A few years ago, my father-in-law and I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies together. Kind of a bonding experience, in its way, especially since he’s not the chatty type. Just before we slid the first batch into the oven, I grabbed a spoonful of batter and stuck it in my mouth, as I’ve done since I was old enough to hold a spoon.
He stared at me in horror. “Did you just eat the raw dough?” he asked. “Yeah! Want some?!” I jabbed the spoon in his direction. He recoiled as though I had just shouted “En garde!”
“I wouldn’t be caught dead eating raw dough,” he said. He insisted on calling it raw dough, which somehow made it seem more threatening.
Now I looked at him in horror. “I’ve never made a batch of cookies without eating several spoonfuls of the dough. It’s the best part!” I said.
I’m sure at that moment we each felt an acute sense of pity for the other poor misguided soul. My father-in-law, an infectious disease physician, has taken an oath to protect people from the nasty bugs that hide out in places like raw eggs, bugs just waiting to attack a defenseless gut. He looks at raw eggs and pictures all manner of human suffering.
I, on the other hand, grew up in a household where our chocolate chip cookie recipe, taped to the back of the kitchen cabinet, had a little handwritten note at the bottom that said, “Remember to leave some dough in the bowl for mom.” Whenever we cooked together, my mom and I would stand next to the bowl with our spoons and scoop out the perfect ratio of batter/chocolate chips. And it wasn’t just cookies. We’d swirl our spoons over the top of brownie batter or cake batter, ostensibly to “smooth it out.” For years, I underbaked my cookies, brownies, and cakes, trying to hang on to some of that batter-y goodness. And I still love desserts that have a soft and warm feel, like chocolate pudding cake or molten lava cake.
In any event, these chocolate brownies –Rick Katz’s brownies for Julia — made me think about my father-in-law, because when I tasted the batter, it was noticeably eggy. For a 9×9 pan of brownies, 4 eggs is a lot. I dare say, it’s too much. Once baked, the brownies’ texture was all over the map. The middle was soft, chewy and sticky. The edges were browned and crisp. The space in between, impossibly straddling the two extremes, was kind of chalky. I much prefer Dorie’s quintuple chocolate brownies. And, in my opinion, the Baked cookbook still has the all-time perfect chocolate brownie recipe. Still, it didn’t keep me from “smoothing out the batter” just a bit more than was entirely necessary. 🙂