Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Less is More...Right?

"... I go back and forth forever
All my thoughts they come in pairs
Oh I will, I won't, I doubt, I don't,
I'm not surprised but I never feel quite prepared"
-Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
I am by no means a minimalist.
I have no desire to voluntarily squeeze my life into 175sq ft. Really. I like space. 

On the other hand I do think I could stand to take a few tips from the lifestyle. Having fewer things means having fewer things to clean, fewer things to organize, fewer chores to procrastinate, less clutter. More time to relax. Truly relax, not pretend like I'm not procrastinating. More time means maybe I can start walking to work. It's only a mile or so down the road but I'm always in such a rush that I have to drive there. I want to walk to work. I want need to stop rushing. I want need more simplicity.

I go back and forth between my desire to unclutter my house, my life, and my tendency to hoard things "just in case". Starting today, I'm cleaning out my things. I really mean it this time. If I can't make up my mind, it must not be that important. If I forgot I had it, I definitely don't need it. If it turns out that down the road I regret getting rid of it, I'll learn to live without it. 

These unassuming chocolate chip cookies are as simple as they should be. A perfect balance of crunchy and chewy, courtesy of coconut flakes in the batter. They're a classic in their own right with dark chocolate chips and walnuts of course. Perfect baking therapy after long hectic days like my last two. 

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
I may have mentioned at an earlier date that prefer to bake using metric measurements. It's so much more exact and there are fewer dishes to clean; just the bowl on my food scale and a spoon. The problem is most recipes in The U.S. are in standard and a simple mathematical conversion necessarily work. When you convert from cups to grams you are converting from volume to weight and the conversion won't work across the board since different foods have different densities and weight. For example a cup of butter is about 220g and a cup of confectioner's sugar is about 120g. Definitely not something you want to mix up. For this reason when I convert a recipe I have to measure it out in its original measurement and then measure that amount with the system I would like to convert it into. It's a bit annoying so I only do it with a recipe I really like and plan to make over and over again. Sometimes I get lucky and find a recipe where both measurements are given like in this one. I've included both metric and standard cause I know some of you are intimidated or confused by the metric system (thanks, good, old, stubborn, American school system for refusing to teach it). However, if you have a food scale I encourage you to try it out. You'll never want to go back. Adapted from The Sweet Spot via Blue Ridge Baker.

Makes about 3 dozen.

113g (1 1/3c) shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted to golden brown and cooled completely
310g (2c) whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
226g (1c) unsalted butter, room temperature
310g (1c +1 tbls) tightly packed dark brown sugar
169g (3/4c +2 tbls) pure cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract200g (1 1/2c) dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli 60% dark)
120g (1c) chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325
While oven is preheating, spread out on a jelly roll pan or pan with a lip and place in the oven for a few minutes. The oven does not need to me up to temperature for this. Stir once or twice to brown evenly and watch it closely so it doesn't burn. Its ready when it's golden. Remove pan and let cool.
While the coconut is cooling, Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside.
Using a stand or electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl and turn mixer back on. Add sugars in 3 additions alternating with eggs beginning and ending with sugar. Add coconut and vanilla and continue beating about another 2 minutes or so, until fluffy. Turn mixer down to low and add the flour in two additions, mixing just until combined. Stir in chocolate and walnuts.

Chill dough for a couple hours if you have the time. I only had 30 minutes to spare and they came out just fine anyway but I suspect they would have more even, prettier edges if I left the dough in the fridge a little longer.
Form dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place about 2 inches part on baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and turning crisp around the edges.

I haven't tried it yet but this would probably be a good dough to form into balls and freeze, that way you can take out and bake the exact number of cookies you want without additional mess.


  1. Yes, geting back to basics is liberating!

  2. i was excited to try your recipe because i love chewy cookies and loved the idea of coconut in them. but time and impatience got the best of me. i tried a batch right after mixing up the dough - not such a good idea. bad idea...VERY FLAT though tasty yumminess. due to time and need of sleep, i had to leave the dough in the frig overnight so i'll try again after work and i'm hoping it'll be a bit better.

    lisa - i'm a newby to your blog, but i have really been enjoying the recipes as well as the pictures!

  3. kat, I'm sorry to hear they didn't work out hopefully the fridge will solve the problem. i only refrigerated for 30 min at the most but i guess i realy made a difference. let me know how it goes!

    i'm glad you are enjoying it!

  4. lisa - so i tried it again after the dough was in the frig over night and the cookies were still very flat. i tried the next set with a jelly roll pan and silpat and that worked better, but still flat. if you have any suggestions, throw them my way. but i'm definitely trying it again because the coconut in the dough made them perfectly chewy!

  5. Kat- I've had this problem before with a different recipe. It could be a number of things, many times it has to do with the butter, but first:
    -check the recipe and see if you copied anything or measured anything wrong by accident (I accidentally made cookies once with less flour than I was supposed to and they spread paper thin because there was too much fat in relation to flour).
    -Your baking powder could be too old and therefore not "active"
    -your butter could have been too soft to start with
    -if you live in an area of higher altitude your oven temperature probably needs to be different
    -If you are greasing your pans too heavily you are adding more fat to the dough which would make them spread thin (i use calphalon non-stick cookies sheets because they are light in color and i usually don't have to spray them. if I do stray them I used a misto oil sprayer so that i can fill it with real oil instead of a baking spray)
    -make sure your baking sheets are cool (this means waiting between batches)

    hope this helps!

  6. thanks for the advise lisa. i look forward to seeing how the next batch turns out (with the above considerations in mind!)


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