Thursday, February 27, 2014

a cookie interlude

a cookie interlude

this is happiness.  this is the cookie.

This is the result of many, many, many experiments with the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I tried all my favorite authors: Ree Drummond, they ate them, and then scorned them.  The Martha’s, hers were better, but they GOT BORED! (you read it right) with them, Williams Sonoma—marginally better, but I ended up throwing some out because they were stale—can you tell my kids are cookie snobs?, even Bobby Flay’s throwdown cookies which required two different types of muscovado sugar.  Crazy.  I was ready to give up, then the heavens parted and I was granted a reprieve.

I have been following a site called Food 52.  On it they feature just about everything, recipes, cool tools, you name it.  So one day I saw the recipe for THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE , by an enormously talented pastry chef by the name of Phyllis Grant who writes a food blog.  (If you click on the orange letters, it’ll lead you straight to the link for the site, PG's recipe featured on Food 52 or the item I mention.)

This recipe has saved us.  The children go through about 3 ½ dozen every two weeks!  I’m just happy we’ve got cookies, and our jar is never empty. So here is my step-by-step of this recipe which, as Phyllis says, “is deeply rooted in the Toll House tradition”—and yes, before you ask, I tried that one too.  (This is my altered version of Grant's recipe--her ingredients are different, they include nuts.  We feel we're nutty enough without them in our cookies.)

The ingredients:                          

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
tsp baking soda
2 sticks of unsalted room  temperature butter
2 eggs
2 cups and 2 TB flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
½ cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

First things first.

  Preheat your oven to 375° and don’t trust it.

Buy an oven thermometer.  Trust me on this.  Your oven lies to you.  It says one thing and cooks at a different rate.  It makes your cakes fall, your chicken under cook.  They are between $5-15.  Mine has been vetted by Cooks Illustrated, and it has (so far) held up longer than any other one I’ve had (and it's less than $5).  You need one.  GET ONE!

STEP 1: So preheat your oven to 375° (and make sure it is at that temperature before you bake.)

 STEP 2: Next, sift together your flour, baking soda, and salt.  (I do this on a piece of wax paper.  It’s nifty because then I can use it as a tube to feed it into the dough mixture.  You’ll see, I’ve got a picture of it.)  Set it aside for now.

STEP 3: Set up your cookie sheets with parchment paper (I like this better because I can get more cookies on a sheet.)  

STEP 4: On medium speed on your mixer—which is about 4—attach your paddle attachment, and cream the butter and sugars together until light.  THIS TAKES 4 engrossing minutes people.  Do.Not.Shorten.

Then scrape down the sides. 

STEP 5 & 6: Add an egg.  Mix for 5 seconds.  Scrape.  Add the second egg.  Mix. Scrape.

  STEP 8: Add the vanilla.  Mix for 5 seconds.  Scrape.

STEP 9: Add the flour in 4 batches, stopping before the final batch. 

Roll up the wax paper
and tuck in the ends on one side.
Instant flour funnel!

STEP 9A: Take your flour and add in a bit, set the mixer to “mix” so that it incorporates well.  Stop.  Scrape.  9B: Add a bit more.  Stop.  Scrape.  9C: Add some more.  Stop.  Scrape.

STEP 10: Now add the whole bag of chips.  All of ‘em.  It will be fine.  Also add the last bit of flour. Mix until you see no more flour.  If the chips crush, totally fine.  It’s all good.

STEP 11: Take a cookie scoop and scoop out even amounts on the parchment paper. 

[Scoops are practical tools, and not that expensive.  If you are reluctant to buy it, use a tablespoon.  You want the dough to be around the same amount.]

Leave some room for the cookies to spread.  I can get a dozen on a sheet.   

STEP 12: Place the sheet pan in the oven.  And here now, only ONE sheet at a time.  
One tray at a time!
It's too hard to regulate
temperature otherwise.

Then set your timer for about 8 minutes to start.  And wait around your oven.  Hang out.  Flip through a magazine you never get time to read.  Read a few pages of the novel you want to finish for your book group.  Play on your kid’s DS. Have a cup of tea, I'm digging the OE's TeBella's Golden Monkey lately. Whatever, just don’t leave yet. 

not quite done yet.
Check at 8 minutes.  If it isn’t brown around the edges go for another 2 minutes.  Then another 2 until they are brown and cooked.  For me and my oven, it’s 13 minutes, but I check this at the start of every single batch.  You never know if the oven is off that day. 

STEP 13: Remove.  Allow to cool and then transfer to a cookie rack to cool completely.  (The gadget I have here is a fish spatula, it’s incredibly bendy and lightweight.  And great for delicate things like fish, cookies, and pancakes.  Pick one up with your scoop.  Mine’s by OXO.)

Now you will have adoration, praise and promises of chores done without a second admonition.  It’s priceless.  You never know what you’ll fuel.

Go forth and bake happily.  I’m here if you’ve got questions. 

Oh and one last thing, for my friends who are gluten-free, there’s a great flour that’s been developed by Chef Thomas Keller called CUP4CUP.  It’s amazing.  You can use it just like all-purpose flour.  You can buy it on Amazon or Williams Sonoma.  Cheers!

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