Most families I know have a favourite dish or dessert that is iconic, legendary in their kitchen, and that represents to them the epitome of nostalgia, good taste, and family togetherness. In the Weiss Family, the undisputed symbol of Weiss-ness is the Toll House cookie. (the THC).
My mother was ahead of her time in her divine perfection of the Toll House cookie, or, as they are more plebeianly known, the chocolate chip cookie.
Years before gourmet chocolate chip cookies made their appearance, Mom’s cookies were famous in our neighbourhood as the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth treat. If she’d opened a stand then, we’d be millionaires now.
And as with any special recipe, method is essential. Make a double batch whenever possible, as the texture improves slightly with the doubling. Cover the baking tray with aluminum foil. Press down gently on the top of each glop of cookie dough to assure the best shape. And above all, take the cookies out of the oven when they are slightly underdone, soft and almost gooey. I still have the handwritten recipe Mom wrote out for me on the back of an envelope years ago, and take it out, like a talisman, just to see her handwriting again when I make a batch.
Mom’s recipe has worked its way down through my generation to my daughters, and now my granddaughters and remains as popular as ever, even today. When our kids were teens and had a group over, I made hot, just-out-of-the-oven cookies and served them up, usually until the last one was gone. Warm cookies have a very short plate life.
As I mix the dough with a wooden spoon, sniff and measure the vanilla, and spoon out each cookie, I’m often immersed in the Zen of cookie making, the particular steps that I take, a ritual so familiar that it gives deep comfort and reassures me the world is moving forward as it should. We need that kind of comfortable repetition of a traditional recipe that links us to our past, our childhood, our family. I think it’s called comfort food. In our family, it’s also called love.
Does your family have a traditional family favourite? I’d love to hear about it.
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