Posted by: Erin | April 22, 2009

Spontaneous Baking

The first Harry Potter movie was on TV the other night, and for some reason, I felt compelled to watch it, despite the fact that I have seen it about 19 times, and I own the DVD. So instead of watching the DVDs I purposely picked up at the BPL for the long weekend, I watched a slightly cut down version of Harry Potter WITH COMMERCIALS.

And for reasons I don’t understand, this compelled me to bake cookies. A few years ago, my parents gave me a copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything: The Basics. I don’t use it for much, recipe-wise, but I figured there had to be a chocolate chip cookie recipe in there. (Normally, I look on Cooking Light’s website for recipes, but I tried a chocolate chip cookie recipe from there a few months ago, and it did not go well. This was probably my own fault, but I couldn’t remember which recipe it was, and I didn’t want to repeat the baking fail.)

Fortunately, the recipe was simple and didn’t call for 6 pounds of butter. I halved the recipe, since I only wanted to make a few cookies, and I tried my newly discovered method for softening butter. I always forget to take butter out of the fridge before I bake, and I used to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, but that usually resulted in some of it melting, and I’ve recently realized that softened butter and melted butter probably don’t do the same thing in a recipe. Last time I baked, I left a stick of butter on the stovetop, next to a pot of water I was boiling to make part of my dinner. It was surprsingly effective, but here’s the key: you have to pay attention and flip the stick of butter over every couple of minutes, or it’ll soften unevenly. (Also, put it on something, like a paper towel, because if you forget about it for too long, it will start to melt, and make a mess on your stovetop.)

As I was reading through the recipe, I noticed a note at the end, saying that you could substitute a number of things for chocolate chips, once the batter was completed. Suggestions included raisins, chopped nuts, and coconut. It occurred to me that I have a good amount of shredded organic unsweetened coconut from my pre-Christmas baking spree. I added roughly one cup of the coconut to the batter, along with the chocolate chips. If nothing else, it made the kitchen smell fabulous while baking.


The dough spread as the cookies baked, and browned around the edges before the center, so I wonder if I should have made the dough drops flatter when I put them on the cookie sheet. On the whole, the cookies came out pretty well – they needed more chocolate (because, duh, everything is better with chocolate!), and maybe a little more coconut. Or perhaps if I’d used sweetened coconut, the flavor would have been more pronounced. The taste is still there, and I was using what I had, so it worked out fine, but if I try these again when I have sweetened coconut around, I’ll switch it up and see what happens.



  1. Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

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