I was a really lucky kid growing up - my mom stayed home with my three siblings and me until my brother, the youngest, was in kindergarten. As if the four of us Sweet kids weren't enough, Mom also baby-sat off and on during the years she was home with us and volunteered at our schools as playground monitor or as part of the home and school association.
Those were the days before iPads and smartphones, so Mom kept us busy doing other things. We didn't spend a lot of time in front of the TV, and when we did, it was "Sesame Street" and "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." We were familiar faces at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library (where some of my sister Chrissy's antics became the stuff of legend), and our house was known as "the one with all the kids outside."
But if the weather was bad and we kids were stuck indoors, we would sometimes find refuge in the kitchen.
Tribune Chronicle / Mary Beth Wyko
Chocolate cookies have long been a favorite of the Sweet family, showing up on Christmas cookie trays and at other times of the year to satisfy chocolate cravings.
Cookies have always been big in my family - our last name isn't Sweet for nothing - and if Mom was looking for an easy recipe to keep us kids occupied for the afternoon, she'd get out the ingredients for chocolate cookies.
Mom's chocolate cookies still make their way onto the cookie tray at Christmastime, but they were also the go-to cookie during the rest of the year if we had a craving for something homemade.
Since I had a yen for some chocolate and a Tribune Cooks story due, I pulled out Mom's recipe for chocolate cookies and made my own gluten-free version.
1 1/4 cups softened butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour (for gluten-free cookies, substitute 2 cups gluten-free flour mix and 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum)
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Blend into the creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet until set; about 1 minute. Remove cookies from pan to cool.
Yield: 4 1/2 dozen
I baked these on a Sunday evening, and of course, I had to sample a cookie from the first batch out of the oven. When they're warm, the chocolate cookies have an almost fudge-like consistency, and I simply had to have one. Then, in the next batch, one of the cookies broke in two as I was transferring it to the cooling rack. Well, I'll just have to eat that one, I thought.
By the time I had the last of my dishes washed, I'd eaten half a dozen cookies. I regret nothing.
As it turns out, my co-workers have a similar lack of will-power when it comes to Mom's chocolate cookies - the plate I brought into work on Monday emptied quickly. One of our reporters commented that the cookies tasted like brownies (never a bad thing), and another wanted to make sure that I was putting the recipe in the paper, because if I wasn't, she wanted a copy. One co-worker suggested that I take the afternoon off to bake more cookies for the newsroom.
I wrote this article instead, but here's the recipe so the Tribune staff can keep their chocolate cravings satisfied.