Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Almost Famous

cookies, originally uploaded by emily loke.

There are few things as both simple and comforting as chocolate chip cookies – just the mention of them conjures memories of childhood days spent mucking around in the kitchen with my mom, who always made them oversized and with Smarties smiley faces. Sadly, because of her crazy work schedule, my mother’s batches of chocolate chip cookies were few and far between. It quickly became clear to me that I had to find another source of freshly baked cookies. I eventually did – ironically, on my way to a dentist appointment downtown.

My dentist’s office is (a little too conveniently) located smack above one of the most tempting cookie stores in the world. It’s not a very big store – really just a counter with a till fronting some large ovens – but it has the best advertising I’ve ever encountered. Their slogan, ‘Free Smells’, is not just a gimmicky catch phrase; it’s the real deal. The smell of baking chocolate chip cookies assaults you as you descend on the escalator to the basement level of the mall in question, and trails you, badgering you mercilessly should you attempt to ignore its beckoning. Resistance, in this case, is futile.

Advertising ploys aside, Famous Amos offers up the best commercially-made cookies I’ve ever had, hands-down. At this establishment, cookie dough has found its calling as a vehicle for chocolate chips, as opposed to mere filler material. Each tiny cookie is full of chocolate, not that I would complain if they weren’t – the dough that holds them together is nothing short of perfection on its own. Here, cookies are sold by weight and shoveled into little bags which are then taped shut, as if to discourage immediate gorging. Their sneaky tape trick, by the way, does not work on me.

Though you may be able to get them in boxes or bags at grocery stores around the world, Famos Amos cookies just don’t taste the same unless they’re eaten fresh, right out of the store’s oven, after you’ve been following your nose through the mall looking for the source of the smell for ages. The only way to enjoy a similar sensory experience, I find, is to bake them yourself. The list of ingredients may appear daunting to those who are used to making their cookies with the basic cookie recipe or (shudder) from Pillsbury sludge, but I assure you that your efforts will be well worth it. Over a hundred of these cookies disappeared from my cookie jar in a single day, and I doubt the results will differ much in your household.

Famous Amos No-Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar; packed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 cup Bisquick
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup non-fat milk powder
2 tbs Sanka
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbs vanilla essence
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream butter.
2. Beat in sugars, beat till the mixture is as creamy as possible.
3. Beat in eggs.
4. Beat in all other ingredients except chocolate chips, and mix till combined.
5. Toss in chocolate chips, and work them in with a spatula till distributed evenly.
6. Drop by half-teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, one inch apart.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe makes 12 dozen teeny-tiny crunchy cookies. Halving the recipe is perfectly fine, but if you choose to go the whole hog, you can freeze the extra dough for up to 4 months.