Sunday, June 19, 2016

Copycat Mrs Fields Cookies with Caramel-Filled Chocolate Chips

Copycat Mrs Fields Cookies - made dough April 16, 2016 from Averie Cooks
First up in the "Good" category
There was a period in my adolescence when I would’ve sold my soul – or at least rented it out – for the recipe of the real Mrs. Fields’ cookies. I loved those things. It was the first time in my early memory where I remember you could buy a cookie at the mall and they were delicious. Prior to Mrs. Fields’, if you wanted a “homemade” cookie, you made it at home.  I spent years trying to recreate those cookies and despaired of ever coming up with a thick, chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe. The recipe on the Nestle Tollhouse package just couldn’t cut it. Even now, years later when I have no less than 4 go-to recipes for my “perfect” chocolate chip cookie, any new ones that claim to be a knock off of the Mrs. Fields’ cookie catches my eye.
I had read Debbi Fields’ autobiography and scored through all the cooking magazines that talked about the tips she sparingly gave about how to make her cookies. Besides the usual yada yada about using the freshest ingredients (who doesn’t do that? No, don’t tell me), I remember her talking about the key was to bake at a low temperature. That always seemed counterintuitive to me because a lower baking temperature just gives the cookie more time to spread. You don’t want that. But this copycat recipe advocated the same thing so I thought maybe I was just wrong.

I did all the usual, mix it with cold butter, don’t overmix, portion and freeze the dough balls, preheat the oven fully on the convection setting and bake from frozen dough. I did 2 test batches, one baked at the recommended 300 degrees F and one at the usual 350 degrees F, both on the convection setting. Now here’s the thing: the cookies baked at the lower temp spread out more and flattened. The next baking sheet of frozen dough balls, still from the same batch of cookie dough, baked at the higher temp, spread less and baked thicker. Intuitive, right? Consider my head scratched because I don’t know how Mrs. Fields did it but I can’t replicate it.

No matter. It was one good lesson learned that it's still better to bake at a higher temperature (at least 350 degrees) if you don't want flat cookies. These were good cookies and turned out well but they didn’t knock any one of my top 4 favorites from their elevated perch. One last note, for the chocolate chips, I used the “Delightfuls” which were slightly larger than normal chips filled with caramel. I thought they would be the mini version of the caramel-filled Hershey kisses with flowy caramel. Nope. Actually, if you didn’t know the chips were filled with caramel, you would never have guessed. They just seemed like normal chocolate chips. There didn’t seem to be enough caramel inside the chips to make an impression. Just a note in case you think the Delightfuls are worth the extra $$s instead of a bag of  regular chocolate chips. Nah, they’re unfortunately not as Delightful as expected. It didn’t detract from the goodness of the cookie but my higher hopes for gooey, melt-y caramel chocolate goodness were dashed.
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together to form a grainy paste, 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until just combined.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda and salt; beat on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Add chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space frozen dough balls. Bake 15-16 minutes or until edges are brown and tops no longer look raw. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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