In search of the ultimate cookie recipe, Wittgenstein and others of his ilk will demand—in various languages—“Just what IS a cookie?” At which point some passionate egghead steeped in negative logic will say, “It is easier to say what a cookie IS NOT than to say what a cookie IS!” and will hurl a plate of biscotti against the back wall of the bar.
In the end, a cookie is a cookie is a cookie, a mixture of flour, sugar and butter usually with a leavening agent and perhaps, for richness, eggs. These ingredients constitute the Ur-cookie, and the following recipe has endless variations: add cocoa for chocolate cookies, oatmeal for oatmeal cookies, pecans for pecan cookies, peanut butter for peanut butter cookies, and so on and so forth.
These can be topped with a sugar frosting, a glaze or sprinkles, or chopped nuts. You can add food coloring to make them magenta, chartreuse or cyan. You can cut them into any shape using traditional cookie cutters or you can use a knife if you’re feeling (or are) artistic. For true inspiration, make them with children at your elbow.
BASIC COOKIE DOUGH
1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Cream butter with sugars; mix well. Add eggs, vanilla and then flour, sifted with salt and baking soda, a little at a time. Bake at 350 degrees on a flat, heavy baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool thoroughly before frosting.