chocolate snaps, and learning to cook again

The weekends are tough. There’s just no way around it. Sure I can make plans to keep me and the girls busy from dawn to dusk, but the truth is I don’t enjoy running around like crazy. Saturdays and Sundays were always our time to relax as a family.

The only real plan I ever had was going to the market every Saturday morning. Thanks to some wonderful friends, I’ve been able to get back into that routine. I went to the market here in Carroll Gardens one week after Mikey died. I had no idea the emotions that would flood me—it was as torrential as the rain coming down that morning. As I looked about, staring blankly at tomatoes, peaches, and eggplants, tears welled up in my eyes, realizing that he would never again taste anything I cooked.

Much of my creativity in the kitchen has been on hold since August 7th. I’ve been cooking, but the candid, carefree nature with which I developed recipes is gone. Mikey was my inspiration, my muse and it hurts deeply to know I can’t share in a meal with him anymore.

I’ve been trying to get back on that horse the last seven weeks. While I haven’t shared any new recipes here, I have been cooking, and occassionally creating. Those new recipes are tucked away in a journal. I don’t know when I will be ready to share them. There’s some amazing stuff in there—a new banana biscuit cake, a variation on my concord grape muffins, a smoky zucchini & spinach ravioli dish.

And then there’s my recipe for fried chicken. That’s one I’ve kept close to the vest. Fried chicken was Mikey’s all-time favorite. Sara, Maggy, Melissa, Olga, Erin and Kim can tell you just how freakin’ crispy the skin is. Penny can even vouch for its goodness the day after—I’m guessing she ate it cold from the fridge, just as Mikey surely would’ve.

To help jumpstart my recipe development juices, I started reading through my older posts. I wanted to catch a glimpse of what it was like writing, and existing in general, while Mikey was still alive. I thought perhaps I could channel that energy, and I came across my recipe for chocolate snaps. I’m reposting it for you all to read. Both the recipe and words are very special, and reminded me that Mikey would want me to get back in the kitchen. He knew that for me, cooking was about so much more than feeding people. It was where I found my sense of self and purpose in so many ways.

Thank you to everyone for the emails, comments, tweets and amazing words of support. Here’s a little peek into how the story of Mikey and Jennie first started.


We sipped cappucinos at a little cafe in the Villlage. It may have been my first, now that I think about it. The rain thundered down, and we decided to make a run for the Mr.’s office to wait it out before making our way home. Lightening lit up the room as it flooded through the large picture windows. Butterflies took flight and my heart raced. As the thunder roared, we had our first kiss.

I remember that evening as if it was yesterday, and while 16 years have passed, two little girls have blossomed, and for better or worse has been tested, I am lucky enough to still feel that tingle that took over my tummy all those years ago.

Our life is quite busy now, but the moment I hear the front gate open, or his key turn the lock, my heart still skips a beat, sending me back to that moment we had when I was just 21. That is the most special gift not sold in stores. That tells you this one is a keeper, the one with whom you are meant to spend the rest of your life.

I met him when I was just a girl, and he has watched me grow into a woman.

His wife.

The mother of his children.

His soulmate—not because of where we came from, but where we want to be.

In a way, he knew my dreams before I did. He certainly gave me the push to go after them.

A chocolate recipe the day after Valentine’s may seem silly, but true love doesn’t last just one day. It lives in every word and glance you exchange. Its life beats in the little sparks you feel when your hands brush across each other. When you love someone, what really counts is how you love each other the other 364 days. Mark this recipe a keeper— like love you want to cherish it more than just once a year.


chocolate snaps

makes 90 cookies

This is the very first recipe I had published—so this is also an anniversary celebration. Ten years ago Rosemary Black from the New York Daily News contacted me to feature a chocolate cookie recipe for Valentine’s Day. A few people asked if there was anything I’d change about the original. The answer is not really. I cut back a tiny bit on the sugar and have rewritten the directions slightly, but for the most part, this recipe delivered the goods just as I remembered from 10 years ago.

One new thing I’ve discovered is you can freeze the formed cookie dough drops, similiar to what I do with my chocolate chip cookies, so you can enjoy a plate of warm cookies whenever the mood strikes. Cold milk is optional, but highly recommended for dunking.

