Tricounty News

Cookie baker, or eater – which are you?

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who bake homemade cookies, and those who eat them.

Sadly, I think those in the first group are in danger of extinction. Not many people take the time to bake cookies anymore.

Take me, for instance. My kids think “homemade” cookies come preformed in a plastic package in the refrigerator. Try not to judge; I make it up to them in other ways.

This morning I spent time in the kitchen with two friends who are part of the endangered species of cookie bakers. Somehow, I corralled them into teaching me the art of cookie creation. I went with the goal of gaining valuable information about baking. Plus, I was hoping to score some free cookies.

The recipe we used calls for butter at room temperature. I don’t know about you, but I store my butter in the refrigerator. I couldn’t imagine thinking ahead to take the butter out just to soften it, so I asked about heating it in the microwave. You would’ve thought I’d suggested adding cyanide. Both friends gave me a chilling, stare, and I knew not to mention the microwave ever again.

I was learning already.

Luckily, cookie bakers routinely think about things like taking the butter out hours before making their cookies. One of my friends had gotten up early to take the butter out of the fridge. It’s details like that that separate real cookie bakers from the rest of us.

Next, a bunch of regular baking ingredients got mixed with the butter – sugar, flour, an egg, chocolate chips. In an attempt to recover from my microwave faux pas, I tried to think of an intelligent question, and asked if the egg should be at room temperature. If looks could kill, my friends would be assassins.

Butter warm. Eggs cold. Got that.

I had forewarned my friends about my complete lack of cookie baking knowledge, but I think I impressed them nonetheless. They gave each other another look when I asked if it was really necessary to preheat the oven. Apparently so. Shoot me for asking.

The morning was educational. I learned about cookies and my friends. They had tips and techniques that set them apart from ordinary folks like me. It takes a lot of patience to bake a flawless cookie, and I’m not just talking about sitting around waiting for butter to reach room temperature.

I learned that real cookie bakers are perfectionists. Not only do they preheat the oven, they count the chocolate chips to make sure that each cookie has at least five. Uniformity of size is also paramount. Both friends admitted to throwing away cookies that didn’t fit the size requirement.

This last fact stopped me dead in my tracks. The thought of cookies in the garbage made me shudder, and I realized that even if I did learn to bring butter to room temperature the right way, I’d probably never, ever be able to toss my cookies – even if they didn’t have enough chips or were unevenly browned. When it comes to baking cookies, it’s obvious that I’ll never be a member of the elite batch.

As we ended our baking session, I came back to the universal truth: There are two kinds of people on this planet. A few special and virtuous souls are born to bake cookies. The rest of us are put on this earth to eat them.

This morning, as I bit into my first perfectly round, perfectly baked, five-chip monument to the cookie world, it didn’t feel like such a bad place to be.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” You can read more columns at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.