Double Chocolate Cookies :)
(AND some mushy, gushy stuff about home. If you’re just here for the cookies, you might want to skip the first four paragraphs. :)
Winter Quarter has commenced for only two weeks now, and already I long for break. I miss the relaxing days of being able to wake up whenever my body wants to, when the only things I occupied myself with were running, reading, baking, and laughing with my brother, Alan, until I fell on the floor. As much as I love school, research, work, and simply just being on campus, living such an unstructured life is incredibly refreshing every once in a while.
Before Winter Break, I hadn’t visited Portland for over six months—the longest duration I’ve spent away from “home”. I was on campus doing research over the summer, visited my sister in Salt Lake City for the last three weeks of summer, and spent Thanksgiving Break in Ohio. It had hardly crossed my mind how much I might’ve miss Portland; As the loads of work get more and more massive, and the amount of sleep I get becomes infinitesimal, I feel like I get too busy to remember to miss home. When I landed in Portland in mid-December, everything felt remarkably foreign. But the moment Alan greeted me at the MAX stop downtown, it all felt like home again (oh, the hallucinating homeless man who started yelling nonsense at us two blocks down the street, and the pack of over 50 Santas marching around town chanting “HO! HO! HO! HO!” certainly helped, too ;).
The reason why I put “home” in quotations the first time around was because, just last year, I was torn over where I considered “home” to be. I felt like this was an essential thing to know, and it was a pertinent piece of information I couldn’t provide for myself. I felt like I was being torn in a million directions: Is my home in Portland, where most of my family is? Or is it in Salt Lake City, where my sister hosts me for an extended period of time every year? Or is it on campus, where I spend 3/4 of time? Last year, I finally grew comfortable with calling Stanford my home—just like any other Stanford student would. But even then, I was still torn, because flying from one place to another and living out of a suit case really gets you thinking about this kind of thing. And not too long ago, I finally found an answer: I have multiple homes. I have multiple places I can travel to, unravel, feel comfortable, and be surrounded by familiar things and familiar people. I used to think I was underprivileged, because I felt like a nomad who didn’t have a single place where I owned a bed and a closet (that I didn’t have to evacuate every year). But that’s not what makes a home. And I’m far from underprivileged—I feel like the luckiest person in the world! Having so many places I can go to and feel “at home” is easily one of the best feelings in the world. :)
Winter Break was made wonderful by my big brother and best friend (let’s just say we’re BROS, yo), Alan, who devoured all the cookies and pancakes I made with a smile on his face, while tolerating my borderline terrifying obsession with Entourage; my oldest brother, Adam, who I got to celebrate and greet the new year with (by far, the most AWESOME new years celebration I’ve ever had); my older sister, Linh, who joined us in Portland/Seattle for a few days before Christmas; and my mom and grandma, who I swear never change (yes, they’re consistently crazy), and never fail to feed me the best food and funniest stories. I love my family, and wherever they are are places I’ll always consider home. :)
Okay, enough cheese. On to the suga’!
I made these cookies for Alan as a parting gift, and a big huge thanks for his hospitality over Winter Break. :)
I used my go-to recipe for chocolate cookie dough, and used chunks of semi-sweet chocolate I got from Trader Joe’s. The chocolate chunks were a lot more bitter than I had anticipated, so the next time I make these cookies, I think I’ll opt for some Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chunks. The texture of the dough is my favorite: crispy on the outside, slightly fluffy, but still chewy.
My sister made and gifted chocolate truffles that were “sweet & spicy”—they were dark chocolate truffles, spiced with cayenne pepper, with dried cherries hiding in the center. Amazed and inspired by this flavor combination, I decided to experiment with half the dough, and turn my sister’s truffles into cookies. I just mixed in a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper and dried cherries, and presented these cookies at a cookie exchange with a few friends on campus. These cookies could definitely use some work. The spice didn’t quite come on as strong as I had hoped, and I think they ended up being a bit dry by the time they reached California. I’ll have to try at this another time, with more cayenne, different chocolate chunks, and maybe making bigger cookies to retain more moisture over time (mine were about 1.5 inches in diameter).
And with that, I conclude my longest blog post ever. :)