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Butter + sugar + heat = bliss

I’ve not cooked a meal since last Sunday. And that was pasta.

Between assembling, reheating, and opening takeout containers, I’ve not had to do any “real” cooking, as in I’ve not turned on a burner or the oven. True, the 33°C temperatures may have a bit to do with my recent affinity for salads, but still, how lovely it is to be able to throw together a meal with such wonderful produce at hand, great restaurants nearby, and lovely family members all too willing to cook.

I’ve had the privilege of considering cooking a luxury – not a necessity or a chore, but an activity I could choose to do when the spirit so moved me.

I finally turned the oven on this evening, and for nothing short of a worthy cause; baking. The ultimate in indulgence, baking sweets speaks immediately to images of celebration, of comfort and of joy.

Baking always seems alchemy to me; the magic process of taking ingredients, combining them in a certain order in specific proportions, exposing this creation to heat — and voilà, a result much greater than the sum of its parts. Baking is all about transformation. One cannot help but feel a surge of pride when presenting a still-warm treat from the oven.

These cookies, crispy and chewy, like a good cookie should be, are as basic as one could wish for. Sinfully buttery, sublimely sweet, they melt in your mouth and leave you reaching for another. Based on the Nestlé Toll House recipe, swapping flavourings for dried cranberries or cherries, toffee bits, or dark chocolate chunks is highly encouraged.

So I’ve baked. I’ve rolled up my sleeves, faced a hot kitchen and even licked a spoon. I feel terribly domestic.

I should confess though, I’m having a salad for dinner.

White chocolate macadamia nut cookies
Based on the Nestlé Toll House recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup white chocolate, in chunks (or more, if desired)
1/2 cup lightly toasted macadamia nuts (or more, if desired)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat together butter, sugars and vanilla, until the colour turns pale and the mixture lightens in texture.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Drop rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets (I use a small icecream scoop and parchment lined baking sheets).
Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes, then remove a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

• This dough freezes quite well, so I usually portion out cookies and individually freeze them on baking sheets. When hard, I transfer them to a freezer bag— then I can make as few or as many as I’d like, without having to defrost the whole batch.

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