by Mari Stein
I hadn’t baked cookies in almost 20 years, but it all came back to me when my niece asked me to bake cookies for her High School’s annual bake sale.
I fretted a bit and found myself mortified at the possibility of failure. I have an exaggerated fear of failure. Whenever someone complimented me and used the word perfect, I would invariably reply “Well, my motto is Perfect or Dead. “
I seemed to be kidding but in reality, no. I’m not kidding.
Why I Don’t Bake Cookies
by Mari Stei
I don’t often bake cookies; I never did. They take forever, and the dirty bowls, measuring cups and spoons are just not worth seeing the pleasure on my family’s faces for the 20 minutes it takes to devour 48 cookies.
As always, I am in the lead. Only I know that I have already eaten SO many cookies, because I have eaten all the imperfect ones. That’s why I have to make 60 cookies, it’s just not acceptable to offer imperfect cookies. It is not acceptable to bake imperfect cookies. People will hold me in a lower regard if they ever find out the secret to making perfect cookies is eating the bad ones. Nobody will like me. Ever.
I make every cookie perfectly, no rough edges as i use the 2 teaspoon method, scoop, scrape, smooth the top peak nicely with the back of the spoon. Twelve cookies, perfectly spaced on the cookie sheet.
Ten minutes later I take the misshapen mess out of the oven. How, HOW I ask you, can the perfectly shaped cookies have crawled into the edges of the baking sheet? As I look at the 8 good cookies and the 4 cookies with delicate square edges that will crumble raggedly as i remove them from the baking sheet, I resolve to proceed with the rolled round ball method. I roll each piece of cookie dough into a perfectly round ball, 1 inch in diameter. As I place 12 perfectly spaced cookies on the baking sheet, I am hopeful. I truly believe that there will be 12 perfect cookies in 10 minutes.
As I remove the cookies from the oven, I notice that, while none of them are terrible, none of them are very good, either…a little over-baked with really burnt spots on the bottom of the edge ones …i really hate having to eat burnt cookies !
I would LOVE to bake 9 cookies on a sheet, but they don’t make square baking sheets, so there you go…
At this point I have 8 good cookies and 4 passable cookies, an even dozen so far.
I will use 2 baking sheets and put 6 cookies on each sheet now that i have rerolled all the cookie dough balls into 1 ½ inch balls, keeping them away from the edges is the key. I will still have a dozen perfect cookies in 10 minutes.
Ten minutes later i find that the larger cookies, kept well away from the edges have contentedly spread into each other. Of course the edges where they are stuck together have broken as i removed them from the baking sheets. Ten reasonably good cookies from this batch, only 2 to eat, but they are big ones.
Twenty two decent cookies. If I proceed with the big cookie plan i will eventually have 48 decent cookies, I just know it !
Two pans of 6 cookie yield another 10 passable cookies. Two big cookies to eat, and I have 32 cookies … this crap is getting old. I am going to make 16 more cookies by re-rolling the balls to make 16 cookies, i may have to roll them more than once to get them all the same size, but this is the plan.
Cookies rolled, placed on pans, 2 pans of 8 cookies each, bake for 10 minutes. I will clean all the mess from cookie baking and make sure that all the bad cookies have been eaten so there will be NO evidence of my imperfect cookies, so no signs will remain of my failure as a cookie baker.
I hear the timer and hopefully open the oven door. So far so good. They look like cookies.
There will be 48 passable cookies for dessert, nobody will be the wiser.
That evening, almost 20 years after my final cookie baking attempt, I resolved to not disappoint my niece. After a trip to Sam’s Club we are 24 cookies to the good. As I remove them from their noisy cheap plastic packaging, I smile and carefully arrange them in the absolutely perfect size Tupperware container. I line them up straight and true, and ding them up some so they will look homemade.