Thursday, February 26, 2009

chocolate chip cookies

After many adventures into cookies needing fancy things like cocoa nibs and cardamom, pastry cutters and microplane graters, and tofu and toasted oats, I felt a calling to a) procrastinate, and b) make an unfussy cookie.

Unfussy cookies I did make, and let me tell you how much sweeter procrastination is with warm chocolate chip cookies in hand. The next time you need to do work, I suggest you have a cookie instead.

Ironically, instead I'm going to post about this fussy chocolate chip cookie recipe from the New York Times. If you recall the bacon cookies from last summer, these are actually those cookies. They're notable because I actually followed the recipe EXACTLY as printed. As a scientist you'd think I'd see the value in baking a control, but as a baker I'm too smart for my own good and always have to meddle. Was it worth it?

There are four notable things about this recipe:

1. It uses odd amounts of ingredients. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour? This is because the recipe converts ingredients by weight into volume. Notice that it calls for 8.5 oz of bread and cake flour, but by volume are different by almost 1/3 cup. Theoretically this would give you a more consistent cookie every time you make it.

2. It uses really good quality chocolate. See those huge melty disks of chocolatey-ness in the photo? Hershey's chocolate chips can't hold a candle.

3. You're supposed to refrigerate the dough for 24-36 hours to improve the crumb, shape, and color of the final cookie. I used to never chill dough, but this recipe convinced me that at least a little waiting is worth it. However, 24 hours seems a bit much to ask when warm cookies are at stake - I'd say bake a few off immediately to tide you over, then chill the rest for at least an hour or two.

4. The cookies are finished with a sprinkle of coarse salt, playing up on the ever popular sweet and savory.

Conclusion? Quality ingredients and chilling dough pays off, but don't let fussy recipes get in your way of enjoying fresh baked cookies. The recipe on the bag of Toll House chocolate chips is pretty good, too...

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