My real calling in life, I think, is cookies. Baking cookies seems to be something I do well, something I like and something that other people really dig. Eating cookies is also something I do well, but I try to practice this in moderation lest my behind grow too enormous. Other than building someone a bridge, I can’t think of a better way to honor someone than by creating a cookie for her. My sister, Wendy, deserves her own special cookie.
I’ve written about Wendy before , and I was lucky enough this fall to spend time with Wendy and her family in Rhinebeck, New York, where they live. Rhinebeck is about an hour north of where Wendy and I grew up in Dutchess County, and it is one of my favorite places to be. Not just because the fall in Dutchess County is absolutely gorgeous, but because Wendy, her husband, Seth, and their kids, Seth and Sammi, are a lot of fun to be around. We did a lot of laughing, and Sammi and I did some damage in the kitchen (the good kind) and watched iCarly, which I thought was pretty funny.
When I came back to California, I missed them intensely. It was weird that no one was calling me Aunt Lori—Seth as well as the kids called me this!—and it took me at least a week to realize that when someone threw a “Honey” or “Mom” in my direction, he was actually addressing me.
Sammi and I were supposed to bake chocolate chip cookies before I left, but we kept forgetting (damn you, iCarly!). Wendy got all the stuff for us, including a bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. Maybe I kept “forgetting” to bake the cookies because the milk chocolate chips kind of scared me. I generally use dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate, and I figured the milk chocolate would facilitate an irreversible sugar coma.
When I was coming up with the ingredients that would comprise the Missing Wendy Cookie, the first thing I thought of was the milk chocolate chips. I figured it was time to step outside my comfort zone and bake with them. Macadamias and coconut just seemed to go so naturally with the milk chocolate. (Wendy shares my deep, abiding love for coconut.) These three ingredients taste so good together, I almost felt like Ina Garten was standing next to me suggesting what to use next.
Creating a cookie for Wendy is the very least I can do for her. I have my next two visits all planned. Knowing when we will be side by side having a cup of coffee, shopping for makeup and laughing about the latest thing Sammi or Seth said is what will get me through the intervening time apart. Until then, I guess, there are cookies to bake and eat.
Missing Wendy Cookies
Makes about 20 3 ½-inch cookies
I used dry roasted, salted macadamias, and I recommend those. They’re really flavorful and you don’t need to use a lot of salt in the dough. If your cookies come out looking a bit puffy, use my foolproof method for deflating: Whack the baking sheet on the counter a few times until the cookies are no longer puffy. Baking? Never had one lesson!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar (I use Trader Joe’s organic evaporated cane juice)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅓ cup all-natural, unsweetened applesauce
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup milk chocolate chips (Wendy and I both like Ghirardelli)
½ cup dry roasted and salted macadamias, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t want to use parchment, no worries, just don’t grease the pan.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk in applesauce until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir together until combined. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips, then the macadamias.
3. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet. I do 9 per batch because they spread out a bit. Bake 10-11 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely. When completely cool, transfer to an airtight container, where they’ll keep for about 3 days, but they probably won’t last that long.