Almost Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you tweet?  Or twitter? Or whatever it’s called?  I didn’t until this past weekend.  I’m not sure what made me do it, cuz it’s not like I need another distraction!  I just signed up to see what all the tweeting was about.  I’m glad I did it though, because I came across Christopher Kimball’s blog (of America’s Test Kitchen fame) and saw this chocolate chip cookie recipe (it shows up correctly on my iPhone, but for some reason doesn’t on my desktop). 

"perfect" chocolate chip cookies

He (and America’s Test Kitchen) may think they’re perfect, but I’m not sure I’d go quite that far.  They are definitely closer to what I’ve been looking for in MY perfect chocolate chip cookie: they’re larger than an average cookie, they aren’t thin and flat, they are chewy with a slight crispness and have a nice buttery flavor.  I think next time I’d add just a little bit more chocolate.  But that’s just me.  🙂

"perfect" chocolate chip cookies

I ran into a little bit of a problem as I was browning the butter.  I guess the center of my pan got hotter than the rest, so I started getting these brown bits of butter.  Mind you, I’ve never browned butter, so I’m not sure if I was doing it right or not.  Does the butter start turning brown bit by bit?  Or does all of the butter turn brown at the same time? Was I supposed to be swirling the pan the entire time (I guess the recipe does say “constantly”)? Should I have left it alone?  Did my butter even get brown enough? Regardless of whether I not the butter was browned properly, the cookies came out just fine. 

"perfect" chocolate chip cookies

Another method used in these cookies is the whisking of the “wet” ingredients and letting them sit for 3 minutes, then whisking again, and repeating two more times.  He doesn’t explain what this process does, just that you want the mixture to be “thick, smooth, and shiny” at the end of the process.  Anyone have any ideas on this?  I’m just curious. 

Almost Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 16 cookies
Adapted from Christopher Kimball Blog
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped

Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line two large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, and then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 8 balls, two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

*Note from the blog: Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored (I used light brown sugar and it was just fine).

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Dorie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

…but definitely not mine. 

dorie's best ccc

I buy cookbooks based on reviews as well as the pictures.  I like to see the finished product.  That’s probably the reason why most of my photos show the end result and not how I got there. 😛  What irks me is when you see the picture, you follow recipe and what you end up with looks nothing like what’s in the cookbook.  This happened with the chocolate chip cookies I made following the Baked recipe and now, with the recipe I followed in the Baking cookbook (minus the nuts).  The cookies in the photo weren’t thick, but they weren’t flat either.  And I knew they were going to have a softer texture rather than chewy (the amount of white sugar was higher than brown sugar), which was fine. I’m looking for a cookie I can call my favorite, so I’m trying lots of different recipes. 

dorie's best ccc

I should have just passed on by as soon as I saw these words: “They are Toll House cookies’ kin, but I think my nips, tucks, tweaks and variations on the classic recipe make them their own kind of wonderful.” I am not a fan of the Toll House cookie. They just don’t get my vote for favorite. 

090803.1 dorie's best ccc - book
scanned from Baking, From My Home to Yours

My cookies looked nothing like the ones in the book. They were flat and thin.  I even let a batch chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes and those still didn’t look anything like hers.  I was so dissapointed.  Ugh.  The flavor was ok.  More buttery than chocolatey, but I didn’t put in my usual 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules.  That always seems to add more flavor to my cookies. I also took half the chocolate chips and chopped them up a bit.  1) Because I like to integrate the chocolate into the dough, rather than just putting the chips in there and 2) because I used Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips and those are larger than the normal size chocolate chips.  I love biting into the part of the cookie where those chips are because I get this wonderful burst of bittersweet chocolate and it tastes sooo good. 

dorie's best ccc

My in-laws were dropping MC off at the house around the time I baked these, so they left here with a dozen.  😛  They don’t care what kind of chocolate chip cookie it is.  They’ll eat it.

dorie's best ccc

I usually make half batches when I try out new recipes, but for some reason I made the entire recipe.  I ended up baking two dozen and froze the rest of the dough.  We’ll see if those turn out any better.

Dorie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: Approximately 3 ½ dozen
Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ pound butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix by hand with a rubber spatula.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheet and lay them about 2 inches apart from each other.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center. Allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, and then carefully transfer them to rack to cool.

Notes:
The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen. You can freeze individual balls of dough on a lined baking sheet and then bag them when they’re solid. There is no need to defrost the dough before baking. Just add another minute or two to the baking time.

