Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yes, those Chocolate Chip Cookies.

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies - 1st Batch

It was quite a weekend in my kitchen, and it is a bit worse for the wear I'm sorry to say - greasy in some spots and sticky in others - as my husband discovered when he grabbed the refrigerator door handle Monday morning. Still, there's nothing like a successful round of home cooking to buoy the spirits - especially when it results in something you can squirrel away - like pickled carrots or candied grapefruit peel - or cookies. If you can leave them alone, that is.

It started on Friday with chocolate chip cookies.  You know. Those cookies - the ones everyone is talking about, and with good reason. They are amazing. If you haven't tried them yet, you really should.
Guittard Chocolate Pastilles at Eclipse

I actually didn't have urgent plans to make them, until I saw the flat chocolate "feves," or pastilles, on a visit to Eclipse on Thursday. I remembered the recipe's suggestion to use them instead of chips, in order to create thin layers of chocolate running through the cookie.
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies - 1st Batch

I've made many batches of chocolate chip cookies over the years, but it's a little known fact that they've never been very good. The goal of a nice bit of caramelly chew always seemed to elude me - Toll House cookies would come out a little too greasy, but adding flour just kept them from spreading properly. Chilling the dough seemed to help a little bit, or slightly underbaking them - but I'd never been able to achieve that perfectly chewy, browned, slumping edge with middles that aren't too gooey. I've tried using chopped chocolate instead of chips, messing with the brown to white sugar ratio, airbake cookie sheets - silpats, even going back to regular old butter, sugar and flour - unlike the organic stuff I normally use. You name it, nothing has satisfied. Ultimately, I shrugged it off - maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that I couldn't make a batch of utterly irresistible chocolate chip cookies in my own kitchen - I'd just eat them even faster.
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies - 2nd batch

Enter the New York Times. When I'd read about the thin layers of chocolate, something clicked in my mind - I remembered biting into a cookie like that somewhere - maybe one of the Patina Group's delis in Los Angeles, or La Farine in Oakland (my all time favorite.) I was still a little skeptical that the curse could be broken - but I decided to give it a shot. (I also have a rice curse - can't cook the stuff to save my life.)
Butter and Sugar for Choc Chip Cookie Dough

I tried to follow the directions to a T, even measuring the flour by weight instead of volume - since it calls for exactly the same amount of cake and bread flour (the volume measurements are accurate - I checked.)

The box of chocolate pastilles I had was only one pound and the recipe calls for a quarter pound more - so I added some Ghirardelli 60% chips, but I really think they were totally unnecessary. If anything - and if you can believe this - the only flaw with these cookies is that there was too MUCH chocolate. The one thing I did not do, is sprinkle the cookies with salt. Quite honestly, I forgot - but I didn't miss it. Maybe I'll try it next time. I used large crystals of flake sea salt in the batter, and they did have a nice salty tang.
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies - 2nd Batch

I rested the dough overnight wrapped in plastic - and baked the first batch the following day. I scooped golfball sized chunks of the chilled dough onto a silpat, and baked them at 350 degrees for about 12-13 minutes. On the 1st day, I did about a dozen, and let the rest of the dough go until Sunday.
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies - 2nd batch

The gist of the article is that resting the dough allows the flour to absorb more of the butter and eggs, providing a more uniform consistency and more even caramelization. The first batch, rested not quite twenty four hours, was phenomenal - with all that chewy, tender texture - but without the usual greasiness. Sunday's - rested 36 hours, might have been a little more chewy and might have browned a bit more - but I couldn't really tell if it was just the oven (and level of doneness) or a difference in the dough.

I think resting this dough for a day or so is probably beneficial - but beyond that, who knows? And who cares? I'd rather have a great chocolate chip cookie today than a slightly better one tomorrow!

Recipe here.

8 comments:

  1. Those look so good! I see that my stack of Alice Q. Foodie recipes to try is growing daily. :)

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  2. I made them last Thursday with Ghirardelli 60% chips and like you I measured all ingredients by weight. Prior to this recipe I had been dedicated Alton Brown's Chewy recipe (here), which I portion out, freeze, and vacuum seal so that I can bake off warm chocolate chip cookies at any time. But I am now a full convert to this NY Times recipe. They were sublime.

    With the sole exception being the one you mentioned: chocolate overkill. I like more cookie, less chocolate. The next time I make these, I will reduce the chocolate by at least a third.

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  3. As a lucky recipient of said cookies, I can say they are probably the best I have had -- I would have had more but for a greedy husband and little sister. Oh well, next time I'll put in an order for a full batch. BTW, I can't make rice to save my life either!!!

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  4. They look lovely!! I just think that the long chilling requirement is much too time consuming. Chocolate chip cookies are supposed to be quick and simple -- a delish treat that you can whip up in minutes. If the PMS monster struck I'd obviously forgo this recipe (ha ha). Besides I really do feel like the recipe I use yields perfect cookies for me ;)

    While I don't have issues with Rice, can we talk about my bad bread baking luck? I think I need a flour and yeast exorcism!

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  5. I can't wait to try out this recipe, especially knowing that where I can locate the chocolate! I have no idea how long cookie dough would last in our fridge...certainly not 36 hours before it was devoured!

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  6. they seem lovely and i have never made the perfect ones yet... i should go!!

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  7. (I can't cook rice either.)
    OK, this adds up to THREE blog raves I've read about the cookies. Your pix, with the feves, have just about convinced me to Go There.
    Thanks (and Yolanda too) for the advice on reducing the amount of chocolate.

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