CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FROM NATURALLY SWEET

Does the universe need another recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies?  

Let me think about that for a second….

The answer is obviously YES!

A few months ago I ordered the book Naturally Sweet from America’s Test Kitchen. “Bake all your classics with 30 to 50% less sugar.”  I do trust them to develop recipes that do not lack in taste. They definitely test all variables tirelessly, and I’ve never had a bad outcome. Yes, sometimes every single pot and pan in the kitchen gets dirty, but… if you don’t mind doing dishes – I definitely do not – it’s not that big a deal.   My first adventure with the book, a real American classic: chocolate chip cookies. And no, you won’t dirty a ton of dishes. Surprisingly enough, it is a one-bowl adventure.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE

Butter is creamed with sucanat, a type of sugar that I mentioned recently in my In My Kitchen post. As you open the bag, the smell is enough to make you dream. Think brown sugar with benefits. The texture is different from any other sugar I’ve played with. Coarse, a bit harsh-looking. It will not cream the same way white or brown sugar will, it offers a bit more resistance to the blade of the mixer. Do not worry about it, just keep beating for 3 minutes or so.

One egg and one egg yolk are added, then the other regular suspects, flour, leavening agents, vanilla, and finally Ghirardelli 60% cocoa in pieces, not too small, you need to go for those assertive pieces as you bite into these babies.

America’s Test Kitchen is quite reluctant to give permission to share recipes online, and I gave up on that waiting game.  If you don’t have the book, the recipe is available online here.  By the way, Sally’s site is a must-visit, and her cookbooks great too.

 

Comments: I really like these cookies. Phil defined them pretty well:

They have this texture that at first you think it’s crunchy, then you think it’s chewy,
and then you realize it’s in a perfect spot in between…

Got it?  Well, I think the cookies will please both camps, although I am partial to the Chewy Cheerleading Team. The sucanat gives a very nice sweetness, reminding me of some cookies that call for brown butter to be incorporated in the dough. That type of added complexity.  It makes about 16 cookies (I actually managed to get 17).  I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and make them smaller, they will have the perfect texture baked exactly as ATK suggests. Indeed, those guys test their formulas. Extensively. And we all profit from their work. I took them to the department and was considering grabbing one mid-morning, but found the empty platter staring at me. It was 9:48am. That is the sign of a good batch of cookies.

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SECRET RECIPE CLUB: TAILGATING PARTY!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will probably be a bit surprised to see another Secret Recipe Club feature just one week after the last one.  Here’s the reason: some months have five Mondays, but there are only four groups of blogs (A through D) in the club. So in some months a Monday would be empty of virtual fun, and that is sad.  The moderators then had this brilliant idea of coming up with a special theme for these extra Mondays in which all groups participate. Since football season is starting, the theme for today’s Reveal Day is “Tailgating“. Now, I must say I’m not too wild about tailgating, probably because I did not grow up in the US. But, nothing makes me miss a party, and I loved coming up with a recipe appropriate for the occasion. I was assigned the blog Dancing Veggies, hosted by Amanda, a member of Group A. One of the things I got a kick out of stalking her blog is the way she chooses pretty creative, unexpected names for her posts.  For instance, what do you think a post called “Heart Racing” would be about? A bowl of chili? a hot Indian curry?  Nah. It’s about Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies!  🙂 How about a post called “Meet me at Midnight?” Caviar on toast and a shot of vodka?  A platter of oysters on the half shell?  No, not really. That one is about German Chocolate Brownies…  For this tailgating event, my contribution is a plate of cookies, and since Fall is knocking at the door (stiff upper lip ON), my cookies include the P word. Talk about someone who dances with the music… that’s me, baby, all the way! And speaking of dancing to the music, Amanda just explained to me the meaning behind her posts titles: they are all song titles, the “dancing” part of her blog, Dancing Veggies.  Too awesome for words!

Pumpkin Choc Chip Cookies2

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(slightly modified from Dancing Veggies)

makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
1 + 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 cup mini dark choc chips
1/4 to 1/2 cup white choc chips

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Cream the butter and sugar for 5 minutes, until slightly fluffy. Add in the egg, salt, and vanilla extract and beat for a few more minutes before adding in the mashed pumpkin.

In a small bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Slowly add to the wet ingredients and beat until just mixed. Spoon the dough onto cookie sheets in walnut sized portions. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a golden orange shade. Cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  My main modification of the recipe was to use a mixture of white and dark chocolate chips. I am very fond of white chocolate and had just a little bit left in a bag, so I decided to put them to good use.  I left the amounts pretty flexible in the recipe, because Phil loves a cookie that is loaded with chips, so see how much your dough can take and go for maximal pleasure.  I think dried cranberries would work great too, by the way. The texture of the cookies is on the chewy side due to the pumpkin puree, which by the way, I used canned.  As usual, no one will be able to taste the pumpkin, it just gives them a mysterious flavor.  The nutmeg and cinnamon of course complement it all beautifully.  A perfect Fall cookie (stiff upper lip threatening to fail).

have a cookie

You cannot have summer back, but you can always have a cookie!

Amanda, I had a lot of fun browsing your collection of recipes, in fact your zucchini fritters were insistently calling my name, but I thought that maybe those would be hard to enjoy at tailgating with the dipping sauce and all. So I stuck with cookies, easy to grab and run away to the stadium not to miss the kick-off. As usual, everyone can check the collection of tailgating recipes by poking the cute blue frog at the end of the post.

