20150501

NO VANILLA EXTRACT? USE DARK RUM!


There I was awake in the middle of the night with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. Insomnia and hunger are not a great combination for me. When I'm hungry I can't sleep and when I don't get my 6 hours I get grumpy. The next day I usually end up falling asleep in the afternoon which messes with my work schedule and makes me grumpier. So I wrestled with myself for about a half an hour until I finally gave in, got up and went to the kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies. Toll House Cookies to be precise, because that's the only kind I make.

I pulled out my bag of Nestle's chocolate chips and began to assemble the other ingredients. It was a midnight mise en place marathon. I measured the flour, poured my sugar into the large bowl, pulled out my eggs, unwrapped the butter to soften, measured out my baking soda and salt, then reached for my vanilla extract.

Zip, nada, nothing. Not a drop, not a bean, not even vanilla ice cream. I could have done without the small measure of extract but the cookies would have lacked the richness and depth of flavor the vanilla adds to the dough. Another extract flavor was not acceptable, I was craving Toll House Cookies not orange chocolate chip cookies. Now I was awake, hungry and annoyed.


I had already solved one problem when I discovered my brown sugar was so dry and hard even the microwave wouldn't bring it back to life. This is the bane of living in a dry desert state, even a sealed container can't keep the moisture in brown sugar for too long. But that's an easy fix if you have molasses and regular sugar because regular sugar is the end result of extracting the molasses from the raw sugar in the first place. You simply add the molasses back in. 

One tablespoon of molasses to a cup of granulated cane sugar will give you a cup of brown sugar, the more molasses you add the darker the brown sugar you get. I didn't even bother to mix them together, I just added the molasses and the extra cup of white sugar to the sugar already in the bowl. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I ran into the vanilla extract brick wall.

Most sane people would have given up at this point and gone back to bed but I am NOT particularly sane in the middle of the night when I have a craving - and I'm stubborn. But I'm also a boozeaphile and it dawned on me that my dark rum had a lovely, rich vanilla note to it and what is vanilla extract? Alcohol infused with vanilla! In fact, vanilla extract is required by law in the United States to contain a minimum of 35% alcohol, many extracts can contain up to 80% alcohol by volume. My bottle of rum was 40% alcohol by volume. I'm a freaking genius in the middle of the night and I was going to be a genius eating Toll House Cookies fairly soon.

In went the rum, on went the oven and in half an hour I was eating my cookies and milk. My cookies tasted just like regular Toll House Cookies. The alcohol cooks off in the baking process leaving just the strong vanilla notes. I ate three. Ten minutes later I was fast asleep.

P.S. I love Chocolate  Chip Cookies enough to do them as pop art and gifts:


AND I even have a Chocolate Chip Martini!





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