Blog Kick-off with the Chocolate Chip Cookie

July 6th, 2009  |  17 Comments

chocolate_chip_cookie_final

No, my grandmother didn’t stand over a hot pot, lovingly stirring away as I clutched her apron. No aunt pulling a perfectly risen almond torte out of the oven. The family weren’t the most accomplished cooks, mostly serving up something quick and easy, like canned soup or scrambled eggs on a typical weeknight. Cooking in my house was considered a chore, something to get over with as quickly as possible.

So to this day I wonder how I became such a food nutter.

Having lived in the former USSR until the tender age of seven, a country that boasted nothing more than potatoes, farmer cheese and bread, I remember many firsts with food when we made it to the good ol’ US—things that can be easily taken for granted. There was the shocking, indescribable taste of my first banana, with its strange shape and smooth texture. My first slice of pizza, which, believe it or not, was an acquired taste, a culture shock of sorts, as there was nothing remotely like that in the old country. Then there was cereal. What an odd notion that everyone poured milk over something called “cornflakes”? (What?! You purposefully sog up a bready product?). And ah, gorgeous peanut butter, so shockingly good that I would get back on the grade-school lunch line for another fix. Trying all this stuff was thrilling, and made me realize: I’ll eat anything!

My love of cooking was obviously born out of my love of eating. How else can you get excited about cooking unless you’re equally excited about getting to eat the result? All things food-related, whether going out to for a burger, unfurling a white napkin at the local tablecloth, or sniffing the butt of a pineapple for ripeness were a new opportunity to have a culinary good time. A bad meal was like a missed opportunity, eating time to be never be gotten back and I cursed anyone that cheated me with a subpar offering.

choc_chip_on_plate

When I moved to New York and started making my way around the fine dining galaxy, what I quickly discovered was, these people were operating on a whole different plane. I thought I knew food, but I didn’t know food. These chefs were coaxing flavors out that didn’t seem possible. Even a tomato didn’t know how good a tomato could be until it got its proper handling by some starred chef. This was all a revelation to me and I wanted in on the action. Lured by the romantic notions of being a chef, I quit my job and got into the restaurant business, making my way around some of the best places in NY. And because of my raging sweet tooth, I thought it best to elbow toward the pastry station. This went on for a raucus eight years, where I misbehaved in the style of Anthony Bourdain, and soaked up pastry knowledge like a ladyfinger thrown in espresso.

People tend to ask me what my specialty is, and honestly, I don’t have one. I love and make so many types of desserts, that I can’t seem to settle on any one thing. But I do still rattle off a couple of items just to keep the conversation going: “Oh, I make a good crème brulee, cheesecake, chocolate cake…” Then they look at me in a sort of whistful way, dreaming in their mind’s eye of taking a bite, wishing they could make it themselves. They tell me how good they are at cooking, but how they just can’t get the baking thing right, try as they might. They’ve intimidated themselves right out of it yet I know they can do it. Here’s where I say: People! Baking is easy. All it requires is patience and following directions. And just the act of getting in the kitchen and making stuff will go a long way toward developing a baking comfort level.

Here’s where this blog comes in. I hope to get you near the oven, with the guidance of detailed recipe directions, all shown in step-by-step pictures. After my years as a pastry chef, I’ve learned from many of my own screw ups and the screw ups of others, and will steer you away from making them too. Foolproof, I hope. If you already know baking, then I hope you simply enjoy the recipes.

To get this baking party started, I’m going with a universal favorite: the chocolate chip cookie. When I worked in a hotel restaurant, we used to send a plate of these up to a guest’s room if they came with little kids. I’d always have to bake off extras because the other cooks would swipe too many off the cooling rack.

These have a slightly caramelized, crisp edge, and some gooey chew in the center and that’s how I like ‘em. I realize people can get fanatical about their chocolate chip, what with the “crispy” camp carrying bats on one side and the “chewy” camp swinging chains on the other. But let’s face it. Would YOU resist a chocolate chip no matter what its pedigree? Me neither.

So Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen
Recipe can be doubled

2 sticks + 2 T (9 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup + 1 T (6 oz) granulated sugar

3/4 cup + 1 T (6 oz) light brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract (for the love of all things holy, please use pure extract, not imitation!)

