Food & Wine

Embracing Your Big Cookie Energy

6 May 2021By Rubi McGrory
Illustration by John Devolle

Written by

Rubi McGrory

Rubi McGrory has 25 years in yacht galleys and more than 150,000 miles at sea. Aside from culinary creations, she does art, design,  illustration, and curates custom tablescapes. Follow Rubi’s culinary shenanigans on Instagram @big.cookie.energy. www.rubistudios.com 

When I say my new life goal is to live in “Big Cookie Energy,” I don’t mean the size of the cookie. I’m looking at the size of the vibe. Cosmic rays and supernovas, that kind of big. I’m visualizing my life in rainbow-hued effervescent light, sparkling not with stars, but sprinkles. I’m spinning around, joyfully singing in alpine mountains made of tiny cookies. I intend to travel through my life full of sweet, crunchy, chewy, fudgy, crystals-of-salt-for-a-full-palate-experience, glittery, joyous energy that every soul needs. And I’m sharing it.

Before we get into hardcore cookie ideology, let me begin by addressing cookie size. Everybody knows that two- and three-bite cookies are the best. Nobody ever wants a cookie as big as their face — that’s an agenda forwarded by bakeries, restaurants, and other businesses looking after their bottom line. The bigger the cookie, the higher the price people will pay, the fewer cookies an establishment must sell to make profit. But, ugh, far from an ideal confection. Cookie bliss is that exquisite ratio between outside to inside, about achieving perfection and satisfaction in only a few bites.

I’ve been conducting secret experiments on guests and crew for years. Here’s what I’ve observed: people don’t like big things. A basket brimming with standard-sized muffins (not even those ginormous five-pound stodgy bakery monstrosities) on a breakfast buffet then subsequently shuttled into the crew mess will go largely untouched. That same basket but filled with mini muffins will vanish before all of the guests have awoken. A passion fruit-cheesecake breakfast pastry cut into one-inch slices will return to the galley with its gorgeous plaits intact at the end of the meal service. Sliced into little squares, it disappears one bite at a time. A jar of three-inch cookies will stay full. A jar of one-bite cookies won’t survive midnight munchies. People prefer little mouthfuls of sweet treats.

I don’t know why. I’m not a psychologist. I’m a person who bakes to share. And if I’m going to invest my time in making delicious treats, I want to ensure they’re enjoyed, that my efforts have not been in vain. And most importantly, I want all of that cookie energy making its way out into the world.

So, this leads me to the why. Why do I want to stage a revolution to make the world a better place by giving people cookies? Because I can. Because it’s fun. Because the world needs love (and cookies). Because cookies are tangible: you can touch, see, smell, and taste them. If properly crunchy, you can hear them as well (although this isn’t necessary for optimum cookie enjoyment). Because everybody loves cookies. Because I can’t think of a better way of showing gratitude to the people in my life than to give them a cookie (or six).

I’m giving because making cookies brings me joy (as long as they don’t require being rolled out, cut into shapes, and intricately frosted). I’m giving because it brings joy to others.

Some people offer you prayers. Some offer platitudes. Most offer nothing. I’ve got some Ziplocs stuffed with a couple bites of something “crunchewy” and studded with chocolate chips or lemon zest. Give me a ride down the dock in your golf cart ... cookies for you. Text me from shipping and receiving when my package arrives ... cookies for you. Staff at my favorite shops ... cookies for you. Yes, tipping actual cash is always appreciated and welcome (nothing says “Thank you” like ol’ Ben Franklin), but tipping isn’t always conceivable or suitable. Cookies are always appropriate.

Sure, people don’t always know how to react when I dip my hand into my backpack to whip out a bag of cookies for them. Am I crazy? Am I trying to poison them? Why am I giving them cookies? Is this a joke?

I know this to be true: cookies make people happy. I don’t gift little confections with the expectation of having the gesture returned. Rather, I’m giving for the sake of giving. I’m giving because making cookies brings me joy (as long as they don’t require being rolled out, cut into shapes, and intricately frosted). I’m giving because it brings joy to others.

Since I’ve begun embracing Big Cookie Energy, a few things have happened. I organized a holiday cookie tray sale for charity. Not only did we double our fundraising goals, but we had so many bakers contribute cookies, dozens of homeless and other food-insecure people nibbled on home-baked holiday cookies because of our efforts. The other weekend, I made a couple of batches of cookies to give to some friends. Before I finished gifting the batch away, I was buried in cookie gifts from a friend, a neighbor, and my sister. My sister’s package took so long in the mail, the croissant she sent turned moldy. The cookies were still good.

A quick point of clarification: Big Cookie Energy isn’t only about cookies. That’s merely the first bite, so to speak. It’s about sharing all the food. It’s feeding dayworkers. It’s making a plate of dinner for the marina security guard on Christmas Eve, or any other night for that matter. It’s sending the guests home with jars of house-made jam and accurate recipes. It’s whipping up a quick cake when you learn it’s the marina admin’s birthday. It’s not tossing lunch leftovers in the trash, but offering it to the dayworkers. It’s taking that extra few minutes when you clean out the galley to find a home for the groceries you don’t want, instead of sending them to the landfill. Food is energy for our bodies; we need it to survive. It’s about sending that energy out into the world, your world.

Nobody has to know if the treat you’re gifting them came from a $1.99 box mix. This is a scenario where it literally is the thought that counts. As in, “I thought I would like to celebrate you and your contribution to my life. Here, have some brownies.”

One further point of clarification: raisins are not Big Cookie Energy. Raisins are I-was-a-grape-who-could-have-been-used-to-make-wine-but-now-I’m-taking-up-valuable-cookie-space-that-could-be-used-for-chocolate-chip energy. Not only does nobody want that energy in a cookie, but you also don’t want to put that energy out in the world. Stick with the chips, and we’ll all be winners.

Secretly Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

> ½ cup coconut oil, solid (not melty, not in the slightest)
> 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
> ¼ cup maple syrup
> 2 tsp vanilla extract

iStock/LauriPatterson

> ¼ cup coconut milk
> ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
> 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour or GF flour
> 1 tsp baking soda
> ½ tsp salt
> 1 ¾ cups chocolate chips (use vegan chocolate chips if vegan), plus more for tops
> Flaky sea salt

Measure the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; briefly stir.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add in the coconut milk and applesauce and whisk hard until fluffy-ish and unified. Add dry ingredients. After a few stirs with a wooden spoon, dump in the chips. Keep stirring until just combined. It will be thick. Cover the dough and let sit in fridge.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop heaping tablespoon-sized mounds of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, spaced a couple inches apart. Bake eight to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just golden and the centers have set. As soon as they come out of oven, press three to five chocolate chips on top, and sprinkle with sea salt. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 15 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

This article originally ran in the March 2021 issue of Dockwalk.

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