And if these cookies taste familiar, then you might have the same chocolate snap memory that beckoned me to develop this recipe in the first place. They were orginally made by Nabisco and even inspired this conversation on Chow a few years back. In case your still unsure if we’re talking about the same chocolate snap cookie, then look at this picture and tell me if the box looks familiar.

1cup (129 grams) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons (6 grans) cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda

1/8 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1/2 cup (86 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, softened

1/4 cup (54 grams) sugar

1/4 cup (62 grams) brown sugar, light or dark

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

Place the choclate chips in a glass, microwave-safe bowl, and cook, uncovered, for 90 seconds, or until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla; beat for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl and beat for 1 more minute, until well-mixed.

Add the flour mixture, turn the mixer onto the lowest speed and mix until the flour is just incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn speed up to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds. The dough will look more like a thick cake batter than traditional cookie dough.

Fill a pastry bag and squeeze coin-sized dollops of dough 1-inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets. I can fit 24 cookies each on my half-sheet pans. Bake for 9 minutes, then remove sheets from the oven and let cool on the tray for two minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough, or see note for freezing formed cookies to bake at another time.

Freezer Note:

Place drops of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet—no need to leave too much space since you’re not baking them right now. Place the tray in the freezer until cookies set, about 20 minutes. Place formed cookies in a ziptop bag and remove as much air as possible. Freeze for up to one month. When ready to bake, follow directions, adding 1 extra minute to the cooking time, for a total of 10 minutes.


  • Polly

    Thanks, Jennie, for sharing your hard road with us, and for putting one foot in front of the other every day. Thanks for finding the heart of what was, and sharing it as food for the day as well as food for the heart. The cookies look great, and the memories that came with them are important. Food is, or can be, so much more than just something on the table.

  • Glenda

    You write so beautifully!! I can feel your love or Mikey through words… Through your writing! Chocolate snaps were my favorite!!! And dunking with a glass of cold milk… Heaven!!! Thanks for sharing Mikey with all of us!
    Peace and strength to you and the girls

  • Tracie

    Love the story. I am thinking of you often….so happy you are back in your kitchen. Many hugs from Kentucky 🙂 thanks for the recipe!

  • FFP

    Today I cried…I have read your pain and listened to the kindness of others that have been so strong and wise with their words. I have endured loss out of divorce. it has taken me years to get to a point of feeling like me again. Jennie, you amaze me. I feel shame and guilt for not being able to make it work. We never get yesterday back. I have alot to learn from you.
    I hope to one day share the chocolate snaps recipe with someone special. Thank you for the lessons of strength. You amaze me for through your pain, you continually teach through the heart.
    One day at a time…

  • Sami

    Beautiful post again, so heartfelt…beautiful story of the beginning of your love story. I will certainly try your chocolate snaps, hope they work as well with gluten free flour.

  • LittleBabyBlog

    I’m fairly new to your blog, so I’m learning your story in reverse. I’m so very sorry for your pain, and for your little girls’ pain. But your strength is evident in every word you write. I’ve already started a list of some of my favorite recipes on your blog and look forward to sharing them with my family. Your story has made me, and many, many others I’m sure, realize that life is short, love is beautiful, and every day should be treated like an opportunity to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Thank you for your words, and for your strength. You’re an inspiration.

  • Elizabeth

    Jennie, as I read your post sometimes I can continue to read and sometimes I stop and go back in a couple of days or two to finish reading your post. Why, because what happened to you happened to me 18 years ago and today that pain is still there with me. Sometimes I don’t think it is good to be so close to the one you love and then other times I’m glad I was close. Lucky for you that you still have your children that is part of your husband left behind for you. For me, I wasn’t that fortunate, we had no children. He was my best friend forever as well as my husband and all I have is his voice on a recorder as he was talking to his mother which I play when I need to hear his voice. I know I should be so fortunate to have had my husband for the time he was here on earth but sometimes I wonder why he was taken from me. Then sometimes I feel his presence when times get rough and I know he is watching over me. I never know what tomorrow will bring, I just take each day at a time because that is all I can handle. And I do the best I know how in that 24 hours. I know what you are going through and it sure brings back a lot of memories the way tings were the same things you talk about. Things will be better for you, but nothing will bring him back and you just have to go through the mourning of his loss before you can even find your own self again. Talking it out is the best because friends and family are the ones that you want right now as well as your children. I’m so glad you have your children. They will help you in more ways that you can ever imagine possible. I’ll say a special prayer for you.