3 cups (13 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pea-sized bits

 

1. Ingredients, so grand!

choc_chip_mise

2. Make sure your butter is softened. Butter softens up faster when cut in pieces. At the right consistency, you can easily make an indentation with your finger.

choc_chip_butter

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy, like this.

choc_chip_butter_sugar_2

Scrape down the sides for better incorporation.

choc_chip_butter_sugar_1

4. Add eggs one at a time.  Be sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding another egg.

choc_chip_egg

Mixture will look wet and curdled (sounds appetizing). Scrape, scrape, scrape the sides, as butter wants to collect on the bottom.

choc_chip_egg_mixed

5. Stir together the flour, salt and baking soda.

choc_chip_dry

6. Add to the mixing bowl, and mix on the slowest setting, or flour will explode all over you. I hope you’re not wearing black.

choc_chip_add_dry

Do not mix longer than necessary or your cookies will end up tough. As soon as the dry ingredients disappear into the dough, you’re done.

choc_chip_dry_part_mix

choc_chip_dry_mixed

7. Stir in chips. My favorite part.

choc_chip_add_chips

8. On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop heaping tablespoons spaced 2” apart. (They will spread considerably)

choc_chip_dollop

9. And pop ‘em in the preheated oven (375 degrees F) for about 12 minutes. When the edges turn golden, they are ready. Don’t mind the very soft centers. They will firm up as they cool.

choc_chip_pop_in_oven

Turn the sheet tray around half way through baking to ensure even browning. (Yes, my crazy ass is trying to flip a nuclear hot tray AND one-handedly take a picture at the same time)

choc_chip_oven_flip

10. Behold your cookies.

choc_chip_baked

 

To Freeze and Bake Later

Dough will be quite soft right out of the mixer, so it needs to firm up in the fridge before it can be rolled. Unload the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight is ok.

choc_chip_dough_on_sheet

 

Don’t run off screaming. That’s just a rolled up log of cookie dough. About 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle a little flour if necessary to keep it from sticking to everything. Wrap in plastic and freeze for up to 2 months.

choc_chip_log

When you’ve got a jones for freshly baked cook-ays, preheat oven, slice a few rounds off the log, and bake as described above. Instant gratification.

choc_chip_slices

 

 

 

 

Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen
Recipe can be doubled
 

 

2 sticks + 2 T (9 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup + 1 T (6 oz) granulated sugar

3/4 cup + 1 T (6 oz) light brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract (for the love of all things holy, please use pure extract, not imitation!)

3 cups (13 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pea-sized bits

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
2. Add eggs one at a time. Be sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding another egg. Mixture will look soupy and curdled and that’s ok.
3. Stir together the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the butter mixture. Do not mix longer than necessary or your cookies will end up tough. As soon as the dry ingredients disappear into the dough, you’re done.
4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop heaping tablespoons spaced 2” apart. (They will spread considerably.)
6. Pop ‘em in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes. When the edges turn golden, they are ready. Don’t mind the very soft centers. They will firm up as they cool.






17 Responses to “Blog Kick-off with the Chocolate Chip Cookie”

  1. Tom O' says:

    You are wicked, sending me a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I can’t have them, kidney stones, But your photos are great, maybe a food photog niche for you also. Really everything looks great, especially the commentary, Chef Ruse.

    O’

  2. Memoria says:

    Your cookies look so different from what most CCCs look like, yet it contains all/most of the common ingredients. Interesting. I may have to try this recipe. Thanks for the detailed photos!!

  3. Niki says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!!! I love blogging, I started almost a year ago as part of a class assignment and it’s fun, especially following other people’s blogs and sharing new ideas, recipes and advice!

    I have been searching for a chocolate chip recipe that I can deem as “the best” for a while now. I have my own (old) recipe that is very similar to yours, except the extra cup of flour. I double the original recipe that my mom used to use where I use about 4 1/2 cups b/c if I use more, the cookies taste flour-y. But if I don’t use more, they are a bit flat.
    I’m anxious to try these though. Hopefully I won’t have to keep searching!

