Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chocolate chip cookies

I spend ages food planning for dinner parties. If given the time I will spend days and days searching and daydreaming about the right recipes and the right combinations. But this week when I wanted to make a food gift, I just wasn't in the mood for that. You see, it's simple and easy to stick to crowd pleasers (duh) - there's no second guessing. I went to the obvious answers: meat and chocolate. Today I'm focusing on chocolate chip cookies.

I will always choose a chocolate chip cookie with milk over a digestive with tea. The British biscuit is yummy, but never as satisfying as a cookie to me. I'm not sorry in the slightest. The thing I love about them and struggle with as a baker is getting the correct texture. A perfect chocolate chip cookie is crisp on the outside and thick and chewy in the center. It's so good. Nothing is better. NOTHING.

I wouldn't say that these were anywhere near perfect, which sounds insulting, but that's just my pickiness showing. They're a definite improvement from all the others. For instance, I don't always get that pretty, chunky, wrinkled surface that you see here. The first batch (unpictured), which had been slightly warmed by my hands and room temperature, were even more wrinkly than the ones that baked from frozen. They even tasted a bit better to my surprise. Does anyone know why?

People receiving free cookies are less critical than those baking them. Everyone appreciates chocolate chip cookies. I analyze my food meticulously, picking apart imperfections for improvement, but when I get my head out of my ass I realize that most people don't think this deeply about cookies. They just eat them.

This batch benefitted from:
  • Being pre-rolled and frozen. SO SIMPLE. Why did I not do this sooner?
  • Being weighed. I don't mean the ingredients themselves, although I did and always use kitchen scales. More specifically, I weighed the dough balls to be about 25 grams. Sounds like a bit much, but I like them even. Every cookie finishes at the same time and it just looks nice.
  • NOT being overbaked. I've baked cookies until they look done but then the next day they're rock hard - a chocolate chip biscotti. The solution to this is taking them out of the oven when the sides are golden brown and the center is soft. The cookies will deflate to be lovely and wrinkly. If baking from chilled, bake for 9 minutes. From frozen, 10 minutes and 30 seconds.
Next time:
  • Chill dough for 3 days. I have tried this and, yes, it does taste SO much better. But who can wait that long?!?!?
  • Decrease the sugar content by a fourth. The sugar was more pronounced fresh out of the oven. I like em less sweet.
Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Smitten Kitchen

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