Date Cooked: September 14th, 2008 Page: 777 Rating: A-
Baking is not something I do much of but I was really craving some cookies and I figured why not try some from the ‘Best’ book. I love warm chocolate chip cookies and the chewier the better so these were pretty much the top of the list. Making these was a learning experience as always and while fraught with challenges I would definitely say I am on the road to confidence when baking. So let’s begin shall we.
I had almost all of the ingredients for this in the house except for one particular minor ingredient for chocolate chip cookies, the chocolate chips. Without hesitation I zip over to the closest grocery store and grab a few bags (I figure you can never stock too much sweet baking supplies) of chocolate chips. With the goods in hand I make my way home… I’m sure you are wondering why I am bothering to tell you about my uneventful trip to the store? No reason. Just typing to pad this into a longer than needed post. At home with all the ingredients gathered I set to work.
I carefully measured out all the ingredients being sure to double check the quantities in the book. First the flour and other dry ingredients. Then I begin measuring out the ungodly amount of sugar. I love cookies but I never really realized how much sugar they actually contain. My past cookies would either come in a bag already baked or from a doughy little man called Pillsbury. Anyway as I was measuring out the sugar I realized I was not using a 1 cup dry measuring cup but a ½ cup. I just grabbed the largest assuming they were all there. These cookies may not have been sweet enough if I hadn’t caught that mistake.
I pulled out the KitchenAid and set about incorporating all the ingredients together. After adding the chocolate chips I gave the dough a few more folds manually and then got the baking sheet prepared, sheet as in the singular, I have one baking sheet so these cookies were cooking in batches. I did recently buy a Silpat though and I must say it is a very nice addition to the kitchen. At this point my son began to thoroughly clean the cookie dough from the mixer.
While potential problem number one was averted (incorrect measuring utensil), problem number 2 was lurking in the bowl. As I tried to form balls from the dough the stuff just wouldn’t stop clinging to my hands, it was impossible to work with! I reviewed the recipe but it says nothing about handling the dough. Just that I need to roll it into a ball, rip the ball in half and rejoin to give it a nice bumpy top. Hard to explain but the folks at Cook’s Illustrated do a decent job of explaining it on page 776. I added a bit more flour hoping that will help but that barely does anything. So I give up and just plop down little piles of the dough on the Silpat. The first batch goes into the oven. I figure I’ll chill the dough in the fridge while the first batch cooks.
I suppose if I had paid attention to the recipe better I would have realized the flaw in my baking process. The cookies need to cool on the baking sheet and as I was about to find out I couldn’t skip this step. Once the first batch came out I was a little puzzled. The recipe was called thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies. But these had spread out into thin and almost dinner plate sized cookies. I had six cookies taking up the entire baking sheet. I let them cool and then removed them to a wire cooling rack. Of the six cookies only four made it to the rack. My wife, oldest son and I had to do a little QA work on the cookies. They may not have been thick and chewy but they certainly were delicious and chewy.
I took the dough out of the fridge and after a short chill it was perfect for handling. I was able to roll it out into balls and perform the required ‘Best’ technique. Back in the fridge the remainder of the dough went and the baking sheet went back into the oven. 15 minutes later I had another batch of deflated cookies just as large as the last ones. I finished up the rest of the dough and set about figuring what I may have done wrong.
I’m no expert baker (pretty obvious isn’t it) but I did know that something was wrong with the ratio of fat and gluten (butter, eggs and flour). At first I figured I must have bad flour, it has been around for awhile and maybe it has absorbed too much moisture in its long storage. But then it hit me, and shame welled up inside me and I shook my head in embarrassment. I debated whether or not I should confess to what I did wrong but in the interest of full disclosure I thought I should fess up. Remember my glorious save when I realized I was measuring the sugar with the wrong measuring cup? Yeah… probably should have realized I used the same cup for the flour. Now in my defense my son was in the kitchen trying to steal chocolate chips and I was a little distracted. Aren’t I a great father, blaming my failures on my children?
Regardless of the amount of flour used though the cookies were absolutely delicious! Once cooled, they remained nice and chewy and are definitely better than anything bought at a store or premixed. But I guess anything that is predominantly butter and sugar would be good.
Rating: These deserve an A-. They were the right consistency even if they were not the requisite dimensions. Thin and chewy is a working combination for me so I can’t even classify this as a failure. Which is good for me because I was tired of failing, although I’m sure my failures are probably more entertaining?
The Next Day
They maintained the same wonderful, chewy consistency. Considering this was the day after my van got crushed by a tree these helped me through. Because nothing helps an imminent insurance headache like chewy chocolate chip cookies!
I am a husband to a loving wife that shares my same interest for food and cooking. I am a father to two sons (and a newborn son) that have an aversion to food. I'm also a pretty bad cook... which could be their problem... but I'm working on it.
I'm attempting to cook-through 'The New Best Recipe' for two reasons. I want to educate myself on the culinary arts a little and I want to provide better and hopefully more interesting meal options for my family... oh yeah plus I find food photography real exciting so it gives me a chance to justify why I take pictures of food!