Seems like every time I encounter pastries in your house there's a partially-eaten specimen set to the side of the box or plate, half of a crumbly cookie or the remaining portion of a neatly sliced frosted doughnut. This abandoned half is the result of irrational self-deprivation, sugary collateral damage following the flare-up of a first-world personal struggle. Unless the assailant returns to eat the rest of the pastry, which seems never to happen, its fate is to be ignored by others, unsure of its history and unwilling to consume what another rejected. It will remain ostracized in the corner of its box or the far edge of its plate until it becomes stale and unattractive, doomed to be undeservedly discarded and enjoyed by none.
This is how life goes, more or less:
- You're born.
- Stuff occurs
- You die.
Some religions believe some stuff occurs prior to #1, and most believe some more stuff occurs after #3, but this post (and this blog in general) will deal primarily with #2 and how you choose to conduct your affairs while you either wait for, or stave off, #3. Really, #1 and #3 are pretty insignificant in spite of the gravity we assign them, because, as far as I can tell anyway, they occur instantaneously to the point that they're really just the start and end markers for #2 and probably don't deserve any real recognition, at least, not for the person experiencing them; one person's #1 or #3 will almost certainly carry weightier significance with respect to another person's #2.
A good #2 is not, as your Facebook feed would have you believe, a constant stream of amazingness. Typically you work work work, and periodically good things happen – you get an A on a difficult midterm following hours of rigorous studying, or you get a promotion and a raise after grinding for years at your job. If things go well, your basic needs will be met consistently and you'll live an otherwise uneventful life highlighted by periods of intense joy and happiness, the memories of which will fuel your spirit as you slog through the dull necessities of life.
Many people aren't fortunate enough to find happiness at all, their lives destroyed by inexplicable tragedies, events beyond their control, the unexpected onset of a lethal illnessor the sudden death of loved one. They are equally as undeserving of their sadness as the fortunate are of their happiness.
The point of this post is, I suppose, to tell you to stop stifling potential moments of happiness because you feel guilty doing something you enjoy, or rather, because you've conflated something you enjoy with something others feel you should not. Just eat the damn cookie. Life is hard enough. Don't place excess pressure on yourself to the point that you're limiting your pastry intake at the detriment of both your happiness and the pastry's right to be fully consumed. Don't deny the doughnut its destiny.
It's easy to convince someone of this. The world is flush with platitudes. Hakuna Matata. Don't worry, be happy. What's difficult for a person is when they're alone with a plate of cookies and their internal dialogue suppresses all outside reasoning.
The purpose of The Denial Cookie is to induce happiness without attempting the impossible task of infiltrating someone's unreasonable internal dialogue. For example, perhaps you really want to gorge on cookies, but you can only convince your inner voice to allow you three cookies before it loads your conscience with guilt. So, you could have three cookies…
…or you could have three cookies.
With The Denial Cookie, you can still say to yourself, “I'll just have one,” and it will sate your id without infringing upon your carefully formed psychological self-flagellation ritual. You could split it in half and still come away happy, but please make sure you return to finish the job or share with another person. That's a lot of cookie to waste.
The recipe is simply the classic Nestlé® Toll House® recipe with three minor changes:
1. I substitute 1¼ cup flour for two cups ground oatmeal. For the purpose of this cookie, it makes no difference – you could go with the original recipe if you like. This is just how you (Mom) used to make it when I was a kid, and is an example of the incidental taste preferences parents pass to their children. I add a larger volume of ground oatmeal because its density is lower than flour.
2. I make the cookies really big. You won't get five dozen out of this recipe.
3. Baking time is extended due to the size of the cookie.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups ground oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar. Jam it into the measuring cup to get more sugar, because life is short.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 to 2 cups chocolate chips. I usually prefer around 1.5 cups, but it's your life. Eat more chocolate if it makes you happy.
- 1 cup chopped nuts. The classic recipe doesn't clarify what kind of nut, but I've always used walnuts. I suppose you could use pistachios if you want. YOLO.
To begin, set the oven to preheat to 350° F (177° C). If you're fast at mixing ingredients, the oven will be ready when you are.
Add flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, chocolate, and nuts into an adequately sized bowl and mix 'em up.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then in a large bowl, mix 'em in with the butter, sugars, and vanilla. The picture below looks disgusting because I melted the butter into a puddle, which looks gross enough on its own, but when mixed with the brown sugar it becomes even more disgusting.
Add in the dry ingredients and stir all that up real good. Ahh yes, that looks better.
Now we’ve arrived at the second deviation from the recipe, which instructs you to “Drop (dough) by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.” We're going to grease up the sheet. With small cookies and their short cook time, the enormous quantity of butter provides sufficient non-stick functionality, but for The Denial Cookie, the lengthier cook time results in a crispier base (which I personally like), and causes the cookie to adhere to the tray, which can spell disaster when you attempt to remove the already unwieldy cookie. Use your favorite culinary anti-adhesive, Crisco, PAM, lard, whatever. It doesn't matter. I use coconut oil because it makes me feel good about myself.
Next, scoop up a handful of dough. Try to get a baseball to softball-sized amount. In my experience, the diameter of the cookie will be twice to 2.5 times the diameter of the dough ball.
Place it in the center of the lubricated cookie sheet. When I made The Denial Cookie for the first time, the primary issue I encountered was that the cookie didn't cook thoroughly. The middle remained doughy, and not the good kind of doughy that's basically just moist delicious cookie, but rather the salmonella kind, untinged by heat. So you're going to need to flatten your dough ball before you place the tray in the oven. It should be about one inch thick.
Leave it in the oven until the edges brown. Cooking times will vary depending on elevation and oven. In my experience, I’ve found that five minutes per dough-ball-diameter-inch is sufficient. A three-inch-diameter ball requires fifteen minutes, while a four incher requires twenty.
After you remove it from the oven, it's going to be fragile. If you attempt to remove it from the tray with a normal sized spatula it will almost certainly crumble. If you have a large spatula or are especially skilled at dual-wielding spatulas, remove The Denial Cookie from the tray and place it on a wire rack to cool, otherwise, leave it on the tray. In thirty minutes to one hour, three inchers will be structurally stable enough to hold with one hand. I’ve never made a four incher that could be held with one hand, though I’ve found adding one cup shredded coconut to the recipe can result in a The Denial Cookie that remains intact for about 50% more time.
There are several ways to accessorize your The Denial Cookie. Use your imagination. I like to decorate mine with smaller cookies, like little baby cookies traveling atop their mother’s back.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you enjoy it. Life's too short to eat only half a cookie.
Hope this helps.
Your loving son,