Rules are a big thing in our house these days.
Say "please" when you ask for something. Don't hit your brother/sister. Clean up what you're playing with before you can get a different toy. No Play-Doh in your mouth. Give your brother privacy while he poops.
While I'm the enforcer with the trio, sadly there was no one to play that role for me when I tackled a new cookie recipe.
I may not think of them as rules, but I definitely try to approach a new recipe methodically. When something flops in my house, I prefer it be due to picky toddler taste buds, not chef's error.
But I'm a busy mom. When I have an opportunity I have to take it if I want to get something done. Even if the circumstances aren't quite ideal. And they never are when the options are the kids' two-hour (on a good day) nap window, or at the end of a day spent with three two-year-olds.
Follow a recipe exactly the first time so you know how it was intended to turn out. Start off by baking just one sheet of cookies to figure out the correct timing (every oven is different) and shape before making the rest.
Racing against the clock, I broke my cardinal rules of cookie baking. I had my eye on the time, and my head…well, I'm still trying to find that.
When I heard the first cries of a waking child, I was exhausted. Two hours from start time, I had about 40 overdone cookies and a sink full of dirty dishes. This was definitely not the desired outcome.
I eyed the small bit of remaining cookie dough in the bowl. I contemplated throwing it all out, along with the 40 hockey pucks. But I couldn't just throw out $9 worth of Scharffen Berger chocolate. I learned from my mistakes. I was pretty sure I knew how to redeem myself.
So I baked them. And nine minutes later I had a sheet of 10 perfect cookies.
As a mother of three toddlers, I recognize there are few perfect 10s in my life right now. And even fewer three-out-of-threes. But I have to take any small victory I can. Even if I don't always follow my own rules, it's nice to know I can still trust my instincts.
Chocolate Oatmeal Drops
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 Tbsp water
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl and sprinkle over the 1 tablespoon water, then add the brown sugar, followed by the chocolate. Stir occasionally until everything is just melted. Don’t let the indgredients get so hot that the butter separates from the sugar and the chocolate, and don't be concerned if the mixture looks grainy.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs one at a time. The mixture will look shiny. Whisk in the dry ingredients, stirring only until they disappear into the dough. Stir in the oats. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each spoonful. Pat cookie dough balls slightly to flatten.
Bake for about 4 minutes, then rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, and bake for another 4-5 minutes, until the cookies are dark around the edges and just slightly soft in the middle. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. (If the cookies are difficult to lift from the baking sheet, wait a minute and try again.
Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.