Saveur’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Most people won’t say no to chocolate chip cookies, whether overcooked or store-bought. Chocolate chip cookies are an American classic and definitely a recipe I have made and eaten thousands of times. Maybe the internet is to blame or maybe it’s just my curiosity for baking, but despite the number of times I’ve made the chewy, gooey hand-held dessert, I still sometimes feel the need to try a new recipe. Social media tends to make us feel pressured to constantly achieve bigger (or smaller) and better whether through our perfectly toned and tanned bodies, our flawlessly frosted cakes, or our carefully crafted home decor. Yes, your chocolate chip cookie recipe may already be amazing, but the lure of the internet will lead you to believe that this one is the best. Continue reading

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Post 121 – Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Remember that ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream at Blue Dragon?

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Well it was heavenly. Divine. I was tempted to come home and make one myself. Nonetheless I don’t have a personal cookie sized cast iron pan (and I know I would eat way too much of a 10″ pan myself!) so I made regular chocolate chip cookies instead. Well, not entirely regular I’ll admit, but nothing crazy. As part of the continuation of my Cookbook Challenge I decided to try a new technique in making chocolate chip cookies. My godmother gifted me Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Dessert cookbook long ago and I have made some recipes out of there – such as these beautiful checkerboard cookies – though I still hadn’t ticked it off my list for my Cookbook Challenge. Continue reading

Post 57 – Grandma Knows Best: Choco-Chip Cookie Bars

I’ve been trying to avoid sugar lately and for good reason. I find it to be addictive and I also think that it contributes to my acid reflux. I have been doing lots of reading lately that has led me to this belief and while I love the taste, I know it is not worth feeling bad later (well I know this in theory, but do I always listen to myself? No.)

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Nonetheless I love to bake and try new recipes so try as I might, I can’t completely avoid sugar. The trick is to make something, try a small amount, and then give away the rest. That way I don’t have a whole pan of cookies or cake to tempt me. It’s true.

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I had picked out this recipe several weeks back after scanning my great-great-grandma’s recipe box and had been meaning to make it. I mean caramel meringue? It sounds intriguing, right?

So I finally gave in to my desires and made it, with intentions of giving it to Sam to take to work. The recipe contains nuts and since my workplace is nut-free I couldn’t take it there. I also didn’t need the bars tempting me at work.

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They were warm, chocolate-y and crunchy coming right out of the oven and so I scooped a small helping into a bowl and ate it with a spoon.

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I brought Sam a bite and he said, “It’s good, but it tastes like it has too many ingredients.”

Psha! Too many ingredients! Leave it to Sam to like his baked goods simple and classic. I blame his dad (who may very well be reading this…) Sam seemed hesitant to take them to work because they seemed messy and didn’t meet his taste expectations, but I was determined for him to take them, lest I eat the whole pan.

So the next morning, after they had cooled, I cut them into bars (eating the crumbs that fell off as I did) and packed them into containers for him. Now he couldn’t refuse.

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I got a text message later that day: “Lots of excitement here about cookies :)”

That’s right! Way to doubt, Sam. Grandmas always know best.

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Choco-Chip Bites

Recipe copied from my great-great-grandma’s recipe box

My comments are in italics

¾ cup soft butter

½ cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup granulated sugar

3 eggs, separated*

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powderIMG_3789

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

6-oz pkg. chocolate pieces (1 cup chocolate chips)

1 cup flaked or grated coconut (I used unsweetened)

¾ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

Heat oven to 350 degrees (moderate as listed in my recipe). Grease an oblong pan – 13 x 9 ½. Blend butter, ½ cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat 2 min, medium speed on mixer or 300 strokes by hand (!), scraping bowl constantly. Sift in dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture until thoroughly mixed. Spread or pat dough in pan (I lined my pan with parchment paper for easy removal). Sprinkle with chocolate pieces, coconut, and nuts. Beat egg whites until frothy; add 1 cup brown sugar and beat until stiff, but not dry. (I found I had to beat it a lot longer than expected so don’t give up hope! See pictures below. I also added ½ tsp. vanilla for flavor) Spread on top of chocolate-coconut-nut mixture. Bake 35-40 min (I found it only took 30 minutes). Cool and cut into bars.

