Charting life's circuitous path


Let’s Pause a Moment…for Cookies

Between juggling large stacks of errors at work and a terrifying feeling of intellectual drought, there’s this:

A new 29 gallon tank fitted out with a Penguin 200 Whisper filtration system and a Hydor Bubble Maker that arrived on our doorstep at the beginning of the month. We ordered the new digs from Doctors Foster and Smith and received everything on time except for one small problem.  The tank was shattered.  The tinkle-tinkle noises coming from the box as I excitedly opened it should have been the clue.  A pile of glass was not a good environment for Zoe.

This is Zoe, by the way.  Our seven year old Shubunkin goldfish.

She’s been growing into a 5 inch beauty (not including the tail) and needed a new home.  The sweetie will probably fill in the new tank just nicely once she moves in.  Whenever that will be.  Because not only did we have to wait a bit to get a new tank (which was handled easily and swiftly by the customer service lady), but I’ve managed to crash the nitrogen cycle right when it was getting ready to finish.

If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, don’t worry.  Unless you plan to keep fish, then definitely worry.  Go here, in fact, to read up on it asap.

So, it’s more than 4 weeks since we’ve started to do the fishless cycle and I’ve not only managed to crash it, but the pH, too.  I’m not sure why this time it’s all going to hell in a hand-basket, but I’m just thankful that I’m not putting her through it.  As it is, she’s blissfully unaware that I’m making her new home a death zone.  😥

Obviously, tough times call for soft cookies.


And I’ve even managed to “lighten” them a bit.  Trust me to do what I can to make even a chocolate chip cookie taste decadent but be slightly healthier.

The recipe came from my sister-in-law years ago and I had yet to make them.  Color me ashamed, but I was constantly getting distracted by other things to bake and just never got around to it.  Lately, however, the memory of soft, chewy, chocolatey cookies was dominating my every thought.  Probably because  since I can remember, cookies have been my comfort food.  Good cookies, that is.  Not just any cookie.  No hard bricks in this house.

In her recipe, she calls for 1 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Um. No.  That much sugar makes my teeth ache.  😕

So, I subbed 1/2 cup Splenda Brown Sugar with lovely results!  Sweet, soft, and chewy? Check!  Not bulging around the seams with sugar?  Check!

I also used 1 cup of semisweet chips, but then hacked to death some dark chocolate chips until they were near powder.  I left a few chunks in there for goodness, but I tried to pulverize them so that they would seep into the dough and give it a deep taste.

The butter?  I didn’t touch the amount, but I did go the brown butter route for the first time in my life.

And I’m not going back.  Nothing can induce me to make a chocolate chip cookie without browning the butter first.  Ever.  It turns a delicious cookie into a miracle with hints of caramel/toffee/soul changing flavor.

Trust me, brown those sticks and they just might make you forget how much life can stink.  😉

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Note: I followed the directions here on how to brown my butter.  Also, her recipe calls for scooping the dough out with a #20 disher, but I haven’t a clue what that is, so I just used two spoons.  Her method will give you about 18 extra large cookies.  My method gives you about 35.  I also froze most of mine after I scooped them onto the wax paper to bake later.  It’s a great method to regulate how many you’ll consume in one sitting. )

(Another Note: I used to be a make and bake kind of gal, but I let this batch sit in the fridge overnight and they were amazing the next day.  I’m sure they’d still be amazing if you stir and baked, but give the overnight rest a shot. The flavors really seem to meld together if you let them mingle.)


  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup), browned (or just melted, if you’re too chicken 🙂 )
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Splenda Brown Sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 1 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped


  1. Melt the butter in a pan over low/medium heat – just enough to bring it to a low boil.  Allow to brown as described here.  Remove from heat immediately and set aside.
  2. In a bowl or a gallon sized plastic bag, measure out flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir well to combine or shake bag.  I prefer the bag method.
  3. Pour butter into a large bowl and add sugars.  Cream together until combined.  Add eggs, milk and vanilla and cream some more.
  4. Slowly incorporate flour mixture into the butter mixture with a spoon.  Thoroughly mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or transfer dough to a sealed container.  Let sit overnight.
  6. Ready to bake?  Preheat oven to 375.
  7. No need to warm the dough – just scoop out onto a lined baking sheet and cook until golden brown (or whatever floats your boat).  For a #20 disher, it apparently takes 14 minutes.  For a 1.5 inch ball of dough, it will take about 10 minutes.  Either way, watch them carefully and take them out when they’re the color you want.