  • Anna

    Jenny, keep it going! This is a wonderful post and I am looking forward to the day when you post your new recipes because that will mean that you are one step closer to find your peace.

  • Linda Walmer

    Thanks for sharing your heart. Life is hard at its very best. Your family has been delt a heavy blow. You are on your way back to living again. You loss will always be with you but know this; Your husband would want you to “keep going”. He had faith in you.

  • Kristi

    These cookies sound delicious and I will make them this weekend for my daughter’s birthday.
    I’ve been reading your blog only a few weeks now. My heart breaks for you and your girls, but I am inspired by your determination to keep moving forward for all of you. Each post I read reminds me to enjoy each day with my family, to forget about the small irritations, and to take time for one more story, one more hug, one more kiss. Thank you for sharing your love story and the lessons you’re learning along the way.

  • Rachel Willen@FoodFix

    Jennie, I feel you and the bittersweet nature of getting back to the kitchen. My mom was a chef, my best friend and my cooking muse. When she passed as a result of a car accident…I often found my self in the kitchen weeping as I cooked. But eventually it was the thing that connected me to her…
    This cookie is right up my alley. I think they are perfect for Halloween too. Dark as a cloudless night! Can’t give out homemade things for Trick or Treaters but I will definitely make a batch for my Halloween night driveway party where neighbors and parents can stop by for a treat while making their rounds.

  • Katy

    Hi Jennie,
    I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss. I am actually the woman who saw your husband collapse on Henry Street and ran across the street to call 911 and talk to your daughter. I went back to Bar Bruno the next day hoping for a miracle and they told me the tragic news. When I was telling one of my friends what had happened that Sunday while I went for a walk with my newborn, she told me about your blog (she’s a regular follower) and we realized you were the same person. I just wanted to express my condolences to you and let you know that I think of you and your family often. I wish I could have done more to help. You seem like an extremely strong woman; your daughters are lucky to have you for a mother. Be well, Katy.

  • Cheryl Mathews

    Jennie, I read your post this morning with tears streaming down my face. I lost my husband 11/4/11 very suddenly, very unexpectedly. Now approaching 1 year since he left us. I promise that you will have days when you can laugh, days when your focus on the business of living. Coping does get easier, but every now and then as for me while reading your posting, you will lose control and just weep. I believe that to cry and grieve openly is to heal, one tiny inch at a time. Warm hugs and blessings to you Jennie, and thank you so much for sharing your story.
    Cheryl Mathews

  • SuzyMcQ

    I was so happy to see your post today, Jennie. It means that you are putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Not forgetting, but remembering and sharing. You remain an inspiration to all of us who have loved and lost someone special. Thank you for your bittersweet reminder to seize each and every day and fill it with love and sweetness.

  • Mianna

    Hi Jennie,
    Your writing is beautiful and expresses the pain of losing someone so eloquently. My family is a “food” family thanks to a Mom who shares her love through her cooking and introduced all 6 of us kids to foods and cuisines that most kids never tried when we were growing up. We all love to cook and create. We lost 2 of our brothers who loved eating, creating and discovering, I miss them every day and am sorry for all of times that I got mad at them for stealing the cookies fresh from the pan as I baked them! Your pain is heartbreaking to lose your love, my heart aches to see your loss as my sister-in-law struggles a year later. Bless you, thank you and hug your girls.

  • Ann

    I’m glad you’re taking those steps to heal. I’ve been thinking of you and the cookies look delicious. I’m happy to see you coming back.