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Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alternate Title: “Use Good Cocoa Powder”

These cookies came to be because I wanted something sweet, something easy to bake and something with chocolate. I knew that if I was going to make a chocolate cookie, I wanted to use white chocolate to offset the color, as well as complement the flavor.

chocolate white chocolate chip cookie

Beh. That’s all I have to say about these cookies. Beh. Not my favorite for sure. MC ate it up, but he’ll basically eat anything with sugar. Hubby thought it reminded him of a brownie in cookie form. Sure, the texture was there and the white chocolate was great. But, I think the cocoa powder I used is what made this cookie “meh” for me.

I usually buy Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. But, last time I bought some Nestle Tollhouse Cocoa Powder. (These are really the only two easily available to me, without purchasing online or paying out the wazoo.) I don’t think I’ll be making that purchase again. The flavor of the Nestle cocoa powder was somewhat bland and the color was not as deep and rich as the Special Dark.

chocolate white chocolate chip cookie

Next time I’ll use the good stuff.  🙂  In defense of the original recipe, it did say to use dutch processed cocoa powder.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 20 cookies
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups white chocolate chips
2 oz white chocolate, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt.

In your mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, place about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Top each cookie with a chunk of white chocolate.

Bake for approximately 8-9 minutes or until the cookies are still soft in the center but are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Snickerdoodle Dandy

snickerdoodles

If you’ve never had a snickerdoodle, you don’t know what you’re missing.  And if you think it’s just a gussied up sugar cookie, you’d be wrong, wrong, wrong.  It has so much more flavor and depth than that. These cookies are cinnamony and soft and delicious. 

snickerdoodles

MC’s teachers know how much I love to bake and I’ve told them before, if they need treats for any of his class picnics or activities, to just let me know.  This week is Hawaiin Luau week and MC’s teachers asked if I’d bring some cookies.  I thought about trying to match the theme and discussed it with the teachers, but  we decided on these instead.  That way we didn’t have to worry about allergies or anything like that. 

snickerdoodles

I used the recipe from The Secrets of Baking cookbook and ended up having to make two batches because, despite the fact that Miss Sherry Yard says the recipe should make 3 1/2 dozen cookies, I ended up with 1 1/2 dozen.(The recipe below reflects a double batch.)  I mean, yes, mine were bigger than her recommended 3 inches, but not double. Oh well.

snickerdoodles

Since I had to make another batch, I decided to try it out with margarine, just to see if I could tell the difference.  I think I actually like the one made with margarine a little bit better.  Maybe it was the texture or maybe because the flavor was just a bit different, I’m not totally sure.  The dough made with butter was definitely firmer than the dough made with margarine.   I think that’s why the butter doodles were a little rounded; they kept their shape.  But, I liked the way the margarine snickers cracked a bit on top. I flattened the second tray of butter doodles and got a less rounded cookie than the first tray. 

snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles
Yield: 3 dozen
Adapted from The Secrets of Baking
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ pound cold unsalted butter or margarine*, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 ½ cup sugar, plus ½ cup for dusting
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Directions:
In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; set aside.

Cream butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Cream the mixture on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the eggs and beat on low until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Remove dough and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl.

Pinch off pieces of chilled dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Drop the balls into the cinnamon sugar and coat thoroughly. Place balls 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the cookies look dry and feel firm.

*If using margarine, omit or decrease salt amount. Also note, the cookies spread just a little more with margarine, but I liked it that way.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Thanks to the 11 of you who voted in my poll. 🙂 I ended up making a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake that turned out fabulous. I even did something I probably shouldn’t have done and used a new-to-me Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It’s out of a cookbook I’ve had for almost two years now (The Secrets of Baking) and finally got around to trying the cookie recipe.

chocolate chip cookie cake

Whenever we go to the in-laws I always bring them leftover goodies, or make something to specifically take to them. Everyone in the family has a sweet tooth and love the fact that I bring anything at all. For Father’s Day I wanted to do something kind of special and different so the cookie cake won out. My original thought was something you see at the mall, like at Great American Cookies.  But I didn’t have a pan big enough and didn’t want to go out and buy something just for this.  So I went with a “layered” cookie cake. 

chocolate chip cookie cake

The recipe from The Secrets of Baking was the perfect size to make two rounds.  I divided the dough among the two pans and flattened them out with my hands.  I baked them for just a little bit longer than the original called for and they came out great.

chocolate chip cookie cake

It doesn’t matter which way you layer the cookies.  Just make sure the top one is “top” up, so you can tell it looks like a big chocolate chip cookie.  I just used store bought chocolate frosting and smeared a thin layer in between the two cookies.  I wanted to pipe a line around the outside between the two cookies, but the frosting was too loose, so I ended up just frosting the entire thing. The top looked a bit bare, so I piped some stars around the edges too. You could always make your own.  I almost went with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, but I barely had time or energy to get this cake made!

chocolate chip cookie cake
my nephew’s finger – he really wanted the frosting

I ended up taking this cake, the Strawberry Cheese Pie and some homemade hamburger buns (I’ll post about these in the future, after I’ve perfected them) with us.  Everyone loved them. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Adapted from The Secrets of Baking
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ pound cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
8 ounces chocolate chips/chunks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans; set aside.

