulations on the engagement. Loved your post & had a good laugh about the airport--I'm originally from OKC too. Oklahoma is a wonderful place to be from--Cookies sound great.

1:45 PM, October 15, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

John-Michael, you are one heck of a brave man to go back through an old Logos! I applaud you. And congratulations on all your good news! I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying your grad program, and that you're swoony about a special someone! All my best to both of you.

Thank you, Fran!

11:12 PM, October 24, 2006  
Anonymous joysbox said...

hey, I was just searching for apricots and saw the post. Being from Oklahoma, I had to read your blog! Congrats and I am glad that you were able to feel at home back in OKC.

9:03 AM, December 26, 2006  
Blogger BaL said...

A note about unsulfured apricots:

They are called "sun-dried apricots" here in Turkey (of course in Turkish lol).

I guess it's a common name for all naturally dried fruits and vegetables.

I love sundried apricots as they have a bake-y, chocolate-y, and healthy taste, too.

1:36 AM, December 30, 2008  
Anonymous Aprille O'Neill-Kemp said...

Awesome cookies. I just found the recipe and am making them for a second time tonight. Being a coffee fanatic, I upped the espresso to 2 tsp (!) and used a med-roast (Stumptown) coffee so the flavor still stayed sweet but not overwhelming. Thanks for the recipe!!

6:31 PM, May 15, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used candied lemon peel rather than dried apricots. I will definitely be making these again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

4:03 PM, September 15, 2013  

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