When I was a kid, cookies meant....______ insert your feelings about cookies here. Most adults will be brought back to moments of sheer bliss when they remember the kitchen cookie jar. Maybe it was filled with Mom's special recipe or store bought Oreo's, but any way you slice it, those cookie memories are special comfort moments that we as adults want to transfer to our own children and grand children.
My siblings and I spent many of our formative years behind the counter of a bakery. We are going back to the bakeries of the 50's, 60's and 70's. It was in those days that a bakery was a full service store that provided you with bread, rolls, pastries and all other baked goods including the special and important occasion,wedding and birthday cakes. My Dad's bakery also sold an amazing amount of cookies. Do you remember going into the bakeries back in the day...when the person helping you from behind the counter would hand you a cookie while you waited?
Cookie counters filled with chocolate chips, linzer tarts and black and whites as big as your head. There were also trays and trays filled with butter cookies.
The endless varieties of crumbly goodness filled with raspberry or apricot jelly, dipped in chocolate. I grew up with these cookies and honestly did not really care for them. When you see something every day it definitely loses its appeal.
When I was in college, it was my job at the bakery to stack the cookies. Tuesday mornings before class I would carefully stack the endless trays of fresh cookies pyramid style. That of course meant that I was sitting through Philosophy and English Lit digging chocolate out from under my nails. Yes, the cookies were not my favorite thing in the world.
Then I grew up, married and had a family...and I realized that not only didn't I know how to bake, but I would be keeping my children from what others considered a pleasure in life. So with babies sitting in little seats on the counter in my kitchen I learned how to bake cookies.
Starting with the basic chocolate chip variety and moving on to sugar and butter cookies. I invested in a rolling pin and cookie cutters and every December I baked. The investment paid off...all of my kids love to bake and cookies are daughter in the middle's specialty. She loves to bake and in between studying for college exams she finds baking to be somewhat of a comfort zone. She baked the cookies in the photo mosaic above.
My memories of the bakery have definitely dimmed over the years, and may have become a little romanticized at times. My brothers, sisters and I spent a great deal of our youth in the back of that store and when we were tall enough to see over the counter, we worked the front of the store. I remember the bakers and the cake decorators, all men making a living to support families. I also remember the layout and tactile feeling of the back of the bakery. The cool smooth marble counters where the pastry was made and the cakes were iced. It was very old, honed smooth by work marble...there were no sharp edges. I remember the long wooden work tables where the bread dough was cut into exact pieces for rolls, and I remember the unearthly heat coming from the huge oven. One other thing that I remember is that nothing in that store came from a mix...there were sacks of flour and sugar, and an industrial refrigerator filled with cream, milk, yeast, and butter. I remember gagging on the powdered sugar in the air when the whipped cream was being whipped in the huge mixer too.
All told, these are good memories, and maybe a little different than each of my siblings might have. I have learned over the years that we may have been in the same place at the same time but a ten year old will remember something differently from a nine year old or a seven year old.
Coming back from my walk down memory lane, since baking cookies over the years I have come up with one signature cookie recipe that I will share with you today... If you like coconut or oatmeal raisin, than you will really like this cookie.
Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups of oats (not the instant oatmeal but the kind that takes 5 minutes)
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat till incorporated. Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to wet mixture and mix slowly. Add oats mixing in well and last add the raisins and coconut.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving space between each one (they will spread). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from sheet and cool.
This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies and will stay nice and moist in a sealed container.
Happy Baking and best wishes for a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all of my readers.