Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I love hearts, flowers, chocolate, and almost anything red and pink, and I particularly appreciate this reminder to let my loved ones – romantic or not – know that they are special. The best way I know to express this is always with something homemade.
For years I have been looking for a really great chocolate chip cookie recipe. Recently, I was going through my cookbooks as part of a kitchen de-clutter challenge from professional organizer Melissa Schmalenberger, aka Ms. Simplicity to Forum readers. I wasn’t very good at this part of the challenge, because I have a tendency to become easily distracted by cookbooks – an occupational hazard. I came across a cookbook called “Cooking Adventures from the Clipper Galley,” and an hour later I was still tripping down Memory Lane.
Tony and I both began, and ended, our shipboard careers with Clipper Cruise Line, a small, luxury-expedition line known for its destination-focused itineraries, friendly crew, relaxed atmosphere, and amazing food. Everything on board a Clipper ship was made from scratch and often inspired by the regions we visited, and there were many dishes which became passenger favorites.
Clipper had a generous policy of sharing their recipes with our guests upon request, and one recipe was requested more than any other, and even featured in Bon Appetit magazine: the decadent, amazing Clipper Chipper.
When I stumbled upon this recipe I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. Now no longer in existence, Clipper Cruise Line once owned and operated five vessels during our time with them, with diverse itineraries including America’s Coastal Waterways, Alaska’s Inside Passage, Western Medieval Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Norwegian High Arctic, Jungle Rivers of South America, and even the Antarctic Peninsula. But it didn’t matter which ship we were on, or where in the world we were: every afternoon at 4:30 the Pastry Chef would appear in the forward Observation Lounge with a heaping tray of warm Clipper Chippers.
Finding this recipe reminded me of the special times Tony and I shared together aboard those ships, and the excellent, dedicated professionals we were blessed to know as colleagues. “Cooking Adventures” was the creation of Chef Robert (Bobby) Colosimo, who was the Director of Food Service for the line during our tenure. Bobby was a wonderful mentor, the kind who made you strive to exceed his impossibly high standards, but almost always with a kind word and a smile.
With ingredients including two bags of milk chocolate chips, two different liqueurs (Frangelico and Tia Maria), and three different kinds of nuts, these are no ordinary chocolate chip cookies. But they are worth the investment – every bite is filled with what Giovanni calls “rich chocolate nuttiness.” Enjoy them with your favorite cordial or liqueur, or my drink of choice – a nice, cold glass of milk.
One Clipper Chipper is never enough, so I use my smallest ice cream scoop to drop the cookies and end up with about five dozen. The dough is refrigerated overnight, which allows the liqueurs to infuse the cookies with flavor and tenderness. It can also be prepared and refrigerated several days in advance, and freezes well for future use.
Just the smell of these cookies baking in my home brought the memories flooding back, reminding Tony and me of a time when we were young, adventurous, carefree and oh, so in love. I knew immediately that I had not only found my go-to chocolate chip cookie, but also my gift idea for this Valentine’s Day.
CLICK HERE for the Clipper Chipper Cookie Recipe
FYI: Chef Bobby is now working as the General Manager at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, a St. Louis restaurant owned by Paul and Wendy Hamilton, two more friends from our Clipper Cruise Line days. We have recommended this venue to many of our guests who travel to St. Louis, and always hear rave reviews when they return. If you’re ever in St. Louis, be sure to stop in for dinner!