*Eggs separate best when cold, but incorporate into the cookies best at room temperature. Separate the eggs when you remove them from the fridge and leave out to “warm up” with the butter.

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The meringue begins soft and foamy

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Then turns brown and satiny from the brown sugar

The final meringue

The final meringue

Enjoy!

Post 39 – The Great Cookie Experiment

Chocolate chip cookies.

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The classic version delivers gooey, melty yumness.

So why mess with a good thing? I’ll tell you why.

I am getting married in less than a year (less than a year!) and my future mother-in-law cannot tolerate gluten. To be honest, I don’t see her very often and therefore don’t need a grand repertoire of gluten-free foods to cook (plus she has plenty of her own recipes that work just fine for her), but it’s good to have at least done a few test runs myself. Plus, I love a good recipe experiment!

I remember the first time I met Sam’s parents. Six years ago (wow!), right before Sam and I both left to study abroad on different continents (our first test at long distance), I flew out to Seattle to meet his parents and see the wonderful place where Sam grew up. I arrived late one night and his parents were already asleep, but the two of us, still awake and hungry, got into the fridge for a midnight snack: Jenny’s famous blueberry muffins. My family had never refrigerated muffins growing up, but these muffins were wonderful cold – their tops shiny and golden, their insides dense and soft without being too sweet and studded with dark purple berries. Sam had always raved about his mom’s delicious muffins and cookies, recipes she had perfected through the years, though she didn’t eat the flour-filled versions herself.

The next morning when I woke up, I met his parents and Jenny made us French toast before our day of Seattle-venturing. Sam and I offered to make his parents a gluten-free dinner that night, as a gesture of appreciation for my stay at their home. Though I don’t remember what we made for the main dish, I do remember the flourless chocolate torte that I made with Jenny in mind. Due to my confusion between bittersweet and semisweet chocolate the torte ended up a much darker chocolate than intended, but Jenny still loved it and appreciated the thought.

Williams-Sonoma recipe

Williams-Sonoma recipe

Despite Jenny’s gluten intolerance, I haven’t experimented with many gluten free recipes. I’m happy to use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas or rice instead of pasta for a side dish, but I’ve rarely messed around with flour substitutes in baked goods. It always seemed like you had to have too many extra ingredients.

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Nonetheless inspired by the delicious panisse cubes on Sam’s salad this past weekend I bought a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour and decided to try my hand at panisse (well, eventually I will try it). Since I was in the mood to bake and I have a whole bag of the stuff I figured I might as well experiment with other recipes, so I looked up a recipe for gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Since my gluten free baking experience is limited, I didn’t trust myself to come up with my own recipe. I looked around and found a few different cookie recipes, but when I found one that sounded like the classic recipe with pretty much a one to one flour substitution I went for it.

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You would think a substitution that direct would cause concern or hesitation on my part. Surely garbanzo bean flour would not interact with the other ingredients in the same way as wheat flour, but the recipe didn’t have any weird ingredients (e.g. xanthan gum) and the pictures looked normal so I figured, hey, worst case scenario – I would toss the whole batch.

Just in case I made a half batch of the gluten free cookies and a half batch of regular (flour) chocolate chip cookies to compare (or serve as a chaser to the disgusting taste). Of course I used Jenny’s recipe for the regular cookies since Sam is such a fan.

Gluten free dough - notice the color.

Gluten free dough – notice the color.

Though I don’t recommend the taste of the cookie dough itself, the cookies turned out great! (Sam even approves though he calls them “fake” cookies.) They are chewier and crispier than the traditional ones and they spread out quite a bit more, (refrigerate the dough longer next time? Use half butter, half shortening?) but they surprisingly did not taste like chickpeas (despite the dough itself tasting pretty bean-y). Hip hip hooray – the great cookie experiment was a success! Next time I’ll have to tweak the recipe just a little bit. Follow this recipe to make your own gluten free cookies.

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Can you tell which one is which? (Yeah, yeah you probably can. Well aren’t you smart.)