  4. PastryPal says:

    Niki-So glad you landed here on my blog! Hopefully I can convert you with these cookies.

  5. Why not start and finish with chocolate chip cookies? I’m speaking strictly about my meal planning, of course. They are such a perfect food. Crisp, chewy, round, great with cold milk, even better with ice cream wedged between two. Oh, there are infinite ways to eat a chocolate chip cookie, but yours look perfect as it. And I truly enjoyed your brief history of you leading up to the recipe. What a life you’ve had! (My family has the same view on cooking and baking…a chore to be dealt with rather than a joy in which to immerse. Fortunately, I have the gene or whatever it might be to truly appreciate both the process and the result.)

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

    Best,
    Casey
    Editor
    http://www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

  6. PastryPal says:

    Niki–Yeah!!!! I’m so excited you made the recipe! You’re the first person to make something from this site, so thanks, I’m honored.

  7. Ivy says:

    Welcome to the blogging world. Your cookies look delicious and if I weren’t on a diet I would make them right now. Beautiful blog design and great step by step pictures.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Seriously, those cookies look delish. After I consume the last batch that I made for my own blog. I will have to make these. You know what the sick thing is? All I could think about in those pictures was how clean your oven is! Holy S! Come clean mine please????

    :)

  9. Mrs Ergül says:

    I have been sticking to the NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies for a few months now. But I will gladly give yours a try!

  10. Diana says:

    Thank you! I’ve made a couple of recipes from you blog and they’ve all turned out with great success.

    I don’t know why I never thought about freezing my own cookie dough (I make my crackers that way). I love having home made cookies, but hate having a bunch of yummy cookies laying about the house. There is also the added bonus of getting a warm fresh cookie rather then a day old cookie.

    In one of your up-coming blogs can you write about pie crust?

  11. Julie says:

    Up until now, the countless batches of cookies I have made at recipe.com did not turn out too well. ):

    Little by little, I am getting closer to finding the best chocolate chip recipe and am finding that the key to making a good cookie is in the ingredients.

    I am going to try out your recipe and let you know how it turned out and if it is…..the best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

  12. Michelle says:

    My fiance’ is forever indebted to you for this pictured recipe blog. Over the past few months, I have mastered the souffle’, triumphed over creme brulee’ and custards, and even pleasured with various puff pastry creations but never seemed to make a good chocolate chip cookie. Mine were either too “shortbready”, too thin, or just average and not being a big cookie fan myself, I left it at that. However, since my fiance is quite the opposite, I thought that this blog had laid out a fool-proof recipe with tips I had not tried before for whatever reason (allowing eggs to come to room temp, rotating while cooking, being aware of over-mixing).

    Wahlah, I did it! I made my best to date chocolate chip cookie because of you. I have a feeling that they will become a staple during medical school and well after… hopefully I can keep my baking and studying in balance ;). Again, thanks so much and keep up the blog ( I have also tried the individual apricot tartes using peaches and those were simple yet elegant!)

  13. Novice Chef says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE chocolate chip cookies and I’ll definitely be making up a batch using your detailed ingredients! Out of curiousity and my attempts at being kinda health conscience nowadays, is it possible to substitute all-purpose flour for almond flour? I’m thinking the nuttier taste, plus premium chocolate chips, you just can’t go wrong, right?! :-)

  14. PastryPal says:

    Novice Chef — Since almond flour is not really flour, but just ground almonds, it won’t behave the same way as all-purpose flour in the recipe. You can try making the substitution, but it will be a very different item, though perhaps still delicious! I’d suggest starting with substituting half the flour and see how that goes. Let us know what happens :).

  15. Jess says:

    I don’t know why, but everytime I make cookies, they always puff up. I have never made cookies that flatten out like the ones in your picture. I was hoping that your recipe would work, but it still ended up like that even though I followed all the measurements exactly. They taste great, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t mind making cookies that look like cookies. Do you have any advice?

  16. Dinorah Jaime says:

    Hello I would love to make these cookies, I don’t have access to light brown sugar could I put instead 6oz. brown sugar or 12oz. white regular sugar?

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