Monday, August 16, 2004

The Thick & Thin of It

I am proud of the fact that I'm a good cook, but I like to give credit where credit is due, and most often that credit belongs to a really fabulous recipe. Some people say following a recipe requires little more than reading comprehension, but I've come to appreciate that the recipes that turn out best require not only reading, but carefully following the directions -- when you don't have something required for the recipe, you need to either go out and get it or get really lucky to have success and when a recipe calls for 1/4 tsp of something, you should really measure it.

Another thing about recipes is finding the exact recipe you want. Most recently, I had discovered an amazing recipe for crispy chocolate chip cookies. The melt in your mouth type, that makes you chase down every crumb that falls as you bite into the cookie. Truly an outstanding cookie -- yet, there is a second type of chocolate chip cookies, while still rich, these are more moist and chewy, and overall more substantial than the crispy cookies. Depending on your preferences, give one of these recipes a try next time you want chocolate chip cookies.

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
4 dozen 2-inch cookies
You can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days or freeze it for a month. Bake cookies once the dough has returned to room temperature.

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl, and mix with a whisk.
3. Beat melted butter, sugars, and corn syrup on low for one minute until well blended. Add yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix for one minute until smooth.
4. Slowly add dry ingredients with beaters on low. Mix about two minutes, until just combined, then add chips and blend for about 5 seconds, until just combined.
5. Scoop 1 tablespoon sized balls onto baking sheet, about two inches in between each cookie.
6. Bake sheets individually on the center rack in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are flat and deep golden.
7. Allow cookies to cool on sheet for several minutes. Tranfer to wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature (they will crisp up during this time). Store cooled cookies in airtight container.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 18, 3 inch cookies
You can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days or freeze it for a month. Cookies can be baked frozen by adding 1-2 minutes to the baking time.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1–2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks (can also include any combination of white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, raisins, nuts or coconut)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda with a whisk.
3. Mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended (can be done by hand or with blender). Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix well.
4. Mix dry ingredients into wet until combined, then stir in chips.
5. Make balls out of 1/4 cup portions of dough. Pull ball of dough into two, and then push halves back together, torn surfaces both facing up. Place cookies on cookie sheets, leaving 2-3 inches between each.
6. Bake 15-18 minutes, until cookies are light golden and edges begin to harden. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through baking. Leave on cookie sheets until cool. Cookies are excellent served warm, but can also be stored in an airtight container or bag.


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