Forks up, Phoenix! Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row present the third annual Pie Social Saturday, November 3rd, from 2 to 6 p.m. on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. We've got an all-star line up of bakers making pies for you to taste, and from now til Pie Social, we'll introduce them to you, one by one.
Today: Karen Olson of Vonceil's Pies makes chocolate chip cookies.
Karen Olson opens the door to her Tempe apartment in gym shorts and a University of Glasgow t-shirt, hair in a bun, and dark framed eyeglasses.
She returned from working out just minutes prior to our arrival, she says.
A Whole Foods bag stands on the kitchen island -- filled with baking supplies, ready to be unpacked.
Indie-folk music starts to play as she collects all the ingredients needed for the chocolate chip cookies she will be making today.
"Laura Marling," Olson says, referring to the music. "You gotta have music to cook to...sometimes it's Bowie or Michael Jackson, instead."
After graduating in 2010 from Arizona State University with a degree in math, Olson didn't know what to do with her degree.
She says that during her studies at ASU she went to Scotland to study through ASU's honors college, and this is where -- together with her 11 roommates -- she would bake a lot of cookies.
Her baking didn't begin in Scotland, however.
At the age of 14, she made her first pumpkin pie using her great-grandmother's piecrust recipe.
"I went through whole batches of dough because it wasn't fit to eat," she says, quoting her grandmother. By "fit to eat," she says she means that the dough wasn't perfect and would sometimes tear or not be perfectly formed.
Her business is named for Vonceil, her grandmother.
As she speaks about the origin of her love for pie (she really loves pie), she mixes up flour, chocolate chips, eggs, and a variety of other ingredients in a brightly colored plastic mixing bowl.
"I like Trader Joe's recipe for chocolate chip cookies," she admits, holding up the empty bag of chocolate chips that has the recipe printed on the back. "I just add extra vanilla."
By contrast, she creates her own pie recipes and loves to mix up flavors in all sorts of ways.
When her sister, Lisa (who owns Practical Art in Phoenix), got married recently, she made several pies for the event, including two blueberry pies, her brother-in-law's favorite.
Also a fig and strawberry pie and also a peach and blackberry pie with Gruyere cheese crust. The most popular items: cinnamon sugar pie rolls.
Olson has been making pies for Practical Art's Third Friday's Pie Social event for some time now and she says it draws a bigger crowd each month.
By now, several sheet pans filled with cooling chocolate chip cookies are resting on top of the stove and counter. The timer for yet another finished batch goes off and the smell of warm cookies spreads throughout the kitchen.
Olson grabs a giant container and two Ziploc bags from a kitchen drawer and fills both with cookies.
Her Red Robin co-workers will be very happy.
Here's the recipe for the cookies:
2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 cup softened butter 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 eggs 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well.
Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto non-greased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes.
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