In a medium bowl sift or whisk the flour and baking soda; set aside.

Cream butter until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add sugar, brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Cream the mixture until smooth.

Add egg and beat on low until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat.

Add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips or chunks.

Divide the dough between the two cake pans. Pat into the cake pans and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes.

Allow cookie cakes to cool completely before decorating.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

strawberry shortcake cookies
MC’s hands are always in my cookie shots!

cookiecarnivalIt’s been a few months since I participated in The Clean Plate Club’s monthly Cookie Carnival.  I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with my pregnancy, and now, the newest member of our family.  She’s a delight and a handful all at the same time. I’m getting some sleep, just not all at one time. 

baby shower

I love fresh strawberries.  I’ll eat them plain, in yogurt, on top of ice cream, in cake, and now, in cookies. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big strawberry shortcake eater, but when they come in cookie form, who can resist? 

strawberry shortcake cookies

They had a hint of richness from the heavy cream and weren’t too sweet.  I used my fingers to rub in the butter, because it’s just more fun to use my hands.  It’s the one time I can play with my food.  I’d suggest making these the day you’re going to serve them.  I went to grab one the next day and they had softened up too much for me.

strawberry shortcake cookies

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Yield: 18 cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
6 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (approx 1 cup)
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup heavy cream
Red sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining granulated sugar in a large bowl.

Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart.

Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

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Chocolate Almond Biscotti

chocolate almond biscotti

I drink coffee every day.  Just one cup of half-caf with one splenda packet and milk.  (I’m not sure if Hubby knows it’s half-caf…guess he does now.) I like to enjoy my coffee with nothing else.  No muffins or donuts or scones.  Just my coffee.  So, when I saw that this month’s Cookie Carnivalcookie was Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti, I was excited because it was something I’d never made before, but a little disappointed because it was something I don’t usually eat. Oh well.  I was going to take a stab at it anyway, because that’s what this is all about, trying something new. 

Cookie Carnival is a monthly event hosted by Kate over at The Clean Plate Club.  Each month she selects a cookie that she wants to try and sends the recipe out to all the participants.  You can modify the recipe or make it as is.  And a roundup will be posted at the beginning of next month, for the current month.

chocolate almond biscotti
after first baking period

With all recipes, I couldn’t just follow it exactly.  😉  First of all, I’m not about to make 4 dozen biscotti cookies when I don’t think I’ll eat more than a handful, so I halved the recipe.  The hazelnuts were replaced with almonds, since I’m not a huge fan.  Mmmm, almonds.  I’m trying to incorporate whole wheat flour into my baked goods, just to see how it changes the flavors and textures, so I decided to go ahead and use it here as well.  I didn’t have any regular chocolate chips, so I substituted white chocolate chips. Which reminds me.  If I keep making things with what’s on hand, I’ll need to stock up again soon.  😉

chocolate almond biscotti
before going into the oven a second time

The biscotti turned out pretty good, well, the dozen or so that actually made it through the second baking period anyway.  It’s my fault really.  I cut one of the logs and went to transfer them to the baking sheet, but left the cutting board too close to the edge.  Tumble, crash, smash and pieces everywhere.  Argh. It was very disappointing to see my work go down the drain, but as Hubby puts it, there are going to be lots and lots of disasters in my kitchen career.  Thanks honey.  That really helped me get through it. 

chocolate almond biscotti

I ended up taking some to the in-laws this weekend and my fil, who honestly knows nothing about biscotti, commented on how it was good, but that he thought it’d go well with coffee in the morning, for dunking.  I smiled and told him that biscotti is usually enjoyed with a cup of tea of coffee. I’d say that makes it a success.  🙂

chocolate almond biscotti

Chocolate-Almond Biscotti
Yield: Approximately 2 dozen
Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 1999
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
¾ cup almonds (I used slivered)
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, medium
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Grind ¼ cup almonds in processor; set aside.

Whisk flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl until blended. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in ½ cup almonds, white chocolate chips and ¼ cup ground almonds.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 ½ inches wide by 7 inches long logs.

Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 ½ inches apart (logs will spread during baking).

Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes.

Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife cut warm logs crosswise into ½ inch thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets.

Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to racks and cool completely.