Dispatch 11: Coronavirus Quarantine Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you’re stuck at home in downtown Milan because of a Coronavirus Quarantine, you can do like we did and bake cookies.

I would suggest you bake Coronavirus Quarantine Chocolate Chip cookies.

Here’s the recipe:

3 Quarantine Masks – one for each baker involved in the process;
225 grams of butter, at room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic while the butter is softening so that some weird microscopic bacteria/virus/whatever doesn’t float in through the open window, settle on it and fester);
225 grams of sugar;
2 eggs, but if you only have 1 egg left in the fridge, that’s fine too. Whatever you do, don’t run to the supermarket to get more, since your husband went to the supermarket just yesterday and you all need to minimize exposure and maintain social distance from the world at large;
2 cups of white flour, sifted. You can also use the strange spelt flour your husband found on the almost depleted grocery store shelves instead of the regular white flour because, like I said above at the eggs, you don’t want anyone running to the supermarket again. Although gray and speckled with unground kernels here and there, this flour is probably better for you than white flour. Thus, take heart and go ahead with the cookie-making plan, nevertheless. Besides, your son and husband would be disappointed. They’re going stir crazy, and the idea of making cookies and eating them afterward appeals to them. They will dunk them in some hot water since you’ve run out of tea and Amazon hasn’t delivered it yet. You don’t want to let them have the milk that’s in the fridge because you need it for breakfast tomorrow;
1 packet baking powder. Use the kind with the vanilla flavoring that they sell here in Italy; then you won’t need the teaspoon of vanilla extract the regular recipe calls for;
1 dash salt. You’ve got this at least, you know you’ve got salt, and you only need a dash. Although now that you’re opening the salt canister, you see it’s empty. “Honey, what happened to the salt?” you ask, and your honey tells you he added it to the dishwasher earlier because the salt level was low. Decide you don’t need salt, because salt is bad for you anyway. You hope, however, that chemical processes involved in puffing up your cookies aren’t dependent on that smidgeon of salt;
2 bars Lindt bittersweet chocolate. They don’t sell Nestle’s Toll House chocolate chips in Italian supermarkets even when it’s not quarantine, so substitute these with the Lindt bittersweet chocolate bars you usually use. Chop the bars into little chip-like pieces. Make a note for next time: Avoid having son and husband do this last step because they will eat most of the chocolate while chipping and you won’t have much chipped chocolate left.

1. Wash hands thoroughly for twenty seconds at least, singing happy birthday to yourself twice as recommended on CNN International because it takes ten seconds each time through (in my case it takes longer, but there you go). Make sure that the other two bakers in your group–your husband and son–wash their hands too. Don’t fuss too much when they cut the hand washing short by at least 8 seconds. Gently suggest that they do it again.
2. Pull at elastic bands on mask and slip mask over head.
3. Take off when you realize you’ve put the mask on upside down. The metal band should be at the top of the mask, across the bridge of your nose, not at the bottom, under your chin. The masks just arrived through the mail after having been posted over a month earlier, so you’re still a newbie as far as this is concerned.
4. Wash hands again since you touched your face and hair while taking the mask off and then putting it back on. Twenty seconds, happy birthday twice. You know the drill.
5. Have the other two bakers in the group follow suit.
6. Cream sugar and butter together. Don’t huff and puff too much with the exertion or you’ll fog your glasses up when you exhale and your hot air escapes from around the edges of the mask.
7. Mix the spelt flour with the weird grains and the baking powder together.
8. Smile when your son demands you stand still so he can take your picture. He can’t see the smile under the mask, but he can see your eyes light up.
9. Jump when your phone rings, answer it, then groan. Now you have to wash your hands again. Twenty seconds, happy birthday twice. You know the drill.
10. Combine flour and butter mixtures.
11. Swear when you realize you forgot to add the egg.
12. Add egg. Mix again.
13. Preheat oven to 200 Centigrade. Realize that it’s not really correct to call this step “preheating” since the cookie dough is almost ready, but whatever. The stress of supervising half-hearted hand-washing and fogging up your glasses with your mask made you forget to turn the oven on sooner.
14. Look for chocolate chips. There are twenty-three chips left. Husband and son have eaten the rest.
15. Don’t be annoyed. The cookies will be less fattening this way.
16. Set aside chocolate chips; you’ll add them later.
17. Shape twenty three cookie dough balls.
18. Place on cookie sheets.
19. Ask son to add one chocolate chip to the middle of each cookie.
20. Laugh when your son says, “Mom, these are social-distancing quarantine cookies. Just one chocolate chip each.”
21. Break out the milk when the cookies are done.
22.Wash hands. Twenty seconds, happy birthday twice. Y. K. T. D. (You know the drill.)
23. Take off mask, put it away. You only wore it to test it out.
24. Tell your husband and son, “This is the way we have chocolate chip cookies in America. Warm and dunked in milk.”
25. Chew and savor. You don’t notice the weird spelt flour kernels, the absence of salt or the one less egg. There’s that single, delicious pocket of melted chocolate that trickles down your throat. And you’re happy for that one chip, and thankful it’s today, and that you’re all well. You hope that others have small moments like this to savor today too. Your heart goes out to those who don’t.

12 thoughts on “Dispatch 11: Coronavirus Quarantine Chocolate Chip Cookies

    1. Thanks for the updates Natasha.
      I have been putting yeast from Christmas to use: rosemary focaccia and cheese bread sticks. I was lucky to find flour at the store today.

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