Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mocha Chocolate Chips

Mocha Chocolate Chips - made November 3, 2010 from Baking with Julia by Julia Child (book #6)

I have high expectations of any recipe from Julia Child.  I'm sorry to say this recipe didn't live up to them.  I omitted the apricots because a) I don't believe in fruit in cookies, b) I don't like apricots and c) I wanted to make these as a coffee-flavored chocolate chip cookie.

When you strip this recipe down to its core, it's another version of the chocolate chip cookie with the addition of coffee for the "mocha" flavor.  So I made it like I do any chocolate chip cookie: mix up the dough, portion into dough balls, and put in the freezer overnight.  Then I baked them, this time using the convection setting on my new oven.  I was so excited for that convection oven, envisioning the demise of flat, thin cookies.  Because I'm baking with a convec, right?  Well, maybe not.  Turns out even a convection oven won't counter the spread of a cookie if the ingredients are such that the cookies are going to spread regardless of what you do.  Freezing the dough beforehand and baking in a convection oven didn't prevent these from spreading as thin as if I'd baked them without chilling and in a normal oven.  Disappointing.

Despite their appearance, their taste is pretty good, especially if you like coffee or mocha flavors.  One of my coworkers raved about these, loved them and went back for seconds (or thirds).  Another one, not knowing I had made them when I put the cookies out in our communal kitchen, wasn't so complementary.  While I was in the kitchen, she peered at the plate of flat cookies, made a somewhat derogatory comment about their appearance and wondered aloud if someone had tried "microwaving" the cookies.  Sigh.  You have to have a thick skin here.  I could make a comment about not judging a book by its cover (she hadn't eaten any but other people who had liked them) but in reality, appearance does matter when it comes to the food we eat.  We want things to look appetizing - that's part of the dining experience.  I'm more about taste than appearance when it comes to food but I also know presentation and appearance matters.  I may or may not try to tinker with these cookies to make them look better next time.  Although, for the record, I didn't think they looked that bad.  Just flat.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder (according to your taste)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound chocolate (bittersweet, milk, or white, or a combination), cut into larger than chocolate chip sized chunks
½ pound plump, moist apricots, coarsely chopped (optional)

1.        Whisk the flour, coffee powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl to blend; set aside.
2.       Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitting with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until the butter lightens in color.  Add the granulated sugar and beat for about 30 seconds, just to blend.  Add the brown sugar and beat for another 30 seconds.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition.  The mixture should be light and fluffy; if necessary, beat 1 more minute.  Add the vanilla and beat until blended.
3.       Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and clean the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the chocolate chunks and the apricots, if you are using them, and stir them with the spatula to distribute equally.
4.       Chilling the dough: Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for several hours or overnight, to firm.  I portioned into dough balls and put in ziploc freezer bags to freeze overnight.
5.       Baking the cookies: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Line two heavy-duty baking sheets with parchment paper.
6.       Drop the dough balls onto the lined sheets, leaving at least 2 inches of space between each dough ball so that the cookies have room to spread.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking period, until the center is just baked – they’ll still be soft to the touch.  Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
7.       Storing: Wrapped in plastic bags or in tins, the cookies will keep at room temperature for 2 days.  They can be frozen for up to a month and should be thawed at room temperature.  Note: I never freeze baked cookies.  Just bake only as much as you need and keep the cookie dough in the freezer until you need to bake more.

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