As promised... the cookies!

By Mélanie, on Monday, September 15, 2008

I know. I’m bad. I show you this picture of cookies, and then leave you without anything for almost a month.
So here we go!
But first I need to tell you that there’s something between me and cookies. At least that’s what my entourage thinks... As if I was the reference or something like that. I even have a friend whose colleagues ask if they’re going to have some of my cookies soon. Weird, isn’t it?
Because to be honest, I don’t know why. I don't deserve it. I don't do anything special, they're not extraordinary. I haven’t found the recipe yet. And because I find it difficult to resist to cookie dough (yes, I'll admit it. I first started cooking because I prefered the batter to the baked cake...), my hips thank me for not making them so often. Ok, that’s still more frequently than most of the people I know, but if you look the ratio “number of time I bake cookies / number of time I bake” (nobody’s against statistics right?), I’m clearly not on top.

So I thought of many explanations. Like the fact that I lived in the US for a few months. Or the fact that I’m the one cooking all those American classics that sometimes sound strange to French people (bread made of zucchinis? And muffins with carrots? Without speaking of cakes with cream cheese?...). Or the fact that half of my recipes are American ones (a 2 years subscription to Bon Appetit helped that), which means that I have dozens of different cookies recipes. So basically that I love the US, including the food, and what are cookies if not typically American?

But some people don’t know that. And even less do they know that I used to make and sell huge cookies in a bakery during my first stay in the US. We had peanut butter, M&M’s, molasses, chocolate chips, oatmeal raisins... It had become such a routine, cutting the dough, weighting, putting 5 M&M’s on every cookies, baking, etc... But this was nothing compared to the thousands of donuts I prepared, and that’s what I talk about when I think about my work in this restaurant.

So I guess the real reason for my cookies to be appreciated is that, when I make them, I prepare a lot of different kinds.
This way:
- People are happy because it gives them an excuse to eat a lot of cookies : they’ve got to try all the flavours!
- I can satisfy every one : even if you don’t like peanut butter, or raisins, or cinnamon, or white chocolate, you’ll still find something that doesn’t contain those ingredients.
- They seem to taste better (and this is tricky!) : even if they’re not that good, there’s always one that you prefer, and what you remember is “oh yeah, these were really standing out”. Actually, this is a very new theory of my own, but I’m sure it works!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re not crazy like me, you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, preparing four kinds of different cookies (four times more work, four time more dishes to wash!). But I don’t either! This is even the best part about cookies: it allows me to be lazy. I just double a basic dough recipe (like this one), divide the dough in 3 or 4 bowls, and add whatever I have on hand, depending on my inspiration: white chocolate & cranberries, cocoa & hazelnuts, oatmeal & chocolate chips, coffee and marshmallows (interesting results btw) and so on...
I know it’s not perfect, some combination should require more or less sugar or flour, but it works pretty fine.

So now you understand how captivated I was when reading this article from the NY Times. The key to the perfect cookies? Yes please! I could become a superstar with that! Or not... But I guess just having people enjoying a little more my cookies will be enough for me.

One month passed before I could try them. I wanted enough time & people to make a complete and scientific test. Because this is not (only) about the recipe. It’s about the secrets to make them better. Waiting 36 hours before baking. Using chocolate disks instead of chips or chunks. Jumbo sizing them. This is not what I’m used to. And I needed to compare on each of these criteria and see by myself if this was really making a difference.

Here are the results :

- Waiting 36 hours : just as in the article, I divided the dough in three batches, one baked immediately, one after 24 hours in the fridge, and the last one after 45 hours. And it is true that the texture was quite better. The 45 hours cookies were more crumbly on the edge, browner and crispier. This made the difference with the soft and chewy centre more noticeable. From now on, I will definitively prepare the dough at least one day in advance.

- Using chocolate disks : I did not have enough chocolate disks and completed with chunks and chips. We did not like the use of the dark chocolate disks : they were too big and too strong, and concealed the taste of the cookies. In our opinion, the chunks were the perfect size, but if you’re a chocolate addict, you might disagree with us.

- Jumbo size : Wow, when I first read six inches (and converted it in centimetres! a.k.a. 15 cm), I was incredulous. And what, bake them 4 by 4, because they don’t fit in the baking pan? Is this just about wanting everything big, just like the serving size in the restaurants? Well, I was wrong. Size is important. The smaller ones were hard once at room temperature, while the bigger ones (especially the 24h batch) became a little chewy in the inside. It depends on the texture you want to achieve... In my family, they’re gonna be jumbo size now!

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This is the recipe inspired from the NY Times, but the previous advices could be applied to any other...
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter
1 1/8 cups brown sugar
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 vanilla pod
1 pounds bittersweet chocolate chunks
Sea salt.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Using your mixer, cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough. Eat warm.


Cookies aux pépites de chocolat

480g de farine
3 cuillères à café de levure
1 cuillère à café de sel
250g de beurre à température ambiante
280g de sucre brun
225g de sucre
2 oeufs
1 gousse de vanille
400g de chocolat, grossièrement brisé
Fleur de sel

Mélangez la farine, la levure et le sel dans un saladier à part.
En utilisant la spatule de votre robot, travaillez le beurre ramolli avec les sucres jusqu'à ce que le mélange blanchisse. Ajoutez les graines de vanille et les oeufs, un par un, en mélangeant bien après chaque addition. Réduisez la vitesse du robot et ajoutez le mélange à base de farine. Ne travaillez pas trop la pâte (environ 15 secondes). Incorporez ensuite les morceaux de chocolat en mélangeant avec une cuillère, pour ne pas les casser.
Couvrez la pâte d’un film plastique et réfrigérez 24 à 36 heures. La pâte peut être utilisée en plusieurs fois et peut être réfrigérée jusqu'à 72 heures.
Préchauffez le four à 170°.
Tapissez les plaques à pâtisserie de papier sulfurisé. A l’aide d’une cuillère à glace (ou d’une grosse cuillère), faites des tas de pâte de la taille d’une balle de golf, et disposez les sur la plaque. Prenez soin de les espacer suffisamment pour ne pas qu’ils se collent entre eux lors de la cuisson. Saupoudrez légèrement de fleur de sel et enfournez pour environ 15 à 20 minutes. Plus les cookies seront colorés, plus ils seront secs. Si vous les aimez moelleux avec le cœur pâteux, sortez les du four lorsque le milieu du cookie est encore clair.
Laissez les refroidir quelques minutes avant de les transférer sur une grille.
Dégustez les encore chauds.

6 commentaires:

Mélanie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

cax2010 said...

Merci Mélanie
je garde les chunks et tu m'as convaincu de garder la pate au frais 24 h.
Mais problème : si j'ai envie de faire des cookies, c'est aussi pour les manger de suite ...

Juliette said...

OK j'essaireai ! C'est promis... mais avec ma recette de cookies, of course;-)

Mélanie said...

Je ne fais pas le poids face à Mickey, je peux le comprendre!!

Bea said...

Yum. These look tasty!

thesecondpancake said...

Chocolate chip cookies are one of the things I've never tried making. There are so many recipes and styles out there that I think I'm afraid of trying any for fear or choosing the wrong one. I like the scientific approach here, maybe I'll give jumbo, rested-dough cookies a try :)

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