Marcello Goldberger, the ad coordinator at Washington City Paper, is not among the CPers who long for the olde days when City Paper was better, meatier, and packed with classifieds. That’s because Marcello has been with us a scant 21 months, time enough for us to see the present and the future through his child-like wonder, time enough for us to like him very much and to want to bake for him. This week is his last at CP. He has been stolen by Team Sound & Vision, where he will be the Media Librarian.
Web Programmer Will Atwood Mitchell, WAM if you will, has been especially committed to sending Marcello off in the style of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. On Monday, he brought in monogrammed brownies (pictured); on Tuesday, chocolate chip cookies; on Wednesday it was homemade pumpkin pie. He was working very late at City Paper last night dealing with Cherkis and getting the Mingering Mike cover package online. I felt he could use a break in his quest and, after a stop in to Marcello’s going-away bash and, OK, a few Irish whiskeys, I made up a cookie in his honor, the Brown Sugar Chocolate Chunk.
WAM, not to be outdone, woke up early and made Rice Krispies Treats dotted with M&Ms, which I found to be a brilliant stroke of brand-name baking. Curious about WAM’s further baking insights, I initiated a Q&A:
ME: Why do you bake?
WAM: Apparently I’m pre-programmed to generate a certain number of dirty pots and pans each day. If I don’t meet the threshold, I feel a nameless fear. Baking is a very effective solution. Usually by the time I’m done cooking I’m not hungry anymore… so it’s really not about food, just dishes.
ME: Who are your influences?
WAM: Jughead Jones. I pretty much only cook large batches of classic american food, and that extends to baking. My main sources of recipes are the cooksillustrated.com, Joy of Cooking, and the backs of boxes. I’m not watching too much food network anymore, but I used to watch The Naked Chef, and that would get me to branch out a little. One time he made this giant ring of dough with whole hard-boiled eggs baked into it. I probably made that four or five times and it was completely awesome.
ME: Who are you wearing?
WAM: I think I’ve got some Rice Krispies in my shoes. Measuring never gets easier for me.
ME: The M&Ms in the Rice Krispies…What’s next? Junior Mints? Neco wafers? Pez?
WAM: I was looking for the little tiny M&Ms but I couldn’t find them. Then I had to decide between the regular and the dark chocolate. Everything else in there is store-brand, actually, including the crisped rice. Originally I was thinking Rice Krispie s’mores, with a layer of extra marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker crumbles between two layers of treats. But Cherkis and I were here pretty late getting the cover story up, so I had to go crude. I’ll try to go a little more technical tonight.
ME: Chocolate chip cookie: recipe on the Tollhouse bag or something more sinister?
WAM: A bag of mix, one clover, and one bee. I rarely make cookies from scratch. I like the Tollhouse recipe but usually I’m missing something basic like brown sugar or vanilla, and then I go to buy vanilla and there’s no vanilla left. Ridiculous. On Tuesday I had to buy cinnamon for pumpkin pie, and there was ONE container of cinnamon on the shelf, and it was huge. So now I have enough cinnamon to last until 2012.
Thanks, WAM. As for my contribution to the Goldberger Bake Off, here is the recipe. The cookies are gone. WAM declared them “Amazing.”
Marcello’s Brown Sugar Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white
bittersweet chocolate chunks (I had fancy discs left over from another recipe, 70 percent cacao content)
Kosher salt and turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Preheat to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, and egg white and keep beating until you get tired of it. Mix in the dry ingredients by hand. Add the chocolate. Drop cookies, pushing down the chunks so that they are parallel with the cookie sheet and melt in an even layer. Sprinkle the cookies liberally with the salt/sugar mixture (that part is key). Bake just until cookies no longer look wet and bottoms are barely brown. In my oven, about 6 minutes.