  • Angie @ Bigbearswife

    I love reading your post. I love your writing. I so want to reach out and hug you and try to offer words to make you smile. But I don’t know what to do or say. Sometimes I see your tweets and want to comment or smile from the internet at you but I feel like an intruder sometimes, as though, you’d feel like I’d over stepped. But even though I’ve never met you, I think of you oftne. I have read about the love between you and Mikey and it warms my heart. It’s changed the way my husband and I are. we are not really fighters, we don’t fight a lot, but when we have little arguments now, you’re in the back of my head, “What would Jenni say about this, she’d probably say you’re being an idiot fighting over this, something so small”. I look at things different now. I mean I’ve always tried to never take things for granted, but you’ve put that fresh in my mind, and even though I know these words will never mend a broken heart; Thank you. I think you’re so wonderful, and I know your girls think the same.

  • Stephanie

    Another beautifully written post, Jennie. I’ve been asking myself why I am so drawn to your blog? Why do I “check in on you” every day? Even yesterday, I was cooking dinner for my loved one and you popped into my mind- I was trying a new recipe and I wondered, “What would Jennie’s take be on this recipe?” I don’t even know you, but I feel like I do in a way.
    I started thinking…and I think I’ve figured out why I- and so many other people are following you so closely in this unknown journey you have unexpectedly been put on….we are all rooting for you. Any one of us could be in your shoes, and it is amazing to see such a strong woman handling a shitty situation with such grace and raw honesty. So in retort to the rude comment you received the other day…in my humble opinion, you already HAVE pulled your socks up and you are taking small steps, much like a newly walking child would..stumbling forward, falling down a bit- but always trying again to move forward to find happiness again. Thank you for sharing this experience.
    All the best to you and yours.

  • allyson

    I feel honoured to read your blog, and of your love. Looking forward to trying this recipe and sharing it with my treasured family.

  • Vaishali Sharda

    Hey Jennie…making your tomato jam today…have been reading your posts and thinking a lot about you. Sending positive thoughts and hugs from Alabama. You are such an inspiration. Enjoy your Seattle trip with the girls and company of your good friends. Take care!!

  • zj

    Hi Jennie – I came upon the blog through the ‘A Pie for Mikey’ video and was deeply moved. I wish you well, and the strength to face each day as they come. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dianne

    Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am in the midst of “life”. Your strength and determination are amazing. Keeping you in my prayers…

  • Nancy

    Your story made me cry as it opened up my old wound that I thought had been healed. My love for food began with my relationship with my Kiwi boyfriend, which has taken an unfortunate turn. I feel still lost and confused looking for something to hold on to. But cooking isn’t as fun as when you have someone to share that with. I treasure this unexpected finding today and thank you for sharing your hard story. I am interested in reading more stories here. Ah, I promise I try this recipe.

  • Elizabeth A. Summers

    Beautiful post and memory AND a special thank you for posting weights. I’ve started baking by weight and it makes a huge difference in quality and consistency for me.

  • Lisa M

    I am very new to your post and have been following for about five weeks or so. I am so sorry for your loss. I can feel your pain in your writing, but am glad you are able to express yourself so freely here on your blog. I pray peace and healing comes to you. I was intrigued today when you mentioned your concord grape muffins. I have a grape arbor that I harvest grapes from every year to make grape pie filling. My mom and I do it together. People always grimace when I say “grape pie”…that is until they try it! I actually shell the grapes, boil the pulp then put it through a sieve to “de-seed”. Easy seeding, but shelling the grapes takes some time, especially because it takes three cups of whole grapes to make one pie. It is a day of fun and bonding though. Last year we made enough for 36 pies (we freeze in individual pie servings) and this year we make enough for 30 pies. I have so many grapes left over on the vines and I cannot wait to try these muffins!! I love when I can use my harvest!

  • Roz@weightingfor50

    Hi Jennie. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing, both the recipe, and glimpses into your life! You and obviously an amazing woman, and your girls are VERY VERY lucky…. As always, sending warm wishes and thoughts across the continent to you!!

  • Elizabeth A. Summers

    Oh, my…made these today and they are wonderful. I baked 1/2, froze 1/2. So nice to know there are warm cookies minutes away.

