27 Jul2008

cookies2

Our chocolate labrador gives some freshly baked chocolate shard cookies a big fat yawn… She seems to be thinking “there he goes again, baking up another batch of cookies with chocolate in them, so I will never be given even a teeny, tiny piece to munch on” (dogs should not ingest substantial amounts of chocolate). But if you are one of the 92% of readers responding to the chocolate chip cookie poll who has eaten a chocolate chip cookie at least once in the past year, or the 51% who have enjoyed them at least 10 times in the past year, keep reading. I have baked chocolate chip cookies hundreds of times and in the past few years settled into a fairly tried and true recipe, which included some refrigerator time for the dough and forming the cookies while dipping my hands in ice cold water while handling the dough. I felt our house recipe (mostly based on Maida Heatter’s, who based it on Mrs. Wakefield’s (the inventor of the cookie), was pretty good. So what caused the sudden re-think and baking up this batch of utterly stunning cookies? The New York Times Food Section, of course. Sister arrived for a short visit a couple of weeks ago and brought with her the Dining In section of the July 9, 2008 New York Times with the headline “Perfection? It’s Warm and Has a Secret”, with an accompanying nearly half page photograph of some stunning looking chocolate chip cookies. The article, by David Leite, seeks to bring the PERFECT or IDEAL recipe for chocolate chip cookies to lovers of this treat, first made in the 1930’s…

cookies1

As usual, the article was well worth the read, and the paper it was printed on, unlike so many poorly crafted food articles in other publications (this blog included, but you don’t pay for this blog nor do I use much paper to get a post to you). It was informative to read about the history of the cookie, but more importantly, it was intriguing if not personally challenging to read about tips and secrets applied to ensure a stunningly good example of a chocolate chip cookie. With just a few key ingredients, one has to believe that the quality and temperature of the butter is critical, as is the use of the best quality organic eggs and of course, superb chocolate chips or disks or shards. I had already applied the dough in fridge technique, though only for minutes, not overnight and it was interesting to read why the stint in the fridge has such a positive impact on the flavor of the cookie. Salt was known factor, but not in the way it is suggested in the article. Finally, the size of the cookie and the manner in which it is baked, were also interesting to read about. But the most critical point of the article? That the cookie is BEST when it is just minutes out of the oven. It must be enjoyed freshly baked and just slightly warm. That I already knew. So when the article included a recipe for possibly the best chocolate chip cookies ever, of course I rushed straight into the kitchen to check it out and see for myself…

cookies3

The recipe, adapted from one used by Jacques Torres, calls for feves or chocolate disks, and unfortunately, I didn’t have any, but I did have a large chunk of 65+% Callebaut which I tried to cut into largish shards, but it was quite finely shredded instead. We had tasted Mr. Torres’ chocolate cookies at his New York shop, post here, and did enjoy them a lot. I followed the recipe to the letter, except for the feves, and even turned on the airconditioner in the kitchen to try and achieve a reasonable “room temperature” while mixing the dough. I then stuck the dough in the fridge for 24 hours before baking them into smaller than the suggested 5 inch cookies. The feves are critical because they melt flat and provide luscious bursts of melted chocolate in the cookie, but the shards worked surprisingly well and resulted in a wonderful looking cookie.

cookies4

The results? The best darned chocolate-ish chip cookie I have ever made. And they were incredibly good just out of the oven, as usual. The secret sprinkling of sea salt on the top of the cookie was more than just a chef’s trick, the salt sets one’s tongue up for the sweetness of the cookie and the richness of the chocolate. Brilliant. And all you have to do is click on the link up top to the NY Times article to give it a try. Everything the article describes, including the middle section of the cookie between the crisp edge and the “bulls-eye” center as being “where the magic exists… where the two textures and all the flavors mix” was spot on. Don’t you love it when that happens? :) My only complaint? The cookies I made got harder about a day after I made them, then they were as hard as store-bought ones by the third day. They were better if heated up slightly but not as good as freshly made. If you love chocolate chip cookies, you will love the recipe of the NY times, with feves or without.

6.DO

 

COMMENTS:

  1. fried-neurons says:

    I absolutely LOVE chocolate chip cookies that are fresh out of the oven. Unfortunately, I have neither the patience nor the skill to bake well. I can’t make a good baked-thingie to save my life.

    My coworker makes fantastic cookies, though. Once in a while a bunch of us will hang out at her home and she’ll bake some for us. She uses Scharffen Berger chocolates and “european style” butter (that’s what it says in the box even though the butter is made in the USA).

    My little trick for softening up a hardened choc-chip cookie is to stick it in the microwave for a few seconds. About 6 to 8 seconds for a plate of 3 cookies (if they are Chips Ahoy size) or a plate of 1 to 2 cookies (if they are Mrs. Fields size). To go with the cookies, a glass of ice-cold milk is a must!

