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The Soul of a Chef (or a Baker)

(post, Jenny Weber)

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For those of you who have not read "The Soul of a Chef," I highly recommend you do (and I'm only about 75 pages in to the book). One of the things the author chronicles during this horrendous 10-day Certified Master Chef exam is how all of these chefs--no matter how sick, tired, stressed, or broken--will stand in front of their station, look at their ingredients, start their preparation and all but the beauty and calmness of the cooking takes over.  It happens to me every time I step into my kitchen to bake. It happened to me this morning. 

A week ago David came over to my apartment to test a recipe of roasted peppers and pear soup served with some apple and cheese bunuelos (tasty doesn't even begin to capture what that culinary experience was). I made brownies for dessert (shying away from a mini cupcake idea I had in mind). And there were many, many brownies remainining. Even after I ate one (or seven too many), even after David, Rachel, and Keith attacked the platters numerous times, there were still too many left over. After so many days of brownies I just couldn't take it anymore. I wanted them gone but refused to throw them away.  I guess I could have shared them with my neighbors but I was born and raised in NYC and that neighborly "can I borrow a cup of sugar" was never really part of my upbringing (it became that only when I lived across the street from my aunt and would use not only the contents of her pantry but the extra oven on those Thanksgiving days when I had pies to bake and my father refused to sully his turkey by having it share space with my pumpkin pie -- he preferred the apple). 

The brownies. Still. The brownies. Always. The brownies. What to do with them before frustration (and my bulging waistline) hit and nothing but the innards of my garbage can would enjoy them? Cookies. That's what I wanted. Cookies. 

A standard chocolate chip cookie recipe. I omitted the chocolate chips. Added cocoa powder (because I wanted that double chocolate kick and look), crumbled in the brownies (which were full of hazelnuts and white chocolate), added some additional white chocolate (for additional texture and contrast -- I wanted it to look pretty and impossible to resist), and put my little Frankencookie in the oven. Eighteen minutes later my apartment was full of the smell of not only freshly baked cookies but chocolate. I cooled them. Packed them. Well, after I snuck half of one to taste with a tall glass of cold milk.  The others then parceled out for friends and a few extra for an after dinner treat tonight.