  • Tracy

    These cookies were magnificent. I really wasn’t sure whether they’d be too crunchy or not but it’s so simple and we had everything on hand. The batter reminds me of chocolate salt water taffy. I’ve been making more cookies that can be frozen and baked when needed and these are prefect. We’ll get that fresh from the oven treat to share with the family whenever cookies are called for, which might be all the time. I’ve been following your blog since I read about your peanut butter pie memorial on bakerella’s blog. You have given us all a gift in sharing your stories about Mikey’s life, your loss, and your path forward. I hug my boys tighter and worry less about what could be and focus on the what is now. Thank you.

  • Gale

    It has been 1 year since my husband died. Six months from the cancer diagnosis and he was gone. You mused about a loved one having an illness instead of the sudden death you experienced, believe me, my kids and I feel my husband was gone once we received the diagnosis. With melanoma, you know it is a life sentence. My poor daughter, doing her PhD in cancer research, knew better than us all. You have shared so many feelings I have been afraid to vocalize. Will I ever feel loved again? Pardon me for unburdening myself here. Reading your entries has been a salve for me, as I hope writing them has been for you.

  • Ushi Nottnagel

    Dear Jennie,
    Oh, yeah, I know what your heart is saying in those lovely words.
    I can relate to feelings and needs. My husband died June 17, after a struggle with cancer. Though no shock and no two little girls either (kids are grown-ups), I find weekends the hardest too. I am constantly missing something (keys, purse, phone), have to concentrate to do simple tasks. Last week I turned around in the bathroom and swung my iPhone into the toilet. It died, together with the last few voice messages of my husband. The $340 replacement costs were nothing to the sadness I felt.
    What helps me the most is walking in nature, swimming. and massage. ANd by the way, month four was a little(!) easier than month three.

  • caroline

    First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss. I have to admit to feeling a little voyeuristic reading your posts since August. Someone, I can’t remember who, had mentioned you on their blog and I clicked out of curiosity. Since then I’ve gone back and read most of your past posts because your food writing is awesome. But, of course, I also read your current posts and usually get a little teary-eyed. I admire how strong you’re being, and wonder if I would be as strong, or if I would have the obvious comfort you have from knowing that you and your husband appreciated every minute together. Sometimes, I’m pretty impatient with my “soulmate’ about stupid things like towels on the floor and socks in the middle of the living room. Your wonderful writing reminds all of us to live more consciously.

  • von

    Hi Jennie, just checking in on yah. So sweet that you found your soul mate in Mikey. Some people never do.

  • kim/hormone-colored days

    What a first kiss.
    I think of you and your girls almost every day. Hugs to you all. In terms of grief and recipes, what you share here is your choice and it always seems just right.
    Those cookies look fabulous. I haven’t planned a meal for the week, but I am going to bake those cookies.

  • MAG

    Go Girl !! You have the strengh and wisdom to carry you in whatever journey life takes you …. Because you are one Brave & Beautiful + UNSELFISH person that is few and far from other traits I see … Considering the circumstances surrounding your life today , you’re one astounding woman for sure! Just wanna share another beautiful site I’ve been reading lately and have found recently , please check out a blog called “channelingerik” , as it’s a wonderful blog about afterlife and finding a medium to connect to our love ones thereafter in another form .. And it’s therapheudic & comforting in my opinion to be able to connect somehow…Hope the blog can help you.I found the link indirectly thru pioneer woman’s blog and have been reading it for the last 24 hours so far….Hope this helps ! Take care always . Hugs from everyone that cares about You

  • Kim in MD

    You are such a beautiful writer, Jennie. Like so many others, I didn’t know about your blog before Mikey’s death. I stumbled upon your blog through the peanut butter pie post on another blog. I have fallen in love with your writing style, so when you are ready to start posting recipes again I will be reading. Until then, do what you have to do to get through each day…

  • Brittany

    forgive me if i sound trite, but it seems as if you two had something that most people NEVER find. i think that’s very, very special. <3

  • jamie

    thinking of you and hoping your days are getting better…..i think of my days as ratios. hope yours are becoming more good than sad.

  • Maggie Green

    I am new to your blog and plan to try several of your recipes. This post brought tears to my eyes. You see, I know what it’s like to lose someone you love so very, very much. It is wonderful that you have honored him through something you love to do. Best wishes to you and your girls.