Hello again, friends! This week, I tried something new: I answered a letter on the fly via video Tuesday afternoon, promising the full recipe details and a summary of the advice given today. Take a look!
Videotaping myself with no lighting, no make-up, sitting in my messy house felt a little crazy in this day and age of beautiful, retouched images. I hope my craziness inspires you to just get out there and jump into new adventures, particularly when everything isn’t perfect.
As always, thank you for the letter. Here it is, along with an advice overview and recipe details. Enjoy!
Dear Misery Loves Cookery,
I just found out I have been called up for jury duty during the busiest week of my year. Technically, I can go, but I could use one of the exemptions to get out of it. I’m in charge of a big camp out for Scouts the weekend following my jury duty, and am worried I won’t get everything done. Thoughts?
Of course, if you can use an exemption, and that feels right, go for it. That’s why they exist, to help us out when serving isn’t really possible.
But honestly, don’t do what I just said. Really. Hear me out.
I don’t think you’d be writing me if you really thought you couldn’t serve. Am I right? It is bad timing, and it really could be a hassle, that’s true. I don’t think it is impossible, though, or you wouldn’t have asked. If the patriotic video I watched when last serving jury duty reminded me of anything, it is that our system of justice relies on all of us being totally inconvenienced and bored for hours in a large room of strangers every once in awhile so that fair trials may occur.
The chances you will actually serve on a jury are pretty miniscule. In fact, the chances you’ll even have to show up that day might be slight; most places have you call in the night before to see if the trials originally scheduled are still even happening. The likely worst case scenario is that you go, sit in a hot room with inadequate wifi for several hours, then go home. If you do make it to voir dire, where the attorneys ask you questions about your background, your ability to serve, etc., you still likely won’t be chosen, especially if you make it clear how anxious and preoccupied you are with your schedule.
On the off chance you do get selected, know you are doing the right thing. Try to enjoy the process, if possible—you are one of only a handful of people who will ever experience serving on a jury. Be proud of yourself for showing up and doing your part.
One other piece of your letter stood out to me, your concern that you won’t get everything done for your upcoming camp-out. It sounds like this is the perfect opportunity to reach out to your fellow scout parents to ask for help. Create a sign-up sheet, if you haven’t already, and delegate jobs. Be honest with others: you are happy to spend the whole weekend volunteering with the kids, but with work, life, and jury duty, you need the work of prepping for the trip off of your shoulders. I can’t promise everyone will step up, but what I can say is that it is important to make the ask. Seeking help is hard, particularly when you are in a leadership position, but great leaders rely on lots of help to be successful.
Now, on to the recipe. I want you to have something portable and delicious to make your day of jury service, should that day occur, more sweet. It feels like the right time to share our family’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
One of our secrets is browning half of the butter used in the recipe; this adds a really delicious nuttiness to the dough (without nuts.) In addition, we swap out the typical proportion of white to light-brown sugar for a different mix, eliminating light-brown in favor of dark-brown, and then using more brown sugar than white. The result is a chewy, nutty, caramelly cookie, with crisp edges.*
You will notice in this recipe that we use bittersweet chocolate chips. They are what we like best, so we use them pretty universally. I would encourage you to swap out your normal semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips for bittersweet in this recipe, then go one step further: add chopped, candied ginger.
Ginger is spicy, sweet, and pairs perfectly with bittersweet chocolate in this dough. And just like jury duty, ginger bites you when you least expect it!
• If making this classic without ginger, consider swapping some of the vanilla extract for almond extract, then adding toffee bits.
• The recipe calls for sifting the dry ingredients together, as most baking recipes do. Yes, there is a reason for it. No, I don’t always do this step. Honestly, I almost never sift unless I am making a fancy cake. If you are a non-sifter like me, make sure to incorporate the baking soda and salt into the dough somewhere in the middle of piling in the flour, so they mix in properly.
*If you have a favorite chocolate cookie recipe, or one that works with your diet (e.g., vegan, gluten-free, etc.), use it, just try the chocolate swap and the ginger addition, and see what you think.
- 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cold from the fridge
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 10-12 oz package bittersweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Sift dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking soda, salt), and set aside.
- Place one stick (1/2 cup) of butter in the mixer bowl. Take the remaining stick (1/2) cup of butter and place in a small frying pan or pot, and place over medium heat. As the butter cooks, it will begin to snap as the water cooks off and it clarifies. Do not skim off the milk solids at the top; rather, continue stirring gently, allowing the butter and solids to begin to brown. When the butter has nice caramel flecks, is slightly deeper in shade, and smells nutty, remove from the heat, and immediately pour over the cold butter in the mixer.
- Add sugars (dark and white), and cream the mixture together, until no butter lumps are visible. This will be a more soupy texture than regular creamed butter; don't fret. Cream until 1-2 shades lighter in color and increased in volume. Add vanilla and eggs and mix.
- Slowly add dry mixture into wet, allowing all to incorporate. Stir in chocolate chips, and drop by tablespoon onto a cookie sheet, preferably lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, switching oven racks halfway through cooking. Do not overbake—remove when still slightly gooey, then allow to sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to a cooling rack.