Saturday, September 24, 2011
A Chocolate Chip Cookie Obsession
So before I became more careful about what ingredients I use, my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe used pudding mix. Yes that's right, pudding mix, usually sugar-free Jello brand vanilla. The pudding mix somehow helps the cookies stay chewy and get just the right consistency like bakery cookies. But have you ever looked at what's in pudding mix? Preservatives, added salt, maltodextrin (a bulking agent often used to pad out artificial sweeteners like sucralose). Don't get me wrong, there's something to be said for the convenience of instant pudding, but if I'm going to invest the calories in a chocolate chip cookie, I want it to taste of butter and chocolate, not maltodextrin.
So I tried Alton Brown's notorious chocolate chip cookie recipe that uses bread flour. I had high hopes, the cookie dough was the best I'd ever tasted. I followed the directions exactly. I even went all OCD and whipped out my food scale to weigh the dough amounts for each cookie. I baked a small test batch and I was completely underwhelmed. The cookies didn't spread enough and they came out cakey! I am thoroughly in the chewy cookie camp. I like my cookies chewy in the center with a crisp golden brown edge. No brownie-like hockey puck cookies for me!
1. Aged cookies taste more complex, brown more evenly, and have a better crackly texture on top due to the dough being more dried out. I think a 24-36 hour resting time is good (by 36 hours the edges of my dough had started to absorb some fridge food odors-not good).
2. For chewy cookies, a lower oven temperature is better. My final product is baked at 325.
3. Dough shape matters. My husband and I preferred the dough rolled into balls. Because of the way the ball shape 'melts' you get a thicker chewy center, and a crisp edge. If you want a more uniform thickness with chewier edges use a flatter hockey-puck shape.
4. Cookie sheets matter. My insulated cookie sheets produced the chewiest, non-cakey cookies.
5. Dough size matters. We liked the 1.5 ounce cookie. It's a good size with a good crispy edge to chewy center ratio. If you like even chewier, you can safely go up to 2 ounces, maybe more.
1. Bread Flour vs. All-Purpose. I am not totally convinced the bread flour made a noticeable impact. Further experimentation needed! (My husband has already volunteered as the guinea pig.)
2. Butter: To Melt or Cream. I am also not convinced this makes a difference. Next time I want to try browning the melted butter to see if you get an even more complex cookie flavor.
These cookies stay chewy too. The whole 4 cookies that made it to day 2, were still moist and chewy!
Katelyn's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie
Yields approx. 2 dozen cookies
adapted from Alton Brown's recipe
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 ounces (approx. 2 1/4 cups) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces (approx. 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
8 ounces (approx. 1 1/4 cups) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ounce (approx. 2 tablespoons) whole milk (I used a mix of cream and water since I hardly ever buy milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces (approx. 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and pour it into a flour sifter.
3. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and sugars and stir till well combined. Mix in the egg, yolk, milk and vanilla and stir until well combined.
4. Sift in the flour a little at a time and continue to stir. Once the flour is all added, stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Refrigerate the dough for 24-36 hours. (If you want to make them sooner, refrigerate at least an hour.)
6. Line two insulated cookie sheets with parchment paper or cookie mats. Measure the dough into 1.5 ounce portions and roll them into balls. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes with 6 cookies to a sheet. Half way through the baking time swap the positions of the two cookie sheets so the cookies bake evenly. Cool on cookie sheets for at least 2 minutes before removing or inhaling. Make sure to let your cookie sheets cool down before doing the second batch (you could run cool water over the backs of the sheets to cool them faster.)