Friday, March 16, 2012


This is going to sound strange, but I had a moment in the kitchen that gave me an idea for character development. I was using a new recipe to make chocolate chip cookies that involved browning the butter (essentially, cooking it on the stovetop until it turns brown) and then whisking in the sugar, salt and eggs. It’s a technique that’s very different than I usually use (typically, I cream the butter and sugar together for three to five minutes in my stand mixer).

I was faced with an interesting challenge during this baking project. When I bake, I typically cut the sugar in half. Because the browning of the butter is supposed to make the sugar more prominent, I debated cutting it even further. Then I decided that this was the first time I was making the recipe so I shouldn’t mess with it too much. I put in half the sugar, added the rest of the ingredients and then baked.

The cookies were good but to my taste, they were too sweet. I decided that next time, I’m going to reduce the sugar even further and see what happens.

This whole process made me think about Malory, one of my characters, who doesn’t have much use for school but really enjoying baking and cooking. Malory’s ambition in life is to own a cupcake shop in New York when she’s grown up that tries to have relatively healthy ingredients by reducing fat and sugar whenever possible without sacrificing taste. I envisioned this whole scene where Malory is in the kitchen her dormitory, trying to come up with a recipe for cookies that has very little sugar in it. And then I had this strange moment where I was hearing Malory’s voice in my head as I whisked together the browned butter and the sugar and thought that it would be really fun, if my book gets published, to include recipes and techniques like this as a kind of add on.