Build a Better Chocolate Chip Cookie...and the world will love You
For the past 50 years, I have made chocolate chip cookies once a week, average.
Each recipe yields about 50. That’s 130,000 cookies.
I made them for many reasons. People like c-c-c’s – children and adults, equally. People appreciate the effort. Cookies open doors, break the ice: Pack a few extras in your child’s lunchbox and stand back.
I can’t imagine buying a chocolate chip cookie. Commercial ones are different than homemade. Enough said. Bakery cookies taste nice, if greasy. Still, I’m not paying anybody a buck for a cookie, no matter how giant.
I could recite my recipe backward, in Cantonese. Along the way I’ve developed some refinements and methods.
Here’s 50 years in a nutshell:
Basic recipe: Cream 1 stick butter and 1 stick regular margarine with ¾ cup each light brown and white sugar. Beat in two eggs and 1½
teaspoons vanilla. Whisk together 2 cups unsifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt. Beat into wet ingredients. Stir in 2½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 355 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until as brown as desired. Slide off parchment onto counter to cool.
For a crisper cookie, use all butter. Use only regular stick margarine (Land o’ Lakes is good), not “light” or “spread” or anything not marked margarine. Cookies made with vegetable shortening (Crisco) taste commercial. For a super-yummy cookie, use all butter, one whole egg and two yolks.
For a very thin, crisp cookie, decrease flour by 3 tablespoons and baking soda to ¾ teaspoon.
Invest in bakers-quality pure vanilla extract found at T.J. Maxx, Fresh Market or online. It is more expensive, but stronger.
Chips make a huge difference. Mix semisweet chips with Nestle chocolate chunks. Try the new dark chocolate chips or chop dark chocolate bars. Mix peanut butter or butterscotch chips with the chocolate. White baking chips have no flavor. Be careful with store-brand chips; some are fine, others awful.
For a fun bite-sized cookie, use only mini-chips and make cookies small.
Nuts or not? Purists don’t want them. If you do, lightly toasted coarsely chopped pecans are better than walnuts.
“Secret” ingredient: Toss a handful of sweetened, flaked coconut into the dough. A sprinkle of cinnamon is interesting.
For chocolaty chocolate chip cookies, whisk 3 tablespoons cocoa into flour.
Cookie sheets also divide bakers. I prefer shiny aluminum lined with parchment paper — a worthwhile luxury and reusable — over dark, nonstick. Cookies will cook evenly without over-browned bottoms. Lacking parchment, allow cookie sheets to cool between batches.
Oven temperature: Most recipes say 375 degrees. At that temperature, you have to watch the cookies closely. Baking is more even with less burning at 355-360 degrees. Bake cookies higher in the oven rather than lower.
Let cookies cool completely before putting them in a covered container. If cookies are too hard the second day, put a piece of fresh white bread in the container and close tightly. This softens them overnight.
Lazy bakers spread dough in a greased jelly-roll pan (with sides) and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cut into bars while still warm. For slice-and-bake use only mini chips. Chill dough until stiff. With floured hands, form dough into several rolls, wrap in plastic, refrigerate or freeze.
Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Bring to room temperature before baking. Cookies also freeze well. Pack cooled cookies into zipper plastic bags or containers with tight-fitting lids. Eat straight from the freezer, or thaw.
Once you have memorized and mastered a chocolate chip cookie recipe, preparation’s a snap. Then, to family and friends, you are forever a god/goddess.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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