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Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

  "Why don't you go stay with Auntie Penny for awhile, run off to Phoenix!"

  I was sitting by a man-made lake in my college town, pouring my heart out to my oldest sister.  I wasn't happy, I was feeling unsettled, and the last thing I wanted to do was study for a biology exam.  I was quiet for a minute, what if?  What if I just did that?  School was driving me crazy, boys (or the lack thereof, at the time) were clouding my head, friends were falling apart and/or moving away, and even food was getting to be unappetizing.  This is coming from a girl who freaking lives for baking.

  So, what if indeed?  I called my aunt the next night, working out some tentative details.  I went home that weekend and sprung the idea on my family.  And you know what?  For the first time in a long time, I got excited.  I got really excited.  I was taking a year off of school (I'd prefer forever, but we'll see), why not travel?  See some new terrain?  I've yet to get out of the Midwest, and while I love it dearly and it will always be home, I gotta get, man.  I just gotta get.

  So, what I'm saying is, I'm leaving June 30th for a 2.5 day roadtrip with my dad.  We're driving me and whatever will fit into my car across the country to (a very very very hot) Arizona.  It will be at least for the summer, depending on how things go.  But it's all up to me, my choice.  My decision.  My future.

  Basically, I've just been listening to the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron soundtrack on repeat and baking this trailer to pieces, trying to channel my inner something to push through with this.  Because if you know me at all, you'll know I hate decisions.  I hate 'em.  I hate the fact that no matter what you choose something will change or alter something else and yadda yadda yadda.  I'm a worrier, and I suck at making up my mind.  Now you know.  I've gotten better, I like to think, but you should know that I wrestled with this move and went back and forth on it a good 2 or 3 times before we finally bought my dad a one-way plane ticket to return and said that's that.  I'm going, goshdarnit.  I'm going to the terrain of Breaking Bad, to scorpions and cacti, away from my blissful rainy days (albeit the hell it wreaks on my hair), leaving behind both old and new friends for awhile.

  Am I crazy?  I don't know.  But I'm doing something, and however it turns out, I think it's experience I need that I couldn't gain any other way.

  I'm going to do my darnedest to keep up with blogging while I'm there.  You bet I'm packing up my camera and all my weird food props, my aunt is going to have to put up with me semi-taking over the kitchen and whatever good light sources I can find.  Because if there's one thing I know, it's that I need this outlet more than ever.  It killed me not having consistent posting during the school year.  I cursed every paper I wrote because it wasn't a blog post, it wasn't me typing about pretty cakes and cookies and whatever ramblings were going through my head.  I missed it dearly.  

  Meanwhile, I have a solid month or so to figure out logistics, pack, try not to binge on online shopping, and of course bake bake bake.  I have not left this trailer since Sunday and I am really starting to feel it.  I've kind of been hiding under a rock, because a lot has happened in previous weeks, and I'm determined that nothing will deter me from this adventure of mine.

  So I bake, write, play with the puppy, and spend the rest of the time on Pinterest and/or Spotify.  The amount of Netflix I have watched should be illegal.  Also, Molly's new book, get your hands on it like right now.  Opening a restaurant in the budding years of an early marriage?  I raise my glass to the both of them, and curse them for making me want pizza every time I pick that book up.  Also, the deep dark corners of Spotify are both disconcerting and full of hidden gems.  Ham Sandwich, an Irish Indy band whose song Ants resonates with me like none other right now, is kind of the best thing ever.  And Youth Lagoon will make you feel like daydreaming and writing, and just being pleasant.

  But that's all that stuff, what about cookies?  What about indeed.  First off, there's something you should know about my mother, a trait that she shares with my little sister, Lucy.  They are both fiercely independent individuals with very specific tastes.  Now, it depends on the subject with each of them, but suggesting things to either of them and gaining approval is one of the small victories in life that deserves a private celebration dance.  My greatest victory was suggesting the show Sherlock, which both are now considerably hooked on (self high-five).

Another of those feats was getting my mom onto Pinterest.  My mother brushed facebook away, gave twitter a trial and deemed it ridiculous, and tends to stick mainly to goodreads and email.  But now, we have our exciting evenings in the trailer sitting on our laptops and commenting on what each other has pinned.  Today she stuck her head into my room and asked whether or not the butter for those Joy the Baker cookies I had pinned needed to be set out to soften.

  So I made cookies today.  And no, the butter doesn't have to be softened, it needs to be melted down to a beautifully deep brown liquid.

  I've basically already found my dream cookie, but that has not stopped me from trying and posting several subsequent versions of the esteemed chocolate chip.  This one was quite different, the dough was extremely thick and a little on the dry side.  The result was cookies that were greatly heaped and didn't spread much, and were a bit more on the Chips Ahoy! side of the texture spectrum.  But, nonetheless, they are indeed delicious.  Toasted coconut and brown butter add incredible depth, and while there is a goodly bit of crunch on the outside, the middles are still quite soft, if you don't overbake them.

  I found that pressing down on the formed dough balls before baking encourages them to spread out a bit more, but I don't know how much of that is just me adjusting to my gas/non-convection oven.  Do what you will, whatever the shape they're sure to be delicious.

  And a quick S/O to some amazing parents/taste-testers.  In the past few months I have watched them relocate from our family's home, help my little sister adjust to the biggest change of her life, learn to cope with a new puppy, get my sisters and I through relationship issues that have sprung up, wrestle with finances, work their tails off trying to sell the old farm, and just deal with the general stresses of moving.  But here they are, still smiling, in a marriage that stands strong and knows how to find enjoyment in the little things; like sharing warm cookies.  

  I don't know what I'd do without them.  Well, actually I do, as heartless as that may initially sound.  I'd be the strong independent woman they raised me to be, because I've learned that they can't always be around.  So I value their time and the advice they have when I'm with them, and I'm sure I'll be taking advantage of the "keep calm and just call mom" card when I'm across the country job hunting in a few weeks.

  K yes mush fest done.  This post got long and I'd apologize but...I needed the length.  I've been inside my own head in a square of a room for almost a week.  I will ramble on about Phoenix and chocolate chip cookies as much as I have to to keep sane in the midst of this organized chaos.  Peace, readers, I have Pinterest boards and playlists to update.

  “It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
-Wendell Berry

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: about 30 cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned to about 3/4 cup browned butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut (you can use sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the brown butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, mixture will be grainy.  Add the egg and egg yolk and mix on medium speed until combined, mixture should smooth out.  Beat in the vanilla extract until combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in the toasted coconut and chocolate chips with a spatula, dough will be very thick.

Roll or scoop the dough into tablespoon-size portions onto the prepared sheets, leaving a couple inches between each cookie.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  You'll want the cookies to be getting golden but make sure the middle is still quite soft, that makes for a lovely center to balance out crispness.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Sources: barely adapted from Joy the Baker