Sunday, March 14, 2010

The "Fruits" of My Time Off

During this long winter, I couldn't help but want to bake. My dad bought me a subscription to Cooks Illustrated magazine and this recipe intrigued me - Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. It was hard to imagine bringing something new to the table here but I think this recipe lives up to its name. If you have ever baked chocolate chip cookies and been disappointed in your results, this one is for you (all of us). They have gone to great lengths to scientifically create a truly chewy cookie with a crackly exterior. It is a little bit more trouble, but judging by how long they lasted at my house (not long), it was worth it. Cooks Illustrated leaves out no details whatsoever on their recipes as you will see below.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 16 cookies

1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar (I used light - it was fine)
1 t. table salt
2 t. vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips (I used Hersheys but they tasted tested Ghiradelli as best -I went with the economy choice)
3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18" x 12") with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside
2. Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and , using a heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons better into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting an whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions (I didn't count), each about 3 tablespoons ( or use a #24 scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used but will require 3 batches.)
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 min, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

I didn't make my cookies quite that big. Kylie made them yesterday and didn't bother to brown the butter. They tasted fine. It seems like a lot of trouble but you don't have to get the mixer out or soften the butter. I do use the parchment paper. It really does make a difference. Reynolds brand at WalMart is cheaper than at a gourmet shop or Pampered Chef.

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