Eat, bake, crave, touch and dream cookies.
Imagine being immersed totally in a ceaseless, against-the-clock search for perfection of one single baked good. That's me this summer with cookies. Trust me, you learn some things.
First thing is that time and space are not the only things in this world that are relative. It is likely that the tastiness value attributed to a cookie will be related to the geographic location in which it is judged. In other words, a cookie does not easily translate cultures. What does this mean? That across the world there are things being called cookies that, to some of us, are an utter disgrace to the cookie name.
Today I don't want to get into cultural differences, except to say that America knows how to make a good cookie. Today I wanted to talk a little about what makes a good ice cream sandwich cookie, because that was the first realization I had upon embarking on The Cookie. Your oh-so-perfect chocolate chip cookie, the recipe you looked far and wide for, is not going to make a good ice cream sandwich. It's going to be hard, thick, and frozen, dwarfing the ice cream that you choose to go in between.
The perfect ice cream sandwich cookie is thin, somewhat underbaked, crispy around the edges and chewy enough in the middle that handling it at room temperature makes you slightly nervous. Something magic happens to this kind of cookie. When frozen, it is absolutely perfect. It retains its outer crunchiness while the interior becomes toothsome and pleasantly chewy. What was once a gob of dough is now a hit of pure flavor. The thinness of this cookie is not only important because it improves your ice cream to cookie ratio; it is also part of the reason that your cookie was able to attain those crispy edges. In many of the recipes I adapted and created this summer, the key to making a cookie Ice Cream Sandwich Material was upping the fat content. This step led to cookies that spread more and weren't afraid to get a little crispy.
One question I was not able to answer this summer, despite all my introspection, was the explanation behind America's cookie superiority. Is it because we invented the modern day cookie, over a hundred years ago at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts? Is it the fact that we are not afraid of copious amounts of butter and sugar? Is it because once you taste The Cookie, you can never go back?
Life's little mysteries.