Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The raw truth about cookie dough

We made the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies last night because that’s what my family did during the holidays when I was a girl. In years past since growing up I’ve tried to replicate the tradition but there was always some wrench that would get thrown into the plan, like my son’s hands. So I’d settle for some of those slice-and-bake Nestle chocolate chip cookies, which looked better and tasted just as good but weren’t based on principal, just because no one in the house had actually labored over each and every ingredient and made a mess of the counter in the process.

So this year I laid out all the ingredients and I even set out two separate bowls - one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet, though when I was a kid we just started combining the wet and then threw in the dry ingredients without regard to mixing them first. This year, before the wet ingredients were thoroughly combined, Truman asked if he could lick the “spinners” He said, “Ashley and Mollie (my sister’s older girls) let me eat the batter when I made cookies with them last year.” Rick and I answered at the same time. “Yes/No.” It was I who said yes. Rick looked over his shoulder. “You sure?” Well, yeah. I mean, this is the man who eats carpaccio and ceviche and sushi and raw oysters and who orders his meat and fish medium rare and his eggs with runny yokes. (What’s that called? Over easy? Sunnyside up? I never learned that.) He even laps up the Old-Fashioned Walker Family Egg Nog, which is nothing but raw eggs and booze. I said, “Haven’t you ever eaten cookie dough?” He said, “Uh huh. I guess so.” You guess so? Guess so? If you have to guess, you obviously haven’t because any cookie-dough-eater knows that the dough actually tastes better than the actual cookies. (Maybe that’s why they were named “cookies,” so that those who made the confection would carry through to the last step and “cook” them.)

Rick raised his lone Jack Nicholson eyebrow at me and shook his head as Truman lapped up the batter that contained raw egg. That was his warning that if Truman spent the entire night hugging the porcelain god, it was my job to sit by and manage it since it was I who got him into that mess. Fine. I’ve been consuming cookie dough probably yearly since I was old enough to walk. Never once did I get salmonella poisoning. What, exactly, changed in eggs to make them more lethal than when I was a little girl?

A risk? Sure, but to even the playing field I swallowed down a few wads of dough. I figured if Truman spent the next morning throwing chunks, rather than sitting by feeling bad about it, I could join in on the misery.

Fast forward to this morning. I’m not sick and neither is Truman. We’re going to make gingerbread men today. Not sure that batter is any good, but we’ll taste-test it to be sure. Rick? Well, he can just stand by and wiggle that Jack Nicholson brow.

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