From the Kitchen of Helena Wilson
by a contributor
by Camille Griep
Chocolate Chip Cookies (with notes)
1 cup shortening (not butter)
1 cup brown sugar (dark brown)
1/2 cup white sugar (I know, I know)
1 tsp vanilla extract (the real kind)
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 cups flour (plus a little extra just in case)
1 tsp baking soda (not powder)
1 tsp salt (kosher)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (whatever you prefer)
1. Preheat oven to 385 degrees. I know. You think I made a typo. You’re saying to yourself, Helena doesn’t know a teaspoon from a teakettle. You’re smirking that you’ve baked cookies for years and your idiot sister probably meant 375. I don’t care if you use your fancy-assed convection oven or your hundred dollar Williams-Sonoma baking mats. It just matters that the temperature is 385. Apparently it isn’t acceptable that I do even one thing better than you, so you publicly insist (at our father’s goddamned wake, for Christ’s sake) that I give you the recipe because Michael liked them so much. So don’t fuck with me.
2. Put the shortening into the bowl of your custom painted Kitchen Aid. No, you can’t use butter. Yes, you constantly assert that you’d never feed Michael chemicals, lest the two of you damage your organic reputations, but what you don’t tell your foodie group won’t hurt them. You can’t discard things just because they aren’t made exactly how you wish they were. You’d waste everything in your fridge that way and Michael hates waste even more than you hate chemicals and you should know this by now.
3. Firmly pack the brown sugar into a cup. I mean really pack it. With your entire ninety pound frame.
4. Add the white sugar. Yes. Terrible, white, bleached, nutrition-less sugar.
5. Add the vanilla. You can take this opportunity to use that really expensive shit you bought in Madagascar. It’s better than letting it evaporate. Like Dad used to say, you can’t take it with you. He sure didn’t. I’m really enjoying his coffee maker, though. That was very generous of you to think of me.
6. Now mix everything up until it’s fluffy and then stop. This takes about thirty seconds. That’s just a little bit longer than it took you to learn to roller skate, to decide to take Dad off life support, to reel in the man I’d always loved.
7. Crack the eggs into a small bowl to — you’ll love this part — ensure there are no imperfections. No shells, no blood, no half-formed chickens. Add them into the bowl and mix another thirty seconds, until just incorporated. That’s just a little bit shorter than it took for me to string a sentence together after you called to announce your engagement.
8. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Together, these things are as white and fluffy as your wedding dress.
9. Turn the mixer on low. Gradually add the flour into the mixture until it becomes the consistency of play-doh. If it isn’t that consistency, add flour by the 1/2 cupfuls to get it that way. Careful, the flour does tend to poof its way out of the mixer at this point, and I know how much you hate messes.
10. Take the bowl off the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. You can do this with the mixer, but the chocolate chips will break. You’ve never had a problem breaking things (elbows, hearts, etc.) but it will make the cookies unsightly and nobody would want that.
11. Spoon large scoops of dough onto a cookie sheet, leaving them in a rough ball about 2-3 inches apart. I can get 16 on a normal sheet. Don’t crowd them. Don’t smash them. Yes, you could make them smaller, but that isn’t the point of a cookie. A cookie is special. You don’t eat a cookie every day. When you decide to eat one, do it with abandon. Eat a big fat cookie and revel in it instead of picking your way through the small, cold, detritus of your kitchen. If you want to make these for Michael, the least you can do is to make them fucking correctly. With soul (if you still have one).
12. Bake one sheet at a time for exactly 12 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the sheet for another two minutes and then put them on a cooling rack. This will allow them to stay chewy in the middle without allowing them to seep through the slats of the rack like a science project. Like me after your reception when I had to be rescued from that strappy deck chair, trapped by bourbon and purple bridesmaid’s bows. Like Dad’s skin in the casket, forty pounds lost in as many days.
13. Eat cookies immediately with milk. Laugh about how you’ll make them for the children you secretly don’t want.
14. Claim it’s your recipe.
15. Please, don’t ever do this to me again.
Camille Griep lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. Her work has been featured in Every Day Fiction, The First Line, Bound Off, Short, Fast & Deadly, and Punchnel’s.
See Camille’s list of 5 Things You Should Read in our ongoing contributors’ series.