Recently, I took a two-week long trip back to school. It involved meetings with professors, tete-a-tetes with friends I hadn’t seen since the end of last term, and lots of sleepless nights. Maybe in CAPITAL LETTERS.
It was a wild, tiring, crazy trip, but the amazing thing about having so many friends is the incredible support they provide. Sometimes I seriously think they could put Wonderbra out of business…and at other times, I’m tempted to give in to the overwhelming desire for us all to just quit grad school together and start our own company called WonderBrowse, the book fanatic’s haven and bookshop. Serving up double-D-good lit and baked goods (because you know we’ve got to worm those in there somehow) since the 300th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, 1st ed. (yes, that’s 1813!).
And the Queen of Digression strikes again.
Of course, I’ve never been one to stay in one place for long twiddling my fingers–I am most definitely a work-hard, play-hard kind of gal. And, well, thanks to my very good friends, this trip witnessed the epic collision of playing and working.
Reading Out of This Galaxy: Two English grad students poring over an epistemological novel on Space Mountain, Disneyland. Please note that the upside-down-ness of the book does not affect our ability to comprehend it–in fact, it actually augments our appreciation for the novel’s epistemological crisis. We even donned our hipster glasses.
STUDYING AT DISNEYLAND: One of my favorite parts about studying at Disneyland was that you get to sit in one spot for the entire day and watch the world of Disneyland whirl around you. Think about it–how many of us charge into Disneyland at 8 AM, hit up a Space Mountain fast pass first thing (the only way to do it), and then run clear across the park to Adventureland so you can make your way around the park clockwise and avoid most of the traffic that starts at Tomorrowland? (Yes, according to Chris Strodder, the author of the Disneyland Encyclopedia, most people do go through Disneyland counter-clockwise!)
Outside the Lines: We stayed at the fountain in Disney’s California Adventures reading for nearly four hours. During that time, we were winked and waved at by dozens of performers who kept coming back to the spot–one friendly worker even came over to inquire about what we were studying! A perfect moment in time and place.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE!: I also flew down to surprise my good friend for his birthday, which basically meant I spent the entire lead-up to the trip squirming like a ticklish inchworm because I couldn’t announce my visit to the world via social media, and I love plaguing my entire f-list with that sort of thing (speaking of which, you should check out Wallflour Girl’s new Facebook page!). But despite my near-implosion from secret-keeping, we ended up with a great surprise and, what’s more, a great homemade vegan chocolate raspberry cake that nearly melted because I lit the candles wayyy too early before my friend walked in the door:
A Sweet Surprise: Despite not having my own oven for the full two weeks, I was still able to get my bake on at least four times during the trip, including for my friend’s favorite dee-lish chocolate birthday cake!
CAMERAS, SUN, INACTION! Did I mention the day I spent with a friend reading at the beach and getting massages afterwards? We even stopped by an adorable place called Lenny’s Diner on our way back to his place for the night, and had the most amazing matzo ball soup.
Literary theory and beach bums.
Before I left for my trip, though, I made sure to step into my kitchen and whip up a batch of perfectly transportable, perfectly storable sweet treats for all of my hosts. These were probably the most popular cookies I have ever baked and distributed among my unsuspecting guinea p–I mean, my friends. And the best part is, it’s an original recipe!
The keys to a perfectly chewy cookie in this recipe are:
1. Cornstarch: Believe it or not, the addition of this strange ingredient prevents cookies from getting too crumbly or dry.
2. Underbaking: Allowing cookies to finish baking on the cookie sheet on the stovetop rather than in the oven keeps them nice & chewy!
3. Brown sugar and extra cookie butter: Using LOTS of brown sugar gives these cookies a great, soft caramelized texture and taste, while swirling in an extra generous dollop of cookie butter before baking keeps them gooey and chewy. You might even fold an extra spoonful of cookie butter into each cookie dough ball before baking, like I did with my Best Biscoff Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Whether you’re embarking on a long voyage like a Senior Wilderness Explorer (there is, by the way, a really fun story that I will save for next time’s post!) or simply looking for a simple way to leave your friends more impressed than an 18th-century English navy sailor, these perfectly chewy cookies are it. Print this!
Off to rest up–these two weeks really did take a toll on me. Whew! See you on the flip side of lucidity!
Chewy Brown Sugar Cookie Butter Graham Cracker Cookies Adapted from my Best Biscoff Chocolate Chip Cookies and Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies recipes–check them out! Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup cookie butter
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- dash of nutmeg
- extra 1/3 c. cookie butter, melted
- 3/4 cup graham crackers, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, 1 1/4 cup cookie butter, and both sugars.
- Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, until well combined.
- Add dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg). Stir into wet ingredients until just incorporated to avoid dry or stiff cookies. Note: Your dough will be very crumbly at this point. Just keep working with it! If you have trouble holding it together, add a bit of margarine or butter in teaspoons until the dough comes together, but avoid adding too much or the taste of the recipe will change.
- Gently fold in melted 1/3 cup cookie butter and chopped graham crackers. You’ll want to swirl gently in order to keep nice cookie butter ribbons in your cookie dough.
- Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place them, evenly spaced, on prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until edges are set but centers are still nice, fluffy, and slightly gooey. Remove sheet from oven and place on stovetop so that the cookies continue to cook on baking pan for at least another 10 minutes. This last step is important, and will ensure that your cookies are both fully cooked and chewy!