Thursday, June 30, 2016

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Bon Appetito

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough June 11, 2016 from The Bon Appetito
You’d think after making so many chocolate chip cookies, one recipe after another in a fairly short period, that I would get sick of them, become really jaded and elevate “The Best” category to some Holy-Grail-like stature. I am really jaded and I am super picky but I’m not yet sick of chocolate chip cookies. Hey, I sacrifice for my craft and if that means trying out more cookie recipes and eating them, I’m all in.

I was going to end this series with the copycat LevainBakery recipe from Broma Bakery but this was a late entry of “hey, let’s try just one more” and I’m glad I persisted because this also ended up being an amazing cookie. Can’t really articulate which this was so good/great/the best that would differentiate it from the Broma Bakery recipe other than it also makes big, thick cookies and I love the flavor. I’m not going to question it too closely.
You’ll notice some of the cookies look like they had milk chocolate chunks and others like they had semisweet chocolate chips. I didn’t made two batches but ran short on the chocolate chunks towards the end of scooping out the cookie dough so I had to supplement with the chocolate chips. You make do with what you have. And now I’ve ended up with 3 more recipes for chocolate chip cookies to add to the 4 that are already on my go-to list. You can’t have too many great recipes for awesome cookies.
So let’s recap some key learnings from my highly unscientific study. I deliberately didn’t go into how certain ingredients might make a cookie more this or less that. Because this isn’t science class and I’m no scientist, just a baking hobbyist. But here are some common sense learnings:
Baking the cookies at high heat initially is fine to help it set quickly and not spread too much but don’t leave it at that high temperature for more than the first 5 minutes or so. Preheat it high then lower the temp to 350-365 degrees, depending on your oven. I found even baking at 375 degrees the whole way through still burns some of the chocolate chips.
Cookies with slightly more brown sugar than granulated sugar tended to taste better. A more prevalent amount of granulated sugar tends to make the cookie sweet without adding to the caramelized brown sugar overtones in a good chocolate chip cookie.
Always bake from frozen dough if you want thicker cookies. 
If you want more even thickness in your cookies versus a dome in the middle, shape the cookies into thick discs rather than golf-ball dough balls. This is strictly a personal preference decision only you can make. Just know if you bake as dough balls, the edges of the cookies will be thinner and bake to more crispness while the middles will be chubbier and more chewy. Baking as thick discs allows for cookies of a more even thickness and texture all around.
Always underbake – bake just until the edges are golden brown and the middle is no longer raw dough. Cookies continue to bake on hot cookie sheets even after you remove them from the oven and they’ll set as they cool.

Lastly, optimum cookie eating is when the chocolate chip cookies have been 10 minutes out of the oven. This gives them enough time for the edges to cool to crisp while the middles are gooey, the whole cookie is still warm but not hot and the chocolate is melty. Most importantly, enjoy every bite.
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used milk chocolate chunks and semisweet chocolate chips)
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, creamy together butter and sugars.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined after each addition.
  3. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla; mix until just combined. Add in chocolate; do not overmix.
  4. Scoop dough into golf-ball size balls and chill, covered, or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Evenly space dough 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned and middles are no longer raw, about 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chunk Cookies - Broma Bakery

Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chunk Cookies - made dough May 20, 2016 from Broma Bakery
Almost to the end of the series but not quite yet; here’s the second copycat Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookie recipe I found on pinterest that I tried out for this series. And yes, this secured one of the top three spots as best of the bunch. Although they weren’t as thick as the real Levain cookies, they still stayed fairly thick. And they tasted as good as they look. 

The only thing I changed from the original recipe is to cut back on the salt. The original recipe called for 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt; I only had iodized salt which is what I used and that’s actually a lot of salt for a normal-size recipe as most recipes have half that or less. I’m not sensitive to salt and don’t generally notice it unless something is too salty but that is what I noticed about this recipe. It was still good, I loved the texture but it would be better with just a tad less salt so I modified it accordingly for regular table salt.

When making cookies this big, I always advise using chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips. The cookies will be big enough to incorporate a lot of chocolate and you can’t go wrong with big chunks of chocolate getting all melty in your cookie. Conversely, with cookies this big, instead of chocolate chunks, you can use mini chocolate chips. Yes, mini. More chips to be able to work into the dough and more chocolate in every bite. I know that seems counterintuitive but it really is true. The mini chips don’t have to fight each other for space in the cookie like regular-size chocolate chips would and they can be more evenly distributed. Although you may need more than 1 bag though. I certainly used more than one Pound-Plus bar of milk chocolate from Trader Joe’s for this batch. 

