Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rocky Road Cookies and How to Achieve Greatness

Sometimes it’s wine. Sometimes it’s masochistic exercising. Sometimes it’s calling up my mom and shrieking up a bloody storm.

And occasionally, when the day has been particularly harrowing and destructive to my delicate nerve endings, it’s all three.

More often than not, however, I like to do something productive with my pent up negative energy. When times get rough, when I get yet another ticket from the evil preying City of Los Angeles, or when I’ve gone ahead and made another Diana-style blunder, I turn my attentions to the kitchen.

This past Tuesday was a particularly stressful and Debbie Downer-esque day. I fancy myself a rose-colored-glasses kind of gal (they go really well with my mostly pink wardrobe), but I was definitely seeing sepia when I arrived home at my apartment that evening. I felt as though all my efforts and hard work weren’t paying off. That I wasn’t getting anywhere in life and love and the pursuit of something akin to happiness. And I thought that maybe, just maybe if I could make an amazing cookie, a cookie that would cause me to sigh and moan with pleasure, I could prove to myself that, yes, I can do something right.

It was a lot of pressure for a humble baked good, but I had high hopes for my Rocky Road Oatmeal Cookies. How could a cookie stuffed with chocolate chips, peanuts and mini marshmallows disappoint? Clearly, it had to be fabulous – had to verify my worth as a baker, person and aspiring career woman/writer.

I was confident that it would be as wonderful and revolutionary as I hoped, because even when I am seeing sepia, deep down I truly believe I am destined for some sort of greatness. So even though I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to watch that night’s episode of “Glee,” I was still shocked when my cookies didn’t taste like I imagined they would. They were good, but not amazing – certainly not the type of cookie that would inspire me to dance around my apartment with a baking sheet in hand singing, “We Are the Champions.”

I angrily thrust the cookies into two containers and went to bed feeling grouchier than when I’d arrived home with a bag full of groceries and a heavier load on my shoulders.

“Worthless cookies.” I thought. “How am I going to get rid of them?

I ultimately decided they were passable enough to be pawned off to my hungry co-workers, so brought them with me to work the next morning. I sent an e-mail out as soon as I arrived and then waited for the hordes to descend.

Nobody came.

For two hours, my cookies sat untouched in the kitchen by my office. I was crushed – not even the mail room guy wanted one. But then, around noon, an assistant came down. She took a couple for her and her boss and then, five minutes later, e-mailed me to tell me how much she liked them.

Then, a couple hours later, another assistant trickled down. She took several to bring to “her girls.”

Five minutes later, she informed me that she wouldn’t be sharing them with “her girls.”

I took the remaining cookies with me to dinner at Viet Noodle Bar and passed them out to my friends and the waiter and staff at the restaurant. Despite my apprehension that they weren’t my greatest creation, they were well-received by everyone.

“That’s a good cookie!” Our waiter enthused.

I blushed and beamed with pleasure.

Driving home that night with my empty container, I finally starting seeing roses again. Not because a few people had praised my cookies and I was feeling useful and special again, but because of the small pockets of joy I’d created by giving them away. Despite my desire to achieve “greatness,” to be all I can be (hopefully not in the Army), at the end of the day, the most important thing for me to be is kind. That’s where the real “greatness” comes in. Everything else is just marshmallow fluff.

Rocky Road Oatmeal Cookies
Makes approximately 20 cookies

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
3/4 brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped mini-marshmallows (next time I would add more)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Cream together softened butter and brown sugar. Stir in vanilla, then beat in the egg with an electric mixer until fluffy (approximately 1-2 minutes).

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in separate bowl. Mix together with a wire whisk. Add to the butter, brown sugar, egg mixture. Stir until just combined.

3. Add oats, chocolate chips, peanuts, marshmallows. When everything is well-integrated into the batter, refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.

4. While refrigerating, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon out golf ball-size scoops onto a cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes depending on temperature of oven and how cool the dough is from the fridge. They will be golden brown on top when done. Cool completely on a wire rack before enjoying.


Esi said...

Ok, I was totally going to make them...and then you said you didn't looove them. What up?!

Jenn said...

I always find myself in the kitchen when I'm all "down in the dumps". Then I perk right up again. hehehe... Got anymore cookies? I've got the milk. :)

RG said...

The cookies look AMAZING...loved the story behind them. As far as greatness, you're already THERE :)

FS said...

I love "but because of the small pockets of joy I’d created by giving them away" :)

Diana said...

Esi - Haha, I liked them, but I had very high expectations for them! It would have had to have been the best cookie in the world to please me that night!

Jenn - Agreed! It's one of my favorite forms of therapy. Though I think eating the food probably has something to do with it. ;)

RG - Thank you! Feeling a pocket of joy right now from your comment! :)

Meg - Thanks! It really did make me feel better seeing how happy they made everyone. Even if I wasn't completely 100% thrilled with how they turned out.

Anna A. said...

Ooooooh TALF, you're so adorable! I'm glad your day turned for the better thanks for your positive 'tude. The cookies looks righteous. Gonna make em for eat my blog??? please say yes. please say yes.

Diana said...

Anna - I wanted to do them for it, but not sure they are "wow" enough. I want "wow!"