Friday, August 20, 2010
2010: A Cookie Odd-essy
The chocolate chip cookie. So so simple, yet so complex. It has deep seeded meaning for a lot of us as it is typical cookie of our youth. My mom makes awesome chocolate chippers... she has a deceptively simple recipe with one minor modification that makes them really good, but that's her secret to tell. A couple weeks back, my friend and fellow blogger Stephanie published a "before 30 list." My friend Nas is doing the same and it is with some small regret that it's too late for me to do the exact same. I figure that I have 6 years until 40 and was always a bit of a late bloomer, so I'll get to my version eventually. Back to topic, one of Stephanie's desires was to find an excellent chocolate chip recipe. I thought "oooo, fun!" and decided to play along. The weekend we were both going to try recipes, however, I got busy, then ended up making scratch brownies and she (no shame here, I too am an instant gratification junky) got some premade dough. I can't be trusted w/ premade dough, as none would end up in the oven and all would end up in my mouth raw.
So weekend one was a loss. With guests in and out all week and weekend, no cookies were to be made the next weekend either. Then Alex had to get a Pentacil shot which makes him fussy and sore, so there was a couple more days shot. In the meantime, I researched recipes. It was a pretty consistent recipe between all sources, including my professional pastry books. It was as if they were all trying to tell me that changing a classic like chocolate chips cookies would be akin to putting a squiggly mustache on the Mona Lisa. I thumb my nose at you all, pastry gods, I shall change it despite you!
Yesterday.... yesterday was awesome. Alex was an angel all day, sweet, snuggly and ready to play on his own some. The Sunbeam mixer was a callin,' so I dragged his jumparoo into the kitchen and pulled out ingredients.
I was short on one thing, made some decisions on modifications on others, and crossed my fingers. I knew there was no way I was going to make perfect cookies on the first try. I was soooo wrong. It was multiple things working against you to turn out the best possible outcome. Don't you love when that happens?? I think it started with the chips. I used a bag of Ghiradelli bitter sweet chips instead of the usual semi-sweet.
I like a bit of bite to my chocolate. And I realllly like Ghiradelli, can you tell? The chips themselves were shorter but had a fatter footprint. Of course I ate a couple before I even started, and boy were they good! It took a lot of will power not to forget the cookies and pop them like candy instead. I then dragged out all my ingredients and tools. My mom taught me that long ago, but it wasn't until recently that I put this baking "rule" to good use. I had everything but 2 tablespoons of butter. Just 2 tablespoons short! Argh. So I thought... WWDD? Yup, time to channel Dennis, my brilliant chef husband. While he may not enjoy baking like I do, I have picked up little bits and pieces from him in the kitchen. Now remember, baking is science. It's not like cooking where you have a lot of room to experiment. But I am professor Bunsen and will risk the soot on my face in order to get what I want.
So, knowing that olive oil has a higher burn temp than butter and knowing that the first thing in a cookie to burn is the sugar and butter, I said "screw it" and sub'd in 2 TBS of EVO for the missing butter. Then I had some decisions to make. I don't care for my cookies to be too too sweet. One of the ways to remedy this is to change sugars. Hmmm... do I use all brown sugar? Do I keep the recipe as is? I decided that since I was using bitter sweet chocolate, that a bit of sweetness in the cookie was okay, so I rebalanced the sugar from half and half to mostly brown, but I did keep some white in there to counteract the bitterness. Last but not least is my desire for all happy-place foods to have an element of sweet and salty. The sweet was already there, so in addition to the normally called for kosher salt, I used salted sweet cream butter. I'm a butter junky, so I recommend Land O' Lakes rather than store brand. Please, for the love of Roscoe don't use margarine. Best case scenario would be to use good Irish butter, but having neither the place to purchase nor the extra pennies to spare, name brand butter was good enough.
Here comes my lesson of the day, as I always learn something new when I bake. If your baking sheet looks like crap and you wouldn't put dough directly on it, DON'T USE IT. Using parchment or foil over a crappy pan will still yield you burnt cookies. Thank goodness I was making monster mutant size cookies, so I only lost 5 to this lesson, but they were the first 5 to come out of the oven. I shed one salty tear over their trashy grave and moved on.
The final product was fantastic. I think the EVO substitution was the trick, as they were soft and chewy at the same time. I will tell you that it is really easy to over bake them as they don't brown as darkly as the full butter version will, so tread carefully. So here is my modif-antastic recipe:
2 large bowls (that fit your stand mixer if you have one)
Stand mixer or hand mixer (if you have to spoon blend due to lack of equipment, just make sure you mix and mix and mix and mix with a wooden spoon. Get your hands into it if necessary!)
1 rubber scraper
1 teacup or small bowl to crack eggs on
Clean baking sheets in good repair
Roll of Parchment paper or EVO cooking spray (not regular Pam, use the EVO kind to prevent scorched bottoms)
2 tablespoons (the kind you eat with)
Measuring cups and spoons
3 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp kosher salt (better than table salt!!)
1 stick and and 6 TBS good salted butter (don't be cheap!)
2 TBS EVO
2 cups light brown sugar
.5 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 bag Ghiradelli BITTER SWEET chips (don't compromise, they just won't be the same)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat together butter, EVO and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.
Scoop 1/4 cup batter (or more for giant cookies)
for each, arranging mounds 2 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, for 10 minutes to start, then check for color every 2 minutes thereafter. You know they are done when they are golden, not beige and not brown. Certainly not black! Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.
I hope you enjoy this, and if you try it and have feedback, let me know!