writer’s block and a recipe: chocolatey chocolate chip cookies
I have started this paragraph at least ten times, and I have deleted it each time. I have written, and then deleted, countless Facebook status updates and Twitter posts since the beginning of this month. I have writer’s block, and when I do finally write something, the editor inside me is not happy with what I have to say.
My mind is preoccupied with work. I’m right in the middle of a two-week stretch of hospital call, one that won’t end until September 16th. No days off. Long hours. Tired feet.
Though it may sound like it, I really am not complaining. I love what I do – every aspect of it. My job is not just a job. It is a significant part of me, of who I am deep down inside. Being an oncologist is tied in with my identity as a person, just the way that being a wife or a mother is.
But the words that I find myself writing over the past week are not cutting it. My sentences sound stuffy or contrived or false. Like I’m trying too hard.
Every day in the hospital I’m encountering sadness and suffering, mingled with anxiety and fear and helplessness. There is hope, too, but of varying degrees. Because I become emotionally invested in my patients’ outcomes, I feel all of these things, too, at some level, throughout the course of each day.
Which means that whatever I try writing here just sounds trivial and stupid.
If it’s quiet here over the next week, I’m sure you’ll understand.
* * * * * * *
I made these decadent chocolate chip cookies on Saturday evening when I got home from work, as part of my own personal therapy. The cookies were for my family, and they were a hit. The baking process was for me, and it helped. It always does.
Yield: approx 2 dozen cookies
Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is adapted from a recipe for Chocolate Chubbies from Sarabeth Levine's book, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours. I didn't make very many changes - just added some malted milk powder and omitted the nuts. If you like this recipe, you should totally buy her book. It's incredible.
These cookies can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
9 ounces of semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons malted milk powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1. Position oven racks in the center and top third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Melt chocolate using a double boiler: Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put butter in a wide heatproof bowl or double boiler insert, and melt the butter over the hot water in the saucepan. Add the chopped semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, and stir often until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and malted milk powder.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the eggs using the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar and then the vanilla. Whip until eggs are thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium and beat in the chocolate, mixing until it is completely incorporated. Change to the paddle attachment and reduce mixer to low speed. Gradually add in the flour mixture. Remove bowl from mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, making sure to evenly distribute them.
5. Using a 2-inch diameter ice cream scoop, portion the batter onto the half-sheet pans, placing the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake, switching the pans of the position from top to bottom and front to back, about halfway through baking, until the edges of the cookies are set, 17-20 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on baking pans.
Thanks to Sarabeth Levine for giving me permission to reprint this adapted recipe here.