Thanks to everyone for the great cookie tips. I'm gonna try a lot of the recipes, and I'm sure lots of onlookers have been inspired to get baking as well (let's compare notes!).
But one comment especially caught my attention. At the bottom of one recipe, it was noted that batter can be frozen or refrigerated, and so fresh batches can be baked without having to undergo the full hassle every single time.
This sounds like The Answer to me. While I was looking for a no-sweat recipe ('cuz I'm pressed for time), I wouldn't mind tackling something much more ambitious and involved if it would provide enduring cookie enjoyment. Shoot, I'll make up a triple recipe's worth, and get through the whole winter...baking off three or four cookies at a time!
So...question: can I refrigerate or freeze bits of ANY of these recipes? Or are there certain ones where this strategy wouldn't work?
Also, I just realized...I'm looking for something simple, non froufrou, and the pure distilled essence of American cookieness. I'll go through John Thorne's books and see what he's got. Not sure why I didn't start that way; maybe because I'm so used to reading them as literature rather than as anything pragmatic for my life.
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