Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think to ever claim that you are a baker or cookie lover you must try New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies. I had always wanted to try them but just never had gotten around to it. Then a little over 2 weeks ago one of my best friends Bethany and her family came to visit. Her husband Justin is a great cook, and he was telling us about how these were the best chocolate chip cookies he and Bethany had ever had. And so they made them for us to sample. I loved them and knew that these would be made again and very soon.

If you haven't heard about New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies then you are in for a treat. The New York Times did an article titled "Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret" where they went on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookie. What they found was perfection.

It all started 80 years ago with Ruth Graves Wakefield who placed a Nestle Semi-sweet chocolate bar into her Butter Drop Do cookies. They were a hit and the chocolate chip cookie was created and began an American love affair that has never died and is still going strong.

NYT wanted to know even with all the variations on the classic chocolate chip cookie, has anybody topped Mrs. Wakefields chocolate chip cookies? They began by visiting some of the best cookie bakeries in NYC to find out their secrets. They consulted with several bakers and authors, one being Dorrie Greenspan whom I have her cookbook and want to be like someday. After their quest was complete, this is what they learned.....

1) Chill, chilling the dough for 36 hours allows a longer hydration time which is important because eggs, unlike, water, are gelatinous and slow-moving and the butter coats the flour preventing the absorption and letting the dough rest in the refrigerator allows for the egg to slowly penetrate that butter wall and absorb into the flour.

2) Size, it is all about the size of the cookie. Mr. Rubin of City Bakery says his cookies are "six-inch affairs" because in his opinion their larger size allows for three distinct textures. “First there’s the crunchy outside inch or so, then there’s the center, which is soft, but the real magic, is the one-and-a-half-inch ring between them where the two textures and all the flavors mix."

3)Chocolate, good chocolate, using only chocolate with at least 60 percent cacao content and lots of it can make a good cookie, a great cookie.

4) Salt, insight offered by Dorrie Greenspan who has written several baking cookbooks and has been a food editor of Gourmet magazine. She says “You can’t underestimate the importance of salt in sweet baked goods,” and says by just adding salt to dough and to the top of baked goods you can turn an average into a cookie great. Sea salt is an essential ingredient in any bakers pantry to give that sweetness, a contrast of flavors.

5) Warmth...temperature of a cookie. Even an average cookie is so much better when warm. A warm cookie makes you feel like it is homemade and there is no better comfort food then a chocolate chip cookie. That is why many bakeries have warming trays, so that people can get that just out of the oven taste.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
Sea salt

Start off by preheating oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer (my good ol' Kitchen Aid) fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Makes 16 5-inch cookies

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

These cookies are delicious. They are big, crunchy on the outside and soft in the center and the sea salt sends these over the top. This cookie you may have to wait for 36 hours for but the wait is well worth it.


Adapted from Jacques Torres, recipe from the NY Times

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chunky Chocolate Gobs

A few weeks ago I did a post for all those who love a simple cookie that is not too sweet but has a rich buttery flavor....Tea Cakes. However this cookie, is the antithesis of a tea cake. This cookie is dedicated to all you chocolate lovers out there who love a deep, dense, chocolaty, chunky cookie that is so chocolaty that it will soothe any worry or care and blow your chocolate loving mind.

I found this recipe while looking at Southern Living's "60 Best Loved Cookies". The #1 cookie was the Chunky Chocolate Gobs. I am a sucker for anything that claims to be the best. I think of the movie Elf, when Buddy sees the sign in NYC that says "Worlds Best Coffee" and he bursts into the retaurant and says "congratulations". I feel like Buddy, except I atleast have to try it to see for myself. My gut told me anything that calls for chocolate cream filled cookies, Mounds candy bars and lots of chocolate had to taste pretty darn great.

After making them, I was blown away by their intense chocolate flavor. I loved the slight crunch the chocolate cream filled cookies added and the coconut brought in a nice texture and taste also. And finally the chocolate chips provided a burst of chocolate to each bite. These cookies are a chocolate lovers dream come true.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups or 16 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped (I used Oreos)
3 (1.75-oz.) Mounds bars, chilled and chopped
1 to 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper (although I was out of parchment paper and just used my non-stick cookie sheet and they came out just fine) and set aside.

Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer) beat the butter and shortening at medium speed in the stand mixer bowl until creamy; gradually add in the sugar and brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla, beating until well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, unsweetened cocoa and salt, mix well. Then gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, beating until blended.

Next cut up the cookies coarsely, and cut up the chilled Mound bars into little squares. Then with a spoon add add in the cookies, candy bars and chocolate morsels. Once all ingredients have been incorporated completely, chill dough for 30 minutes.

Once dough is chilled drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2" apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. These cookies are large and I only put six per cookie sheet. Depending on how fast your oven cooks, bake your cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until barely set. Once baked, take the cookies out and let them cool for 10 minutes away from the heat of the oven. Lastly transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool until they are just barely warm.

These cookies are best slightly warm with a tall glass of milk. But would also be divine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fudge sauce and a dabble of whip cream. So get ready for an intense chocolate experience that will have you begging for more.

Enjoy every chocolaty bite!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Southern Tea Cakes

Every once in a while it is nice to have a little bit of simplicity, a less is more mentality.....simple and classy. And these Tea Cakes are just that, simple but rich in flavor. And if you are one who does not like an intensely sweet cookie then this cookie is for you.

Last night I told Thad I would make him some cookies and some how Tea Cakes came up. He told me he loved them growing up and loved to eat the dough. His mom, years ago compiled a dessert cookbook of the family's favorite recipes. After talking with Thad, I got that cookbook out and found the Tea Cake recipe.

I had heard of tea cakes but never really knew what they were or how they were suppose to look. So I called my mother-in-law and she gave me some more helpful tips on how to make them. She said "tea cakes are as southern as you can get". I liked that she said that and was eager to give this recipe, that Thad had grown up loving, a try.

After making this recipe the finish product was perfect. They were a soft cookie, with a simple and buttery flavor. I would liken them to a short bread or a more buttery sugar cookie. They were a delightful treat and Thad was eating them like they were going out of style. He even licked the mixer attachment, just like when he was a kid.

Tea Cakes
1 cup butter or margarine, Softened (2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar

Start off by preheating the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet (used Crisco)and set aside.

In stand mixer (or a hand held mixer), mix the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Once combined add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix well.

You can either spoon the dough right out on the cookie sheet or I placed the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to let the dough set and harden, so I could roll the dough into balls. Lastly place the cookies in the oven until the edges begin to brown. The cooking time depends on how fast your oven cooks, my cookies took about 10 minutes to bake.

Once done baking, take the cookies out and let them sit for a minute before transferring to a cooling rack. Finally, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool.

So for all you cookie lovers (like myself) who get tired of the overly sweet treats, this recipe has your name on it. These are a great cookie because of their simplicity and buttery taste but beware.....you will eat about 5 before you even know it.

Bon Appetit!