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chunks
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the sugars and beat for another 1-2 minutes. Lower the speed to medium-low and mix in the eggs and vanilla; beat until just combined. Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  3. Portion the dough into large dough balls (larger than a golf ball for good-sized cookies), flatten slightly into thick discs, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space dough discs.
  5. Bake cookies for 15-17 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges and middles no longer look raw. If your chocolate chunks start to burn, lower heat to 360 degrees for the last 5 minutes of baking. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pinch of Yum Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pinch of Yum Chocolate Chip Cookies - made May 21, 2016, adapted from Pinch of Yum
Now we’re getting to the best of the best. Out of all the cookie recipes I tried one after the other, only three made the top spots and, despite the similarity of ingredients, really were different relative to each other. Or at least this was different from the other two at the top. You’ll know what I mean when you see the last ones I’m going to post.

But for now, let’s stick to this recipe from Pinch of Yum. If you like cute little, chubby cookies that can hold as many chocolate chunks as you wish and has a dough that’s easy to work with, here you go. This cookie was delicious. 

It’s also one of the ones where I subbed in ¼ cup turbinado sugar for ¼ cup of the granulated sugar and again, I think that’s one of the reasons why I loved it so much. In addition to the texture with its bit of crunch, it just tasted amazingly delicious (getting into repetitive hyperboles now). But then again, this is how I like my cookies: small(ish) for portion control, a bit of sweet crunch from the coarse sugar, caramel brown sugar flavor and milk chocolate chunky goodness. This one’s a keeper.

Be warned though that it doesn't make very many cookies, even portioned small. I only got 9 cookies out of this one and they weren't that big. So if you have a crowd to feed, at a minimum, I would double the recipe.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and browned
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup raw cane sugar/turbinado sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chunks (I cut up Hershey Kisses as that's all I had on hand at the time)
  1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the melted butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
  2. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. Add the chocolate chips and mix in with wooden spoon or your hands.
  3. Roll into golf-ball size balls or slightly smaller size. Cover, chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space frozen dough balls. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden. Do not overbake.
  5. Let cool on pan for a few minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hugs and Cookies' Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hugs and Cookies' Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough May 25, 2016, modified from Hugs and Cookies
This is one of the recipes where I consciously substituted ¼ cup of turbinado sugar for the granulated sugar and hence may be one of the reasons I ranked this in the “GREAT” category because I liked that sweet crunch.

But it also had the crisp edges and chewy middles I looked for in a good/great chocolate chip cookie. In addition, it was delicious.

The original recipe from Hugs & Cookies suggests preheating your oven to 425 degrees then lowering the temp to 375 when you put your cookies in to bake. The purpose is to set the cookies at high heat before they can spread too much. I tried it for the first baking sheet of cookies I put into the oven but even lowering it to 375 immediately after tended to brown my chocolate chips more than I wanted, probably because the oven was so hot to begin with. So I compromised by actually putting the cookies in at 360 degrees while my oven was still preheating to 375. It was at a high enough heat that the cookies could bake before spreading too much, it wasn’t so hot that my chocolate chips burned and by putting it in while the oven still had 15 degrees to heat, the oven was still actively heating. You know whenever you open your oven door, the heat escapes and the temp lowers. I’d rather put the cookies in while the oven is in active heating mode so when it stops at the proper temperature, my cookies are already safely in the oven.

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or 1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup turbinado sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Cream butter and both sugars together until well blended. Add vanilla, egg and yolk and mix until combined. 
  2. Add flour, salt and baking soda just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Portion into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and freeze or chill for several hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space dough balls on baking sheets. Place in preheated oven and immediately reduce temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake 9 minutes or until edges are brown and middles are no longer raw. (Alternatively, you can do what I did and preheat oven to 375 degrees. When oven is at 360 degrees, place cookies in oven to bake and continue preheating to 375. Let bake at 375 for several minutes to set then reduce temp to 360 and finish baking.) Let cool on baking sheets for several minutes then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Lisa G Cooks

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough May 22, 2016 from Lisa G Cooks
I had such high hopes for this cookie based on the picture of it on the original blog Lisa G Cooks. On her blog, it looked exactly like how I liked my cookies: chubby, pretty much the same shape as when the dough ball was scooped and looked super chewy and moist. That picture is why I decided to try her recipe in the first place.

Alas, mine didn’t look like hers at all. For one thing, they spread. They didn’t spread thin but they definitely didn’t stay like a round dough ball. Bummer. At 8 minutes, which is how long the recipe said to bake them for, they were spread-out raw dough. I’m not kidding. So I baked them a little longer, like a more traditional recipe and they came out like a more traditional cookie instead of a barely-baked cooked dough ball.

However, once I got past the optical expectations (which weren’t met), I was almost surprised by how much I liked the taste of this cookie. I won’t go into a bunch of rapturous descriptions but I will say, in the group of recipes I tested, this goes into the “GREAT” category. I think it was the pronounced caramelization of the brown sugar flavor that won me over. Whatever it was was delicious.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until just incorporated.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add gradually to butter-sugar mixture, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Add chocolate chips. Portion into golf-ball-size dough balls and cover; chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space dough balls on baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes (or longer), until the edges have started to brown. Remove from oven and leave the cookies on the baking sheet to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.