Dreaming of the 1980’s

Big hair, neon sweat shirts, leg warmers, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran and the David Wood Food Shop on Yonge St. in Toronto. I couldn’t afford to shop there, maybe a cookie or two, I was a university student and it was a time when the Yuppies and all of their money ruled the universe. But when I was in the city, I had to go there.

David Wood’s was an oasis of flavour, beauty and good taste. They sold what was considered “gourmet” and exotic; chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, tiny roasted quails, grilled vegetable salads, quiche, couscous, French olives, oils and vinegars that you just couldn’t buy anywhere else. The desserts beautiful like a French still life, a riot of colour and perfect presentation; whole cheesecakes for sale, French fruit tarts, billowy chocolate mousse cakes and of course their famous chocolate cookies still warm from the oven.

I wanted to shop there, work there, anything, I wanted that life. A time when my entire life stretched before me, when anything was possible, including being able to walk into that shop and buying more then a couple of cookies.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies from the David Wood Food Book

“These cookies are one of the stars at the store. The secret to success is to mix the batter as little as possible after the flour is added and to underbake them just a bit.”

Yields 18 large cookies, or 36 small

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and soda. Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. This may be done in an electric mixer (a time before everyone and their neighbour’s dog owned a Kitchen-Aid) or with a hand mixer. Scrape down the sides with a spatula once or twice to ensure that the butter is being thoroughly creamed.

3. Turn the mixer to slow and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Now add the flour all at once; immediately followed by the chocolate chunks. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350F. lightly butter a cookie sheet; or line it with parchment paper.

5. Scoop out balls of dough: 1oz. for small cookies, 2oz. for large cookies. Place the balls 3″ apart of the cookie sheet as they spread during baking. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges, but still under done in the centre. Cool on a rack.

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