    Jul 27, 2008 | 11:57 am

     
  2. Apicio says:

    I suspected just so as soon as I saw your poll. Here is the web link to the NYT article. Requires registration though it’s free. Out local large crystal table salt is great for this recipe.http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/cookies/recipes/index.html

    Jul 27, 2008 | 12:00 pm

     
  3. lee says:

    hahaha. choco lab’s yawn is priceless

    Jul 27, 2008 | 12:15 pm

     
  4. Rico says:

    So that’s why my wife makes the dough the night before. I just thought it would save her time. Interesting. Very interesting!
    Her cookies are so good that she’s actually selling them now at the office!

    Jul 27, 2008 | 12:54 pm

     
  5. divine g. says:

    Hello… I just want to say I love cookies that are kinda crunchy around the sides and very chewy as you bite into it. I have been trying cookies in the different pastry shops that I see around town and boy most of it are really very expensive. I can say that I miss some of the cookies that I have tasted in the Phils. they are very good.

    Jul 27, 2008 | 1:55 pm

     
  6. Tricia Noel says:

    I love your Lab!!! :)

    Jul 27, 2008 | 3:02 pm

     
  7. witsandnuts says:

    I’m one of the 51% in that poll. The day I responded to the poll I knew it has something to do with the cookies-related article in NY Times (read it online though). We’d try that recipe this christmas. =)

    Jul 27, 2008 | 4:37 pm

     
  8. Mandy says:

    in one of martha stewart’s shows, she did a who has the best chocolate chip cookie. one of them was jacque torres’–they all looked so good!!! i forgot who they finally chose; could be jacque. oh well. but your cookie looks really good!!

    i like it when they’re chewy, not crunchy. do you use an ice cream scooper to scoop them on the baking sheet? ayyy… i think i will be experimenting soon on chocolate chip cookies too. i just bought a bag of dark choc chips (ghirardelli–50% off in shopwise).

    Jul 27, 2008 | 6:17 pm

     
  9. jf says:

    We are pretty happy with nestle tollhouse cookies. Just cut up the ready-made dough and bake.Lots of flavors to choose from…with peanut butter, walnuts, semi-sweet chips,etc no hassle and delicious!

    Jul 27, 2008 | 6:23 pm

     
  10. Beth Loggins says:

    One of the ingredients that I think is crucial but left out is corn syrup.

    Jul 27, 2008 | 7:02 pm

     
  11. Beth Loggins says:

    Oh I forgot to add … cornstarch helps too in making the cookie soft and chewy

    Jul 27, 2008 | 7:04 pm

     
  12. siopao says:

    I have always believed that the absolute best chocolate chip cookie recipe is the original Toll House cookie recipe which Nestle prints at the back of the bag of their chocolate chips… They actually bought the rights to that recipe in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips.

    the tip about “resting” the dough is correct… another tip is to make the dough in small batches and mix it by hand without overmixing. overmixing would make for a tougher cookie as it develops the gluten in the dough.

    Jul 27, 2008 | 8:33 pm

     
  13. natie says:

    whoa!! ultimate food porn,MM!! those shots could make one gain weight..

    Jul 27, 2008 | 9:40 pm

     
  14. betty q. says:

    I have managed to ruin a loooot of ice creamm scoopers! My boys like the tiny cookies, so I have every imaginable size of ice cream scoopers. I saved my FAVORITE one by just letting the dough rest in the cooler for about 2 hours and then scoop them and arrange on silicone lined or wax paper lined cookie sheets. Once frozen I just stack them up one on top of the other in a rectangular plastic rubbermaid and FREEZE. My boys can just get some when they want to bake and have their cookie FIX after school. Yes, my sons DO KNOW HOW TO BAKE esp . the youngest one.

    Jul 28, 2008 | 5:19 am

     
  15. bagito says:

    Love the chocolate lab! As a doggie mom, how about more pics featuring the pooches, like this one? They certainly make good “props”, er, “extras”, I should say. :)

    I don’t have much of a sweet tooth (mine is more of a “salt” tooth) but I’ll make an exception of those cookies! I could just imagine biting into one, fresh from the oven. Mmm mmm mmm.

    Jul 28, 2008 | 11:56 am

     
  16. Queen B says:

    My whole family looooves chocolate chip cookies! It doesn’t matter if it comes directly from the oven or the cookie jar. I’ll try the recipe by Jacques Torres this week, using his technique as well. I haven’t tried chilling it first before baking, its usually mix then bake immediately for me. Thanks for sharing the article!

