Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Persistence Pays

It may have been cool outside but the atmosphere was heating up in the school library.
The silent auction was going on and my daughter was furious. Some one kept outbidding her. She was bent on having the Guittard chocolate sampler kit! So she parked herself next to the bidding sheet making sure that hers remained the highest bid.
She literally did not move from there!
Her persistence paid off and we came home with this:

The sampler contained Super Cookie Chips, so chocolate chip cookies were in order. These cookie chips are similar to the usual chocolate chips; flatter but bigger in diameter.

Unlike the kids, I don't really like cookies that much and neither do I like baking them. The oven I use is not that wide, I can't fit in two baking sheets side-by-side. It is quite a bother to baking cookies in batches. Which is why I prefer bar cookies.

Our preference is for chewy, slightly under baked cookies. Nuts are optional; sometimes they just get in the way of the chocolate chunks.
Mixing in cocoa powder is also something I avoid because then you don't have the contrast of colours where the chocolate chunks stand out. I know this is a visual thing but then you do eat with your eyes first.

This New York Times article suggests chilling the dough before baking.
Patience was in short supply so I baked some cookies right away and stashed the rest of the dough in the fridge. The rested cookie dough did result in a better tasting cookie. A sprinkle of salt did wonders for the flavour.

I used to be very skeptical of the salt-chocolate combination. A bite of the Scharffen Berger Milk Almond bar which contains sea salted almonds changed everything. This chocolate bar is to die-for.

The cookie recipe calls for nut butter. The first time I made these cookies, I naturally opted for hazelnut butter. But one couldn't detect any hazelnut flavour at all. The next time I made the cookies, I used cashew butter. Again, one couldn't tell there was any cashew in the cookies. Maybe not flavour but the nut butter does seem to contribute immensely to the texture.
May be it is the copious amount of chocolate that hides the nut flavour.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(This recipe came from one of those recipe-exchange-chain emails. It sat the must-try folder for years before I actually gave it a shot.)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt + more for sprinkling on top
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into chunks
¼ cup nut butter (peanut, hazelnut, or cashew)

Don't preheat the oven just yet. The dough needs to chill in the fridge for a bit.

Sift together and keep aside the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Cream the unsalted butter and both the sugars for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the nut butter and continue beating for another ½ minute.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture and mix together till it all comes together. Do not overmix.
Mix in the chocolate.

Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes; makes it easy to handle.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F.
Prepare the baking sheets. Either spray with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
Make the cookies as large or small as you want.
Just make sure you don't place them too close to each other on the baking sheet.
If you like, sprinkle a bit of salt on the cookies.
Bake them for about 9-12 minutes, just until slightly brown.
The baking time will depend on your oven and the size of the cookies.

The yield depends on the size of the cookie. We got about two dozen generously proportioned cookies!
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