sierra nuggets

I am thoroughly convinced that food has a very quantitative power to bring warmth and a general spirit of goodwill to an otherwise busy and self absorbed culture. The simple delight of a freshly baked cookie, for example, can bring smiles and encourage conversation the same way your uncle’s bear-hug might, while the quintessential aroma of something sweet in the oven can animate even the most frigid of hearts with a childlike buoyancy.

There is one cookie recipe from my childhood that holds this very power over me: a hodge-podge by the name of Sierra Nugget. This spicy, crisp and chewy cookie has been a part of my baking repertoire for as long as memory can grasp, and my gratitude for its presence in my life can only rightfully be directed to its creator, Guittard Chocolate Company. Although known in the baking world for producing high quality chocolate products, the name would mean nothing to me if it weren’t for the Sierra Nuggets recipe that appeared on our bag of real semisweet chocolate chips 25 years ago. As it stands, though, were I to meet the Guittard family, chances are I would hug them.

I would like to believe that good chocolate has facilitated many a warm embrace, although, with Guittard and me, it’s much more than just good chocolate at work: there has been a fair amount of butter, brown sugar and coconut in our relationship. It began with little me sitting on the counter measuring out dry ingredients under my mom’s supervision. We had the chocolate chip bag for guidance and took for granted that each new bag would include our favorite recipe, but when Guittard disappeared from the shelves for a while in my elementary school years, we were thankful to have an empty bag stashed safely in our messy recipe drawer.

I can remember stealing my fingers into the bowl with each new ingredient addition- after all, cooking is a very tactile experience- and over the years these intermittent samples have come to be known as tasting phases. Part of the perfect allure of the sierra nugget is that its tasting phases are numerous and varied, with each building on the layered flavors of the last, starting with the creamed butter and sugars. I usually wind up eating enough pre-cookie that it takes a serious effort to get one down when I pull them fresh from the oven. Nonetheless, my cookie dough consumption remains unaltered, and has possibly even increased over the years. If you had the recipe for the best cookie dough in the world, you would do the same thing.

Which leads me to the point: below you’ll find the recipe for my precious Sierra Nuggets. Why not support the ingenuity of the family that created such a masterpiece and buy yourself a bag of Guittard real semisweet chocolate chips? Overindulge in one of life’s greatest pleasures: digging your fingers into the world’s best cookie dough. If you’re smarter than I, you might even save some room for a cookie at the end.

Sierra Nuggets
makes about 6 dozen

1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup corn flakes (crumbled)
3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups (12 ounces) guittard real semitsweet chocolate chips

Lightly grease cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add milk, vanilla and beaten eggs and mix well. One at a time, stir in corn flakes, oats, dry ingredients, coconut, and chocolate chips, just until each addition is incorporated.

Drop dough by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes; let stand 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets.


One Comment

  1. molly
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    So glad I found this here; it’s no longer on the back of the Guittard pkgs!

    Thank you!

    San Francisco, California

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