Tonight, I'm making a ton of cookies. By "a ton", I mean about 10 dozen. I'm making them for a Christmas cookie swap on a forum I belong to. I started off intending to make 5 dozen of my shortbread and 5 dozen of my "Deployment Cookies".
I married Mike on 10 August 2001 (that photo above is from our wedding rehearsal). We moved to Ft Stewart, GA and in January of 2002, Mike deployed to Kuwait. Our lease was up, so I went home to live with my parents. I came back when it got closer to time for him to return and rented an apartment. He came back a little over 6 months later, at the end of August. He just missed our second anniversary. 4 months later, he deployed to Iraq. We had no idea how long he would be gone, so I stayed in Georgia by myself. It was incredibly lonely and boring. He ended up being gone 9 months, just missing our second anniversary. During those 9 months that I spent pining for my husband, all alone in our 1 bedroom apartment, I didn't know what to do with myself…
so I started baking.
I embarked on a 9 month quest to find the perfect cookie. Every week for 9 months, I made different cookie recipes. I wanted to find a cookie that stayed chewy (and all in one piece) over a distance of nearly 7,000 miles. I made Pillsbury recipes, Southern Living recipes, internet recipes, recipes from friends, and finally I started trying my own. I mailed off cookies every week, dutifully, faithfully, on my quest to finally find the perfect recipe. In the end, I estimate that I made almost a thousand cookies on my quest . And in the end, I created one that is all my own and does everything I want it to- they yummy, they're soul-healing, they stay chewy over a distance, and, possibly most importantly, they hold up in the mail.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose baking flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (margarine is NOT butter- say it with me)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups chocolate chips (any combination you want. I like 1 cup each of: milk chocolate, semi-sweet, and white.)
1 cup coconut
Cream the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl. (The longer you let it whip, the better.) Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and then add the baking powder. Add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the chips and then the coconut (You have to put the coconut in! I don't care if Billy Bob says he doesn't like coconut or he's allergic to it or coconuts attacked him when he was a child or whatever. A little coconut never killed anyone…however leaving it out will kill the cookies. So, keep the coconut!)
Chill the batter 3 hours or overnight – if you're in a hurry, pop it in the freezer for half an hour or so (although, if you're in a hurry, why are you baking cookies?). You can freeze this batter up to a month, just take it out and put it in the fridge the night before you want to bake.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Bake for 30-35 mins or until light brown on top. Cool for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack. Package and mail to your favorite soldier with a lovely note.