    Jul 28, 2008 | 1:29 pm

     
  17. AleXena says:

    This is what I have been waiting for since the poll about chocolate chip cookies was posted.=)

    The picture itself gives warmth. This will be best paired with a tall glass of full cream milk and I say full cream since this is a treat.

    Sure wish I was a baker though.=)

    Jul 28, 2008 | 3:00 pm

     
  18. NewYorker says:

    I made the dough last evening, and am 12 hours into the “chilling” period. I can’t wait to get home to bake a batch.

    One thing I found unusual about the NY Times recipe was that it called for cake flour AND bread flour. Most cookie recipes I’ve seen use APF, so does using cake and bread flour really make a difference?

    And speaking of flour, what do folks think of King Arthur Flour?

    Jul 28, 2008 | 10:52 pm

     
  19. betty q. says:

    Hello New Yorker…In my appprenticeship days (waaaaay back when!!), bread flour and cake or pastry flour is commonly used in industrial bakeries…bread flour for the breads, rolls, croissants, danishes, etc…pastry flour or cake flour for genoise and angel food cakes…Now, I am assuming that is what Monsieur Torres uses (bakery owner/pastry chefextraordinaire)….cost effective while maintaining the quality of the cookie! All purpose flour is hard wheat (bread flour) and soft wheat (cake flour)added. If you would look at the proportion of the cake flour to the bread flour is in his recipe, it is amounts to nearly 1:1…Sorry, can’t give you an opinion on King Arthur flour….only have Robin Hood, 5 Roses, and something else in grocery stores. ..But wholesalers might have it though…will ask some of the sales reps I used to know.

    Jul 29, 2008 | 2:16 am

     
  20. madspartan says:

    Hey, MM — a daily lurker here. I remember having come across those valrhona feves (the oval ones) at cooks’ exchange in powerplant mall. I bought a few 100g. bags just because they were unusual (this was maybe a year ago). I stuck them in the middle of cupcake batter (when I first started to experiment with cupcakes) — and it was rather insane — a giant chocolate kick in the head when you bite into it (it stays gooey even after the cupcakes have cooled) — imagine those shards in a cookie, then! I’d be drunk after just one!

    Oh — and as for the cookies getting hard after a day — I stick a slice or two of plain ol’ sandwich bread with the cookies in an airtight container and they stay fresh for quite a bit.

    Jul 29, 2008 | 6:38 am

     
  21. madspartan says:

    Oh, and for those of you who’ve ruined many an ice cream scoop (i have 11 size 26’s — the perfect size, in my opinion — only 2 of which are serviceable now), I’ve found that plastic measuring spoons (glossy on the inside) can be wonderful too. I use the half-tablespoon ones for baby cookies — i let the dough thaw a bit and even it out with a small, off-set spatula. Just nudge the dough out with the spatula tip and it slides right off — no need to grease the spoon!

    Jul 29, 2008 | 6:44 am

     
  22. sister says:

    If using blocks of chocolate wait until the block comes to room temp. before attempting to cut it into chunks, cold chocolate will only cut into shards. There are other 65-70 % bars on the market that are thinner and easy to dice. You might try scooping out the dough right after mixing, line up closely on a cookie sheet lined in parchment, cover, and refrigerate overnight. You can make a second layer of scooped dough on top to save on space. Cover with foil or cling film to avoid off odors in your fridge. Preheat oven and pick up the balls of dough and position 4 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet, press down to 1/2 inch thickness. Bake. It is easier on the scoop to portion out the dough while it is still at room temp. before chilling.

    Jul 29, 2008 | 9:58 am

     
  23. Blaise says:

    COMFORT FOOD! =)

    Jul 29, 2008 | 8:27 pm

     
  24. NewYorker says:

    betty q – Thanks for the explanation!

    Jul 29, 2008 | 10:07 pm

     
  25. SimplePleasure says:

    Hi Marketman!

    I’ve just made a batch of this recipe last night and can’t wait to bake them off! I found chocolate disks at COOKS EXCHANGE at an affordable price, though I’m not sure what brand it is(I asked, they told me & I forgot! hehehe figures!), it’s quicky melting and bittersweet, I nibbled on one disk last night before incorporating in the mixture.

    I’m so excited…WOOHOO

    Jul 31, 2008 | 9:43 am

     
  26. mojito_drinker says:

    hi MM – i just tried this recipe last weekend. i’m not normally a fan of regular chocolate chip cookies because they tend to melt in this weather. this one was gooood! i’ve gotten rave reviews from non-chocoholics… thanks!!!

    Sep 1, 2008 | 5:00 pm

     
  27. poligals says:

    Pictures look oh soo yummy!! where can i find the recipe for this?

    Oct 30, 2008 | 10:54 pm

     
 

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