And, the circle continues….For those of us who live in North America, today marks the beginning of another round of Daylight Saving Time. Every spring we move our clocks one hour ahead and “lose” an hour during the night and each fall we move our clocks back one hour and “gain” an extra hour. Except, it isn’t even #%*&@!*% Spring yet! But, here we are, barely into March, and we’ve already lost that precious hour of sleep. Another lovely gift from the Bush administration!
Originally the brainchild of none other than Benjamin Franklin, the main purpose of Daylight Saving Time (called “Summer Time” in many places in the world) is to make better use of daylight. The rationale for this theory was that energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting homes is directly related to the times when people go to bed at night and rise in the morning. In the average home, 25 percent of electricity is used for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, computers and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurred in the evening when families were home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, the amount of electricity consumed each day decreased. Plus, the extra daylight hours allowed many to indulge more in outdoor activities. When people are not at home, they don’t turn on the appliances and lights.
Daylight Saving Time was originally instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time. Thanks to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005, Daylight Saving Time was extended by four weeks from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November. To me, that translates into a thirty hour sleep deficit, which I am never happy about!
However, there is quite a lot of controversy as to whether DST actually does conserve a significant enough amount of energy to justify the disruption in our lives. There is also evidence to show that DST can actually be a harmful thing. Here is an interesting article in U.S. News & World Report about this.
(Not a pretty sight, huh?)
Whichever side of the fence you may sit on regarding this issue, let me just say that in my opinion, Daylight Saving Time SUCKS! It is going to be sheer torture for my family and I to get up at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, knowing it is really only 5:00 a.m.! The fact that we will have to do this for an extra four weeks each year sucks even more!
Another issue fraught with controversy is the great chocolate chip cookie debate. If you asked one hundred people to name their idea of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, you’d probably get one hundred different answers. Chewy, crispy or cakey. Milk chocolate or dark. Nuts or no nuts. Ever since Ruth Wakefield accidentally invented the chocolate chip cookie, there have been literally thousands of different incarnations of them, all in the quest for the “perfect” cookie. Several food bloggers have entered the debate. Even the New York Times has weighed in on the subject.
For me, the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookies is one that strikes that perfect balance between crispy and chewy. You know what I mean. The one with the crunchy, crackly perimeter that kind of shatters when you bite into it, hinting of butter and caramel, and giving way to a ooey, gooey chocolaty center. The apparent key to this ultimate combination is the resting and chilling of the cookie dough from anywhere to a few hours to a few days.
One of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes is one I have adapted from Alton Brown. For my money, his “chewy” version is pretty close to “as good as it gets”. Alton uses melted butter and bread flour in this recipe. I found this a little unusual, but it works. I chill the dough anywhere from a few hours to overnight and I’m always rewarded with incredible sticky, gooey, creamy and chewy cookies. I always add toasted, chopped pecans to them. Sometimes, I put some toasted coconut in them too as I did here.
The Chewy isn’t the only chocolate chip cookie recipe that I like. I’m also very fond of David Lebovitz’s version from The Great Book of Chocolate. The only quibble I have with that one is that my cookies always tend to turn out really flat. I’m not sure why that is, but it is. I haven’t tried the New York Times recipe yet, although I’m sure that, at some point, I will.
Anyway, If you’re as bummed out about the reappearance of Daylight Saving Time as I am, make some of these cookies. You’ll still be just as tired in the morning, but at least you’ll have something wonderful to look forward to. I promise, they will help to ease the pain!
The Chewy (My Way)
adapted from Alton Brown on The Food Network
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, pecans and coconut.
Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Using a medium ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, approximately 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.