It's a personality thing, I'm afraid, but I'm simply one of those people who rarely shouts, "Eureka!" and feels, deep in her bones, that she has threaded the needle just so. I waver, waffle, and turn each choice over like a precious stone, staring at it long and hard to suss out the tiniest crack, the faintest imperfection. And you know something? If you look hard enough, you'll always find a blemish. You will. Every time.
I envy people who are not like this. Who instead grab decisions by the horns, wrestle them to the ground, and stand atop them like conquering heroes. When a what-if surfaces, when a doubt bubbles up, they stomp it out like a smoldering cigarette and continue apace, never missing a beat.
Interestingly, the one place I don't waver is in the kitchen. I know what I like to eat, and that's pretty much that. Yes, my tastes have evolved over time. I go through phases and stages and jigs and jags, but give me something to eat, let me roll it around on my tongue, and I'll tell you sure as day whether it works for me.
Right now, oversweet doesn't work for me. I love cookies, pastries, cakes, and pies, but for whatever reason -- maybe the state of the world? -- I'm not in a pink fluffy frosting kind of mood. I want my treats dark and brooding, with more depth than sparkle. Just this side of sweet, and not a whisper more.
So I take my favorite recipes, and whittle the sugar down bit by bit by bit, so the scale just barely tips, so the needle hardly flutters. I thread it slowly, hitting the sweet spot just so.
Recipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Slice and Bake Cookies
I'm a big fan of cookie logs. Storing the dough this way makes it exceptionally easy to slice and bake cookies in smaller quantities. Store the logs for several days in the fridge, or overwrap the plastic in foil and freeze until needed.
Keep in mind that these cookies don't spread, so if you don't want them at thick as you see in the photo, slice them thinner and dial down the bake-time accordingly. I personally like them thick and cakey like you see. They become almost brownie-like.
Adapted from myself. I contributed a sweeter version of this recipe to Lora Brody's The New England Table (Chronicle Books) back in 2005.
Makes 4-1/2 dozen cookies, or more, if you slice them thinner
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups unsweetened, desiccated coconut
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Sift the flour, soda, salt, and cocoa into a medium bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and blend just until incorporated. Gently beat in the coconut and chocolate chips just until incorporated.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly flour board and divide in half. Using your hands, roll each half into a long, snake-like log about 1-1/2" in diameter, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Set on the back of a baking sheet (to help keep their shape) and place in the fridge until firm.
When ready to bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment. With a sharp, thin knife, slice the log at 1/2" intervals and set the disks 12 to a sheet. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. The cookies should be firmish to the touch and lose their raw sheen, but they won't look as "baked" as regular cookies. Cool, serve, and store extras airtight.
I've selected Natalie as the winner of my Blood, Bones & Butter giveaway. Thanks sincerely to everyone who participated. Given how thoughtful and endearing your comments were, choosing a winner was tougher this time than ever. Do let me know if you read the book...