Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Puffed" Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my responsibilities at work is to lead my group's recruiting team for new college grad hiring. The team does resume reviews, phone screens, in-person interviews and candidate evaluations. Every Wednesday I have a "resume party" meeting where I gather some of the team to review that week's batch of resumes from graduating students. As a thank you (cough, bribe) for showing up to the resume party, I bake refreshments for the meeting. So Tuesday night is always baking night so I have something to bring to the Wednesday meeting. I asked the folks in my row if they had any baking requests (none of them are on the recruiting team but I like to share with my cube mates anyway) and Quincy, my Ops Finance partner, asked for chocolate chip cookies. Coincidentally I had a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer that I had made over the weekend so that request was easy enough to meet.

However, I had some reservations over this recipe. I had made the dough over the weekend and baked a test cookie. The reason I chose this recipe was it promised to be "puffed" or at least not spread thin. It lived up to its promise. Unfortunately, the reason it didn't spread was it used butter-flavored shortening instead of butter. I'm not a believer in shortening. It has its uses but it can never take the place of butter, especially when it comes to taste. I rarely bake with shortening and only did so this time because that's what the recipe called for. So either I'll never make this recipe again or I'll play with it and use butter but alter the rest of the recipe to prevent spreading. I like the thickness/puffiness of the cookie but wasn't crazy about the taste or texture. It's simply "okay". Oh, and because of my prejudice against nuts in cookies, I omitted the pecans and 2 tablespoons of butter altogether. Maybe that would've changed the recipe?

The recipe is from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher which goes into the science of baking and the effect ingredients have to influence the outcome of what you're cooking or baking. There aren't a lot of baking recipes in there since it's mostly a cooking cookbook but she did publish a follow up book called Bakewise that focuses on baking. I've been dying for Bakewise ever since it came out but I had banned myself from buying any new cookbooks since November 2008 because I already had so many (202 in fact), many of which have never been or barely been used. So no new cookbooks for me until I used more of what I had. A couple of weeks ago though, I came across a good deal on Bakewise on eBay so I broke my self-imposed ban and bought it. Unfortunately, the package ended up being stolen after the mailman delivered it last week so I'm still without Bakewise. I'll buy it again eventually but I'm letting the disappointment and angst over the stolen package fade first before I risk it again.

Anyway, back to this chocolate chip cookie recipe - since I'm a little leery of serving it and having it be associated with me (there's that pride and reputation to protect again) when I'm not wild about it so I baked a backup. I just took it out of the oven so it'll have to cool before I can cut it and take pictures. So that'll be tomorrow night's blog post.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - "Puffed" from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher, baked 11.17.09

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups cake flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
9 tablespoons butter-flavored shortening
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. On a large baking sheet, roast the pecans for 10 to 12 minutes. While the nuts are still hot, stir in 2 tablespoons butter.
3. Turn the oven up to 375˚F.
4. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.
5. Using an electric mixer, cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides once with a rubber spatula. Add the pecans and chocolate chips. Beat 5 seconds on low. Use the rubber spatula to finish mixing in well.
6. Spray cookie sheets lightly with nonstick cooking spray. With a tablespoon or small ice cream/food scoop, drop slightly heaped tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart onto the greased sheets. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the sheet on a cooling rack for 3 minutes, then remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

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