Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Flour

Chocolate Chunk Cookies - made dough June 14, 2011, from Flour by Joanne Chang (borrowed from the library)

I used chopped up Hershey Kisses instead of chocolate chips

At this point in my life and baking challenge, I like to think I've evolved enough that I no longer rush out and buy every new cookbook that comes out, like I used to do 129 baking books ago (and beyond - I still have quite a few more cookbooks in my collection to bake from).  Instead I rush to my library to see if they have a copy of it and check it out for a few weeks.  Sort of like a try-before-you-buy kind of deal.  It's really amazon's fault when you think about it.  Whenever I go to, they know I'm there and are savvy enough to serve up "recommendations" bound to tempt me.  I probably have "sucker" attached to my ID when I log on.  Based on my past buying behavior, they recognize what I'm going to be interested in and float all these new cookbooks I would've been just as happy not knowing about.  But once I know about them, there's no un-spilling the milk of that knowledge.  Flour by Joanne Chang, the same name as her Boston bakery, is one such book.  Never heard of Flour (the bakery or the cookbook) before until I saw it on amazon.  Suddenly flour was more than just a baking ingredient.  It was a recipe book.  With pictures.  Do I need to explain further?

As you might guess, there are a variety of recipes in this book and many to tempt me to try them out.  I chose her chocolate chip cookie recipe to test out however because I haven't done "comfort baking" with chocolate chip cookies since I tried out Alton Brown's (yummy) chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Time to try another version.  Lisa, from Sweet as Sugar Cookies, also tried them out in her quest for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and she gave it a definite thumbs up on her blog the day after I had borrowed Flour from the library.  Seemed like as good a sign as any to try this recipe for myself.

I chilled the dough for the requisite 24 hours before I baked a test batch.  Normally I portion out the cookie dough and put them directly into the freezer but it occurred to me that freezing them isn't the same as chilling them to allow the flavors to develop.  So the fridge it was.  I baked a test batch and then put the rest of the chilled dough into the freezer for baking off later.  Hmm, I have to say, these spread a little more than I expected, considering I baked them on the convection setting of my oven.  Perhaps because they were only chilled instead of baked from frozen? 

In any case, my skepticism rose, especially since the raw cookie dough looked similar to the normal Tollhouse cookie recipe (which spreads too much in my opinion).  However, these tasted amazing.  They were really quite good.  I couldn't quite put my finger as too why but as a slightly warm cookie, they were delicious.  Although, of course, most cookies are if you eat them that fresh - but still, I'd give them points above many of the other warm cookies I've tried.  I baked off enough to bring down for my nieces' graduation and they lasted about a day and a half (we ate our way through the brownies first).  I normally don't eat cookies "that old" but I was curious enough to try a bite before they disappeared.  As you can guess, I was less enamored of them then.  They seemed sweeter.  Not quite dry but definitely not as moist as before.  So I would go back to my old habit of only eating cookies either 10 minutes out of the oven or no later than the day I make them.  Maybe even the morning after but that's pushing it.

Oh and I did try again a couple of nights ago and baked these cookies from frozen dough and they still spread as much as when I baked from merely chilled dough.  A little disappointing.  It's possible my butter was too soft when I first mixed the dough (weather's been getting warmer here) but still, I would've expected chilling and freezing to have helped with that.  For now, I think I'll stick with my version of Alton Brown's recipe with browned butter chocolate chip cookies.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
¾ cup (165 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (150 grams) bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/ teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ½ ounces milk chocolate, chopped, about ½ cup

1.     Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined.  Scrape the bowl and the paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
2.     In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, baking soda and salt until well mixed.  Add the semisweet and milk chocolates and toss to combine.  On low speed (or with a wooden spoon), slowly add the flour-chocolate mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.
3.     For the best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 3-4 hours) before baking.  When you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.
4.     Drop the dough in ¼-cup balls onto a baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
5.     Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are olden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center.  Don’t let them get brown through and through.  Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
6.     The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.  The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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