Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie!

So, I clearly don't go around making chocolate chip cookies every other day in order to create the most perfect cookie. But I've made plenty a chocolate chip cookie in my day, and while they usually taste delicious, pretty is something I'm striving for, as I've mentioned before. Someday, when I am mass producing lots and lots of cookies, I will figure this out.

I found this helpful website on how to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie- if it's not perfect, it shows you what you did wrong and how to correct it. 

Problems with cookies
There are many variables in baking.  Pictured are cookies with various problems using the same dough (with flour adjustments in numbers 3 &4).
1.  This cookie is done just right. It is pictured to compare with the rest.
2.  This dough was not refrigerated.  It is still good but a little flatter than it should be.
3.  This dough contained too much flour and did not spread much at all. It is interesting to note that the dough looked identical to the correct dough, but was much stiffer and drier.
4.  This dough had too little flour.  It spread too much and didn’t bake evenly.
5.  This dough was over-mixed.  It had a poor color, baked flat and had a strange consistency.
6.  This dough was formed too small.  It was overcooked at eight minutes. It is fine to make smaller cookies, just bake them for less time.
7.  This dough was formed too large.  The outsides were done while the middle was too high and underdone.
8.  This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too hot.  The outside was overdone and the inside was slightly underdone.
9.  This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too cool.  It fell flat and became too crisp without much of an inside.
10.  This dough was frozen when baked.  It took longer to bake and didn'
t cook as evenly.  To use frozen dough, set on cookie sheet at room temperature while oven is preheating, 15-20 minutes.  It takes the frost off and bakes perfectly.
This picture was the most interesting part of the site for myself. I've definitely had cookies like number five before. I've paid hardly enough attention to over mixing dough in the past, but I'll be sure to do it as little as possible in the future. Having a mixer really helps on this one! I may even do what the website recommends, and toss my chocolate chips in before my flour, or at the same time, to prevent over mixing.

The thing that this class has REALLY made me realize is that your ingredients really really need to be weighed out. This website addresses that issue. Packing a measuring cup with flour can create many different actual amounts of flour going into your recipe, if you're not careful, especially since flour is airier than, say, packing brown sugar into a cup. That is why all of the recipes in my book for class has the ingredients listed out by weight, and we weigh everything instead of measuring it all out. Good thing I just got a nutritional kitchen scale for Christmas! =o)

Having all of that been said, my first attempt at chocolate chip cookies in class was pretty decent!

Since they sell these in the cafeteria at ECC and use them for events and whatnot, they make them mega huge for some reason. That's five ounces of cookie right there. I'd like to try this recipe using what it calls for, rolling out 1.5 ounces of cookie dough to be baked. 

My instructor claims that the best cookie recipe she uses at home is the one on the back of the package of Wegmans brand semi-sweet chocolate chips. She said it's slightly different than the Nestle Tollhouse chips, which is my go-to recipe, but I haven't checked out the differences yet. 

Anyways, for anyone interested in the whole weighing out your ingredients for baking process, here is the recipe for Chocolate chunk cookies. All of the recipes for my class come from the Mastering the Art and Craft, Baking & Pastry the 2nd edition, by The Culinary Institute of America. (how official of me! this is close to 1000 pages of baking tips and recipes, kids!)

Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes 4 dozen 1.5oz cookies
  • Pastry flour (all purpose is fine for home)     1 lb 5oz
  • Salt                                                         1/3 oz
  • Baking soda                                              1/3 oz
  • Butter                                                      14 oz
  • Granulated sugar                                       10 oz
  • Light brown sugar                                      6.5 oz
  • Eggs                                                        6 oz
  • Vanilla extract                                           1 tsp
  • Chocolate chunks                                       1 lb 5 oz
1. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.
3. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed with the paddle attachment, scraping down the bowl periodically, until the misture is smooth and light in color, about 5 minutes.
4. Combine the eggs and vanilla. Add to the butter-sugar mixture in 3 additions, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed.
5. On low speed, mix in the sifted dry ingredients and the chocolate chunks until just incorporated.
6. Divide the dough into 1.5-oz pieces and place on the prepared pans. Alternatively, the dough may be divided into 2 lb pieces, shaped into logs 16 inches long, wrapped tightly in parchment paper, and refrigerated until firm enough to slice. Slice each log into 16 pieces and arrange on teh prepared sheet pans in even rows.
7. Bake at 375 degrees F until golden brown around the edges, 12-14 minutes. Cool completely on the pans. Store in an airtight container.

Then, you will get this!


Well, a much smaller sized cookie than this. 

For completions sake, all though who in their right mind would want to think about this while eating this cookie, here are the nutritional facts:

Serving Size: 1 cookie, 46.9grams
Calories: 200
Total Fat: 10.6g
Saturated Fat: 6.5g
Cholesterol: 33mg
Sodium: 160mg
Total Carbs: 25.6g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1g
Sugars: 16g
Protein: 1.8g

The moral of this story is....everything in moderation! Or, go for a two mile run to indulge in this fantastic, melt in your mouth deliciousness! ;-) Keep in mind if you get more cookies from this recipe by cutting back on the size of the cookie you shape out to bake, it will be less calories. I promise you they will be delicious, either way!

I'm still trying to perfect my peanut butter cookie in class- I can't seem to take them out of the oven soon enough, and they are too brown on the bottom. But they just don't look cooked in the middle! Gah! My oatmeal cookies today came out brown around the edges- the instructor said they looked fine, but fine does not equal pretty in my book! Next time I'll make the dough and let it chill overnight. I will try again in the next couple weeks!

Now go bake something delicious to celebrate the arrival of February! One month closer to winter being over- then we're on to ice cream weather! ;-)


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