Friday, February 11, 2011

Lets Talk Cookies

Although the previous post’s cookie picture might look good, the actual cookies were not. There was nothing actually wrong with them, I used the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package (well, actually we did end up tossing them after a suspected food poisoning incident between Clutterbuck and I the night I made them. However, the PC Blue Menu Chicken Pie was the prime suspect, but that’s a different story). No, these cookies turned out just fine….but they just weren’t….great. This made me start to think about all the different chocolate chip cookies I have had in my 27 years, which is A LOT! What was it about these cookies that I didn’t like and how were they different from other cookies I have liked.

To start, these cookies were very “cakey”, I prefer a chewy cookie (think grocery store bakery cookies). I also started to realize that I’ve never actually tasted any homemade cookies that were similar to the ones you buy in the bakery section at the grocery store, or another example would be Mrs. Fields cookies. Generally, I find homemade chocolate chip cookies are either thinner and crispier or puffy with a texture closer to cakes. We all try the same trick and pull them out of the oven before they are done to keep them a little soft, but that only works while they are fresh. Put them in a container for tomorrow and they are either cold undercooked cookies, or set up cakey cookies. This is not what I was going for.

So I set out to find ingredients more conducive to a chewy cookie. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Sifted pastry flour. This has a higher gluten content than all purpose flour. Bread flour is even higher but I didn’t want to buy a big thing of bread flour.
  • Melted butter. The heat of the melted butter helps the gluten to do its thing while mixing
  • Brown sugar, the darker the better. Brown sugar has molasses in it which definitely helps create a chewy cookie (or anything)
  • 2 eggs with one egg white removed. Yes, its true this is not a diet cookie, but egg whites actually dry out batter. I subbed in 2 tablespoons of milk as well to help moisten everything up
  • Chilled dough. This is key for so many reasons. The primary one is that it will prohibit your cookies melting into flat puddles on your cookie sheet, but it also gives the butter time to set back up and makes it a lot easier to roll the cookies out onto the cookie sheet
  • Check the cookies every 5 minutes. I ended up baking them for only 10 minutes and removed them only once the edges started to brown. I let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and moved them to a rack to cool. They were not undercooked, but were not overly browned or dried out either
I apologize that I have no picture because these were such a screaming success. Although, Clutterbuck’s only comment about them was “these have soooo much chocolate” which completely threw me off, because for a man who can eat an entire giant Toblerone bar in one sitting, I didn’t think anything could have too much chocolate. Anyway, there were other opinions and all were positive. These were, hands down, EXACTLY what I was trying to achieve. They were chewy and yummy and stayed that way for the week that it took to devour them.

For those that are interested here was the final recipe:

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning.

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