Chocolate Chip Cookies-1

Wednesday August 17, 2016

photo courtesy martha stewart omnimedia

Chocoholics live in a world that is defined by passionate words-everything from love and crave to addiction and indulgence.  Some prefer milk chocolate, others dark.  Europeans have a developed palate for white chocolate that Americans haven’t got yet.  Everyone loves chocolate baked into cookies.  It is culinary luxury in a bite and even the most timid baker longs to bake the perfect batch.

A New World food brought back to Spain by Columbus, it wasn’t until Cortez observed the Aztec Indians of Mexico drinking chocolate that Europeans got the idea of how to use it.  Chocolate translates to “bitter water” and with sugar added for palatability, the luxurious favorite drink of continental royalty was invented.

Henri Nestlé was a Swiss chemist who developed the method of condensing milk.  Sharing the invention with his neighbor, a semi-sweet chocolate manufacturer, milk chocolate was born.  Nestlé is still today the most recognizable name in store-bought chocolate, especially chips, and stands up in flavor to the gourmet brands.

Once upon a time, a chocolate chip cookies meant Toll House made with the recipe printed on the back of a bag of Nestlé’s semi-sweet morsels.  Today there is a variety of chocolate chips available and recipes abound for different types of cookies featuring them. But most are a variation on the original Toll House. I found an article in the Autumn 1984 issue of the then fledgling Chocolatier magazine on old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies based on the proportions of the original Toll House recipe.  The seven recipes are so good that I never looked at another recipe for chocolate chip cookies again. I share two of them here with you. In the future, I will post more.

Chocolate chips are specially made to retain their shape during baking, which is why they are not called for use in other recipes calling for chocolate.  They are squeezed through a nozzle and immediately set up into the pert, pointed morsel shape that is like a miniature Hershey’s kiss.  They are available in seven varieties: semi-sweet, bittersweet (also called double chocolate), white, milk chocolate, mint, peanut butter, and butterscotch, and in sizes ranging from 1/2-inch discs (also called cookie chips, made by Guittard) down to 1/8-inch diameter mini-morsels (which disappear into a cookie, but are good added to bread).  If you are eating them right out of the bag, you want a velvety smooth texture and overall assertive chocolate flavor.

Easily found in most supermarkets are Nestlé, Ghirardelli, and Guittard chocolate chips, all excellent brands.  I stock up on bags of white, semi-sweet, and milk chips, especially if they are on sale.  The lesser known Tropical Source chips, made with tofu powder for creaminess and no refined sugar, is available at health food stores and Whole Foods.  Before you say poo-poo to this natural foods store brand, Tropical Source ranked first in a blind chocolate chip tasting by Cook’s magazine. I love them.

I also like small bars of Valrhona chocolate from France, Sharffen Berger from US (owned now by Hershey), Swiss Lindt Excellence, and Tobler for chopping by hand into uneven chunks. If you use them in place of the chips, they will make a more rustic looking cookie. With dark chocolate now in the category of superfoods, whats stopping you from whipping up a batch right now?

Tips for a Beautiful Chocolate Chip Cookie

•Use butter that is soft, but still a cool room temperature, rather than runny.

•Chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator after mixing, up to 3 days, so it is firm when you drop the batter on the baking sheet.  Do not freeze.

•Use cool baking sheets, never hot ones just out of the oven or the cookie batter will separate and puddle.

•Vegetable shortening (Spectrum solid vegetable shortening-the organic version of Crisco) or a vegetable cooking spray, like Pam, are the best fats for greasing the baking sheets. I use parchment or a Silpat, and skip this step.

•2 tablespoons of dough will make a 3-inch cookie and 3 tablespoons of dough will make a 4-inch cookie.

•To judge when a cookie is perfectly done, press gently on the center.  It is done if it springs back.  The edges will not be brown.  Do not over bake or they will be dry (you want moist and chewy); cookies set up as they cool.

Cocoa-White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces coarsely chopped white chocolate bars, or 2 cups white chocolate chips

Instructions

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon or in a Kitchen Aid mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.  One at a time, with the mixer running, add the vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and finally the egg.  Slowly add the flour and then the white chocolate.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until firm, 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325º.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.  Using 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter for each cookie, shape into a rough ball.  Place on the baking sheet, with at least 4 inches of space in between the balls and away from the corners of the pan.

Bake in the center of the oven, one pan at a time, 12 to 14 minutes.  Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to a layer of paper towels on a metal cooling rack.  After a few minutes, slide from the paper towel onto the rack to cool completely.  Makes about 20 cookies.


Orange-Pecan-Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flavored liqueur, like Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
  • 12 ounces coarsely chopped milk chocolate bars, or 2 cups milk chocolate chips

Instructions

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon or in a Kitchen Aid mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.  One at a time, with the mixer running, add the orange zest, vanilla, liqueur, salt, baking soda, and finally the egg.  Slowly add the flour and then the pecans and milk chocolate.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until firm, 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.  Using 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter for each cookie, shape into a rough ball.  Place on the baking sheet, with at least 4 inches of space in between the balls and away from the corners of the pan.

Bake in the center of the oven, one pan at a time, 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to a layer of paper towels on a metal cooling rack.  After a few minutes, slide from the paper towel onto the rack to cool completely.  Makes about 20 cookies.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.


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