The streets are crypt quiet. No moths serenade the burntout porch light. The girl is submerged in her novel. When all of a sudden—IT strikes! The irrepressible compulsion to make cookie dough. The clock’s hands may be pointing towards bed, but cookie dough is chronomentrophobic. In my pre-hypnogogic state little voices whisper to me: browned butter, beurre noisette, hints of hazelnut, toffee tint. Vegan browned butter? Another mythological beast of the culinary landscape perhaps, but seek it I will.
Of course, cookie dough tonight means cookies tomorrow, for chilling is hardly optional where liquid lipids are involved. As the butter effervesces in the saucepan, I see visions in the steam. A kitchen Sybil reading my own future: a fresh-baked cookie as big as my face will be mine tomorrow when I return home from work.
If, as far as I remember, my mother never greeted me with fresh cookies after school, can I still be nostalgic for the notion of the Nostos cookie? I nostalgize just about everything. I have 51 pages (and counting), Times New Roman 12 point, of memories from age 3-11. The dream years. The dawn years. The years that I fear might dissipate, might vanish in the scarring sunlight of adulthood. So I snatch up scintillant tatters of nostalgia, even those that don’t belong to me. I am a magpie twining together a nest of memory.
I have appropriated into my narrative the Nostos cookie, that sweet treat that welcomes the traveler home. If only Penelope had been struck by the cookie dough compulsion on the eve of Odysseus’s return. Confronted by a cookie as big as his face, even obnoxious Antinous would fall silent. Crackling edges and center still molten would seduce the suitor-squatters into a gastromanic binge. Eyes glazed, stomachs distended, they could be shepherded peacefully from the hall, and live out the rest of their days in porcine captivity under the watchful eye of Eumaeus. The courtyards of the man of many wiles would run not with blood but with bittersweet chocolate.
Nostos Cookie [or A Cookie as Big as My Face]
Vegan browned butter method borrowed from Vegan Fatty
- ½ stick (¼ cup) vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
- 1 tablespoon nondairy milk (I use almond)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons water
- 1 ½ teaspoons flax seed meal
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons quick oats
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- scant ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons gently packed brown sugar
- splash of vanilla
- 1 ½ ounces (about ¼ cup) roughly chopped chocolate
Combine the butter and milk in a saucepan over medium low heat. Melt, whisking occasionally. When the butter begins to hiss and spit, cook for another five minutes or so, whisking frequently. Trust your nose to tell you when to remove the butter from the heat because this is browned butter in name and flavor only, not in color.
While the butter melts, stir together the water and ground flax in a small bowl and let them sit to gel up. Sift or whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.
Allow the butter to rest for a few minutes after you have removed it from the heat. Then add the brown sugar, mixing well. Next stir in the flax mixture and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in the chocolate bits (make sure the dough isn’t so warm that it will melt the chocolate). Chill the dough, covered, until your long lost traveler is at the doorstep.
Preheat the oven to 350° F and let the dough rest on the countertop for 15-20 minutes or until nearly room temperature. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and shape the dough into a round about 1 ½ inches thick. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are set and beginning to brown. Share with your seafaring beau, or serve the biscuit whole to an obnoxious suitor.