By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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I've experienced these cookies, Lori Kegler of San Pedro, Calif., wrote.
“They are big, goopy on the inside, crunchy chewy on the outside, and they taste of vanilla, salt and carmelized sugar.”
In her own kitchen, Kegler had failed to re-create these chocolate chip cookies. But she could not forget these sweet slabs, which are the size of a bread plate — nor their source, Oven Spoonful in downtown Port Angeles.
She wrote to the Times: “Could you help me,” by asking the cafe for the recipe?
So began six months of back-and-forth between Oven Spoonful co-owner Karen Long and the Los Angeles Times test kitchen.
But when the first email came to her from the giant Southern California newspaper, circulation around 433,000, “I thought it was a hoax,” Long recalled. She soon learned it was real, just like the people who've been walking in her door, looking for a cookie.
Since the recipe was published in February in the Times as well as in the Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., the sweet-toothed shoppers have found their way to Oven Spoonful, the cafe at 110 E. First St., east of the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain at First and Laurel streets.
“We've had people come in and buy the whole plate,” said Jasmine Long, Karen's daughter and Oven Spoonful's barista manager.
Cookie-baking has just about tripled. But Karen's husband, chef Dave Long, still puts out batches of just 10 at a time, steadily replenishing the cookies as they vanish.
The Longs are marking their seventh anniversary in downtown Port Angeles, as well as their second anniversary of expanding into the former Itty Bitty Buzz location. Here, Dave practices the art and science he learned as a boy. His mother and grandmother taught him to cook while he was growing up in Alliance, Neb., and then in a few cities in California.
He later went to formal cooking school at South Seattle Community College. He and Karen married in 1982, and have since developed their complementary skills.
“He's got a good palate,” Karen said. “I'm his marketeer.”
Oven Spoonful's chocolate-chip cookies, priced at $2.50, are affectionately called “a quarter pound with chips,” Karen added. Yes, they truly weigh a quarter pound. And though the Los Angeles Times' version of the recipe calls for granulated sugar and plain salt, Dave uses organic cane juice and kosher salt.
“Everything matters to him,” said Karen.
“Kosher salt is a little less processed, less refined,” as is the cane juice.
“What's really sweet,” she added, “is when we can get farm-fresh eggs.”
Oven Spoonful, which also has sandwiches, quiche, espresso drinks and other treats, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and can be reached at 360-457-OVEN (6836). The cafe also participates in downtown Port Angeles' Second Weekend art walk, and this Saturday [April 12] will hold an opening reception with artist Johnnie Shoemaker, who has adorned the walls with his paintings. The event will go from 6 p.m. till 7 p.m., “later if a crowd arrives,” said Karen.