Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies-My Best Ever.... So Far

Ah Americas favorite cookie? I think so. When it comes to this cookie we all have a vision in mind. Some of us may like crunchy, some may like chewy, some a lot of chocolate and some not so much.

Some like my son love the cookie dough the best. Which brings me to a story. In this world of so much information and daily reports of a new thing that is going to kill us. It is a wonder we are not all nuts. So one day a few years ago I was making cookies. A group of kids wandered into the kitchen. My son was like “cookie dough yum”! One of the boys in the group looked at him eating the cookie dough with horror on his face like you are going to die and proceeded to tell us about salmonella and how you will get sick. Wow I think it is good to have information but that poor kid was missing out on the best part of the cookie making process. Licking the beaters. Scraping the bowl with your fingers until it shined.

It made me sad actually that he had to look at cookie dough as a poison. I have to say in all my years of eating cookie dough and everyone in my family eating cookie dough no one has ever gotten sick. My kids are 11 and 14 and have been eating it as long as they could eat it and they are thriving.

This is not poison

Yes, as with all things there is a risk. But we can't live our life being afraid of everything. Eggs either have salmonella or they don't. The odds are with us that in our lifetime we will not be infected with salmonella from an egg.

As parents we need to look out for our kids and give them information but being alarmists just stresses everyone out. For God’s sake let them eat the cookie dough.

I have tried different recipes over the years and the Toll House  one is a darn good one. I have also tried the Neiman Marcus Recipe. All good but not the best ever. While I hate to use the term "best ever", because my best may not be your best so I will just say the recipe I adapted is “my best chocolate chip cookie, so far” recipe.

What I love about baking versus cooking. Baking is more science. I studied food science in college and loved how there was a reason for everything that happened in baking. When you know the reasoning behind what is happening it makes it easier to understand. 
For instance one of the most important factors is the temperature of the butter and the creaming process. We read our recipe and it calls for soft butter or room temperature butter. Well what does this really mean? How soft
should it be. Nearly melted?

I pulled out some books and internet research and found that the best temperature for creaming butter is 65 degrees F. How to tell if your butter is at 65 degrees? I use an insta read thermometer. Another way is to push your finger in it and it should give slightly and leave a slight indentation.

Butter is basically an emulsion of water in fat, with some dairy solids that help hold them together. Keeping the butter at the right temperature keeps the emulsion intact. One day this summer I left my butter out on the counter and it was melted because the temp in the kitchen was about 80 degrees. The butter was runny meaning the emulsion broke. It would never be able to form a structure if I used it.

In addition to the butter another factor is the flour. I have always used all purpose or ap flour. However when I came across this recipe by Jacques Torres I noticed him using cake and bread flour. Dah that makes sense. The bread flour would give some more structure to the cookie due to the added protein.

Ok so I did some testing and this is my recipe.

Chocolate Chip/Chunk Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, 65 deg F
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsps vanilla
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup bread flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate bars, chopped 
fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. About three minutes in a kitchen aid on number 3 speed. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well. Add vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture.

Add some of chocolate to batter (see tip below) and scoop with a #40 scoop on cookie sheet, not insulated. Add extra chocolate to top. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown.

Food Styling Tips: When I make cookies for work or the home studio I always use a food service scoop. This will give you uniform cookies.

When placing pieces in my cookies be it nuts or chocolate I add some to the batter and leave some out to place on the cookie before it goes into the oven. This will insure you have some identifiable pieces on top. You can even add part way through baking if you like!

I find the fleur de sel makes a nice addition and reminded me of the carmels I make of the same name. The little splash of salt with the sweet is a nice touch. So enjoy these cookies and please comment on how they worked for you.

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