after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Chocolate Chip Cookies (with pix)

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t says: Chocolate chip cookies hold a special place in nearly everyone’s heart (I guess maybe not if you’re allergic). I’ve always been on the lookout for great recipes, but never found one that 1) was easy and 2) gave me a cookie that I liked more than break-and-bake cookies (the new caramel-stuffed Nestle ones are a force to be reckoned with).

Enter Ad Hoc at Home. When I saw that there was a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in a book by Thomas Keller, I figured that it must be some sort of ridiculous 70-step monster. You see, TK has a knack for recipes that aren’t friendly for the home cook. For instance, his chicken soup recipe requires individually cooking each of the components (e.g. carrots, celery, chicken, dumplings) before adding them to a separately prepared broth in the very last step. I was happy to find that his chocolate chip cookie recipe was quite reasonable in terms of methods. And, when a friend (who shall remain unnamed to protect his/her identity so his/her mother won’t be offended by the following quote) claimed “they might be the best cookies he/she has ever had”, I just had to post the recipe for him/her, which was halved and modified for the ingredients we had on hand (TK normally calls for dark brown sugar and mix of milk and dark chocolates – as well as sifting the chocolate before adding it in so you can eliminate really tiny pieces of chocolate so your cookies “look clean” … yea … if he just started with a bag of chips like us, he wouldn’t have that problem).

Ingredients:

__ 1 cup + 3 Tbs + 0.5 tsp all-purpose flour (don’t complain – I could have written 56.5 tsp)
__ 0.5 tsp baking soda, minus a smidgen
__ 0.5 tsp kosher salt
__ 0.25 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter (I don’t know why cold, but what TK wants, TK gets)
__ 0.5 c packed light brown sugar
__ 0.375 c granulated sugar
__ 1 extra large egg (although we have used jumbo from time to time – I think the cookies are taller – but I haven’t measured it)
__ 50% of an 11.5-0z bag of Ghirardelli 60% cacao “bittersweet” chocolate chips
__ x tsp baking powder (I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m contemplating adding just a smidge to get slightly cakier cookies)

Methods:

1) Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

2) Cut butter into small pieces.  In a stand-mixer (with paddle), beat half of the butter at medium-low speed until smooth. Add the remaining butter, the granulated sugar, and the brown sugar, beating for a few minutes until the mixture gets fluffy and dry-looking. Slowly add the egg while mixing, until incorporated evenly.

2) Turn the mixer to slowest setting. Add the dry ingredients from step 1.  Mix until even, but mix as little as humanly possible.

Pre-Chipped Dough

3)  Remove bowl from stand and add the chocolate chips, folding them in until evenly distributed.

Post-chipped dough

4) Shape dough into 2 Tbs sized balls. Should make ~15 cookies. Put into freezer to chill for at least 30 mins.

Ok … so I’m missing one – only 29.

5) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place cookies onto sheet with ample space between (2 inches or more).  We have a thick cookie sheet and thin one (which I bought for $1 at Ikea), and we have a silpat and patchment paper.  I like the parchment paper and the thin sheet better.

Run! We’re being attacked by cookie dough balls!

6) Bake for 6 minutes. Rotate pans. Bake until the tops of the cookies lose their sheen (~12 mins, total).  The edges touching the pan will take on a brown color – that’s ok – but if they’re burning … you’ve gone too far.  Carefully remove the tray from the oven – if you bump it, the cookies will deflate.  Boo!

Note how shiny the dough on the left 2 cookies look … they’re not done!

7) Slide parchment paper with cookies onto cooling rack – without bumping them, of course.  Although the dough no longer looks “wet” like it did when only 6 minutes had past, you might note that the cookie is still very flimsy – as if it was undercooked.  Don’t fret – let it cool.  In a few minutes, the poofy, flimsy dough will have solidified into a deliciously cakey cookie.  I feel that five minutes later is a perfectly acceptable time to wait before eating them – but I like ’em soft.

A mouth’s eye view … and these are only HALF the height of the cookies made straight from the freezer.

Getting fancy with some additives: dried cherries, candied ginger.

Still delicious.

Extra tips:

1)  TK suggests that if you want softer cookies, mist lightly with water before baking.  I don’t even bother with this step anymore, as they are plenty soft.

2)  You can keep the dough balls in the freezer or refrigerator – I’d put them in a sealable container so they don’t lose too much moisture.  If you choose the fridge, then I probably wouldn’t go for any more than a few days, as it does have raw egg in it.  But, what I recently found is that, despite what TK says (and what I used to espouse), I see nothing wrong with taking these dough balls straight from the freezer to the oven – I’ve done the head-to-head test between frozen and defrosted dough balls (i.e. ones that were in the fridge overnight) and they come out no different at all!  One may also try to NOT refrigerate the dough at all and go straight to baking after you assemble the ingredients, but these cookies definitely turn out flatter – so I don’t like that option …

2.5)  I noticed that the longer you let the cookies sit in the freezer (e.g. two weeks vs. 1 day), the taller they stay after baking – I’m not sure why this is the case.  I’ve achieved approximately 67% taller cookies by waiting one week.

3)  Re: salt.  You can sprinkle some kosher salt on top of the dough balls to give it that nice salt-chocolate taste.  I also tried rolling the dough balls in salt – yea – bad idea – it didn’t look like a lot of salt, but it was …  Once, I ran out of unsalted butter, so I used salted butter and cut the kosher salt in half – worked fine!

5)  Re: chocolate.  I tried to use this recipe with a mix of milk and dark chocolates (from Naked Chocolate) – it just isn’t the same.  I think because I used light brown sugar, I depend on the dark Ghirardelli chips bring more flavor to the party.  I once substituted the dark Ghirardelli chips with Nestle dark chocolate – also note the same (the Nestle chocolate was kinda wussy).  Also – if you do remove the dark chocolate (or use not-as-dark dark chocolate, like Nestle), cut back on the salt some – I found the cookies to be on the verge of “salty” when I used milk chocolate.

6)  I did try the recipe including dark brown sugar (3:1 dark:light), but found that the cookie, itself, just didn’t taste “right” anymore – it didn’t bring the right contrast to the dark chocolate chips.  Maybe if I used milk choocolate it would have been better?  I don’t know.  But because I will always use dark chocolate chips, I’m now never going to use dark brown sugar … although I have to suffer through the remaining dark brown sugar so I have an excuse to buy some light brown sugar …

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

20 February 2010 at 2:52pm

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