Today my friend Lisa will bake a cake for her son William. Lisa lost her son to an accident while he was serving in the U.S. Navy. On April 22, his birthday, Lisa turns to the therapeutic act of baking and sharing a cake with loved ones as a simple way to can honor Will and a much-loved tradition.
We talk often about food as an expression of conviviality. We celebrate birthdays with expensive dinners, holiday are an excuse for second helpings of dessert and social gatherings are almost never without even a simple snack. but there’s a dark side to what we eat being so intertwined with our day to day. When tragedies happen, people bring food. Chef Art Smith sums up the relationship between food and emotions in a quote that Lisa found in his book, Back To The Table The Reunion of Food and Family:
Food As Love
Few of us think of food only in times of celebration.
We also think of it in times of sadness and need.
Cooking for others is a way to say things you aren’t ready to say, can’t say or won’t say, in both good times and in hard times. When we cook for a date for the first time, it’s usually an expression of affection. When we bring someone food because they’re sick or lost a loved one, it’s also an expression of affection.
Cooking or baking — or even ordering in, we’ll give you a break on this one — can be a way to celebrate both happy and sad occasions. Since William passed, Lisa has vowed to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death and step out of her comfort zone much like he did throughout his life at home and in the military.
To inspire more people to step outside of their comfort zone and live life to the fullest, I’m celebrating William with Lisa’s spirited chocolate chip cookies, of which she made 600 for her daughter’s wedding last year. If there’s anything I can get behind that stands for celebration and comfort with equal meaning, it’s chocolate chip cookies.
More specifically, chocolate chip cookies with bourbon.
- 21⁄4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 12 Tbs. (11⁄2 sticks / 6 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.
- 1⁄2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
- 1 large egg, at room temp.
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temp.
- 2 tablespoons good bourbon or whiskey (William liked Jack Daniels)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 (12 oz) bag Ghiardelli double chocolate bittersweet chips
- Heat oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter, both sugars and corn syrup on high. Beat in egg, egg yolk, bourbon and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix the flour mixture in gradually until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Drop onto prepared sheets in 2 tablespoon (1 oz.) cookie scoops, leaving 2-inches between each cookie. Bake until cookies are lightly browned on the edges (rotating pans halfway through if baking two at once), 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 3 dozen.
Note: Once you’ve scooped the dough into balls, you can freeze them like this on the trays. Transfer the frozen balls to a freezer-safe zippered baggie for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before baking.