The end of the semester had arrived, so that meant it was time to bake cookies for someone, right? The last time I did this for co-workers, I was coming to an end of my time working at the East Side Food Court. Finished, because I would be leaving for Australia in a few weeks. But the end of the semester is an end of sorts for some part-time co-workers, and I thought they deserved a treat.
Also, I was trying to figure out how to do something nice for the grad students, or the regulars that we enjoy talking to the most. I never expected my time at the cafe to be half as interesting as it turned out. Mainly because I hadn’t thought I would make friends or enjoy the social interaction so much. So, trying to include them was my way of saying thank you for making my job not just bearable, but fun.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just hand out cookies to every student that came through, or play favorites. So, my strategy would end up being directed at giving a large bag of Mrs. Fields cookies to a friend in the chem department, and she would drop them off where the grad students could find them. Because most of my acquaintances were in that department, it seemed to work out. I also didn’t tell my co-workers (with one exception) that I was hiding a HUGE bag of cookies under my register, waiting for one of the girls to arrive. If I’d told them, the bag might’ve disappeared when my back was turned, they liked the cookies THAT much.
I had even decided it would be “safer” to hand off the bag to a girl in the chem department, because there’s no chance that any female will hoard that many cookies, because she’ll be worried about her waistline. Aren’t we all? But I wasn’t sure if one of the guys might hoard them, for himself or his buddies, so I knew I’d decided correctly on who would make the “hand-off”.
Mrs. Fields Cookies
375°, 8 min
(convect: 350°, 6 min)
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups oatmeal, blended (5 cups before blending)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
24 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 oz milk chocolate bar (grated)
3 cups chopped nuts (optional)
Cream butter, sugars, eggs, & vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Grate chocolate bar into the dry mixture. Add wet mixture to the dry, and stir with a wooden spoon. Add chocolate chips (and nuts, if you want) last. Roll into balls (golf-ball sized, or smaller). Serves 6 dozen.
Notes: Previous to this, I have made these cookies by adding the grated chocolate at the end, with the chocolate chips. But at my mom’s suggestion, grating it directly into the flour helped with both the melting chocolate and getting the chocolate mixed evenly throughout the recipe. Also, this is a large recipe, so even with our large mixer, you have to eventually mix them in a bowl. And at the end, we mix the chocolate chips in with our hands. The wooden spoon won’t even do it, at that point.
This recipe isn’t really that hard to make. It took me a little longer than usual, perhaps, because I was so busy taking pictures in between each step. I’ve even blogged about it before, but that would be asking you to dig back two years, looking for the recipe. And grating the chocolate into the flour really did make it a lot easier.
I remembered how I couldn’t make this recipe in Australia, or anything that called for semi-sweet chocolate chips, because I could never find semi-sweet chocolate over there. How odd is that? But the milk chocolate really can be too sweet, and dark chocolate would be very rich. I’ve never liked milk chocolate nonpareils, for example, because they’re just SO sweet. But the semi-sweet ones are perfect.
While grating the chocolate bar, and trying to not grate my fingers in the process, I had to eat a few small pieces that just wouldn’t be grated. And I thought they would be improved by being included in a s’more, but not eating the whole bar plain.
There’s something about baking late at night, when most of the house has gone to bed or doesn’t have any need for being in the kitchen. I was able to crank up the music on my Kindle, and just have a good time. Of course, Matt was bored, so he volunteered to help me mix up the final batch of dough, after everything was in. And who wouldn’t want to lick the beaters, after running all that sugar and butter through it? I suppose we should worry about salmonella, but we never have.
The funny thing is that after I finished baking, I realized I hadn’t eaten a scrap of the raw dough, after it was all stirred up. We normally eat as much cookie dough as we can get, preferring it to the cookies themselves. But I was too busy counting how many cookies were on each tray, and trying to not make them too big, and run out of dough.
Because though I know about 15-20 grad students by name, I know there are a LOT more of them in the department across the street. I wanted to make sure more than my acquaintances were able to have some. They all work hard and deserve a treat after two hard semesters of research and teaching labs, wouldn’t you say?
My family has a convection oven, so we use the shorter time for baking, and less heat, obviously. But you still want to keep a close eye on them. By the time the dough had softened up a bit, I was baking them for around 6.5 minutes, and trying to make sure they didn’t get browned much at all. We like our cookies soft, at my house, so only the teeniest bit of brown is allowed to show up on them. But some of the tops were looking a bit underdone, so I started to press down on the cookies, just a bit, before putting them in the oven. Mrs. Fields cookies don’t spread out like snickerdoodles, so I wanted them to bake a little more evenly, from top to bottom.
I was very happy to find that after all the insanity of counting them, making sure there were enough, and finding a suitable delivery person, the cookies went over really well. When do cookies ever NOT go over well? But I was pleased that I cheered up finals week for some of the chem people. Even if some of them told me they “never go in the grad students’ lounge”. Their loss, if they didn’t get any cookies.