milk chocolate-almond cookies
I think cookies – especially simple drop cookies, back-of-the-package classics – are the comestible that triggers the most memories for me. I'm sure it's the same for most, baker or non-baker. It's the universal pastry. Every culture, every holiday, every family has a cookie. I fondly remember the tender ma’amoul we would purchase at the local Armenian bakeries when I was a kid just as much as I do putting out my own creations on a Santa-shaped plate every Christmas Eve. The cookie was the first thing I learned to make, the first thing I could call my own. I bonded with my mother over the Toll House recipe; she nearly always had to stir in the chips as my little arm cramped from fatigue. I gave holiday gifts of oatmeal-cranberry-white chocolate; they were puffy and cakey but, at the time, they were my signature. Not a special occasion went by without some sort of celebratory biscuit.
What always seemed odd to me, though, was the prevalence of “cookie dough” in food culture. The pleasure of cookie dough for me was its ability to transform from molded clay into chewy saucers, and I would marvel at the magic in front of the oven door with flashlight in hand. Sure, I would take a taste of the tacky leftovers at the bottom of the mixing bowl to understand them, to see if they tasted just so; but more than a morsel never passed my lips. If anything, I would fight off the anticipation of the seemingly long 8-10 minutes by munching through the leftover chocolate chips. It wasn’t the fear of raw egg that spoiled that childhood (or really, any-age) joy for me; I just didn’t get it.