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FAB CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These cookies were originally called “Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.” If that’s not a mouthful of a name, I don’t know what is…  But doesn’t it sound great? Flourless immediately conveys a soft, melt in your mouth fudgy texture. Almond butter is the grown-up, classy version of peanut butter. Once you add chocolate chips, oats, and a touch of coconut (omitted from the already long name), you can stop searching for the perfect cookie to start the day. Or as a mid-morning snack…

The recipe comes from Zainab’s blog, Blahnik Baker. Zainab is a food blogger who is working hard to finish her PhD in neuroscience. I remember those days (the PhD days, not the neuroscience); they are bittersweet like the best piece of chocolate. Part of you is thrilled by the vision of the finish line approaching, but getting there is never easy. Always harder than you anticipate.  I don’t know a single PhD candidate who at the time of the defense said “I started writing my thesis early enough, it all went smoothly”.  Nope, never. But, one way or another, we all seem to get there, and at some point forget the pain, enjoy the thrill.

Choc Chip Cookies1

FAB CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(from Blahnik Baker)

⅔ cup old-fashioned rolled
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅓ cup coconut flakes
1 cup almond butter (I used coconut almond butter)
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅔ cup dark chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and coconut flakes

In another medium bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix the almond butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce speed to low and add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined (do not over mix). Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop 2 tablespoon rounds of dough onto the prepared sheets.

Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

CookieDough
I did not grow up eating cookies, they were not part of my family tradition. However, since moving to the US, I developed intense fondness for cookies with rolled oats.  A common American practice is to dunk cookies in milk, but I find that hard to watch. It actually makes me a little queasy, much to the amusement of one of my stepsons, who loved to tease me about it. But, the truth is that even with my anti-American stance on the dunking of a cookie, I suppose that this one would be perfect for such objectionable act.

Cookie Balls

We loved these cookies! If you don’t have coconut almond butter, use the plain type, but don’t omit the coconut flakes, they contribute a nice texture and that tropical flavor that makes these babies special and unique.

cooling

Zainab, thanks for the recipe, and good luck in this final stretch of your research, have a batch of cookies nearby, they do give a lot of energy and will make writing a tad easier. Wishful thinking?

😉

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BEST THING I EVER MADE: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

If you don’t watch FoodTV Network, you may think this is my own statement. Not the case. Best Thing I Ever Made is one of the shows I continue to tape, hoping that at some point they will air new episodes. Unfortunately,  not much luck in the past year or so.  What I love about it is that they ask chefs to share their recipes for the best thing they ever made in a certain category, like Family Recipes, Crowd Pleasers, Cheese, or this particular episode, Sweet Endings.  I didn’t know Elizabeth Falkner, but was immediately smitten by her smile, energy and aura. Instead of a super complicated recipe that required you to find beet sugar smoked on the hills of Himalaya, hers was one of the simplest formulas ever.  It’s a lot more about technique than anything else.

IMG_5145

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES STRAIGHT UP OR WITH NUTS
(recipe from Elizabeth Falkner)
.
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, softened but still cool
3/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg (1 1/2 ounces by weight)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts, optional
.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and brown and granulated sugars until smooth but not over mixed. (I do this by hand, but if you use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl before continuing.) Add the egg, vanilla and salt and stir just until combined.
.
Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently just until combined. Add the chocolate and nuts if using and stir just until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
.
Position the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
.
Scoop up 1-inch balls of the dough with a spoon or mini scoop and set them 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake the cookies, rotating the pans after 7 to 9 minutes, for 13 to 17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. If you like a very soft cookie, bake them for 13 minutes. If you like a crisp cookie, bake them for 17 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here.composite


Comments
: I always make cookie dough using my Kitchen Aid mixer, but watching Elizabeth mix hers by hand using just a fork seemed like so much fun, I gave it a try.  It was not as hard as I anticipated, and made it easier to judge when the butter and the sugar were properly mixed together.  Two things are important in this recipe: cutting the chocolate in uneven sizes, and refrigerating the dough, the longer the better, overnight is perfect.  The larger chunks of chocolate will melt in your mouth in a way that no chocolate chip will do. Of course, use the best chocolate you can find and afford.

I made the cookie dough after dinner, left it in the fridge until lunch time next morning, baked the cookies and took them to our department still warm from the oven.  They were inhaled quite quickly, which I think is a nice compliment to Ms. Faulkner…   😉

ChiefCookies
Flour, sugar, egg & butter: $5.00

Trader Joe’s Bittersweet Chocolate: $6.50

Unexpectedly including your dog in a food blog shot: PRICELESS…

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ALMOND BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

I am not very fond of peanut butter.  Its sticky, gooey nature manages to turn me off. I like to cook savory dishes with it, but I shy away from desserts that call for it as an ingredient.  Until now, I had placed almond butter in the same category. But, truth be told, I never bothered to try it.   Then,  I read Lynda’s post about Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  A quote about this nut spread made me re-evaluate my position. Here’s what she had to say about it:

It’s not as pronounced in flavor as peanut butter which can overwhelm a cookie. Almond butter is mellower with notes of deeply roasted nuts, adding a subtle, golden background to the dough.

It was worth a try…   😉

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ALMOND BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(from Taste Food)

makes 36 cookies

1 + 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted creamy almond butter (not raw)
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside. Cream the butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer for a couple of minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. Mix in the almond butter until smooth. Add the flour and mix to combine, then stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate the batter for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 350 F. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until light golden, about 14 minutes.

Optional: Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt on the cookies before baking.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I am so glad I did not allow prejudice to prevent me from trying this recipe!  Lynda was absolutely right, the almond butter gives these cookies a very unique flavor.  You won’t quite know what it is, they just taste rich and intense.  I omitted the sprinkle of salt on top.  However, I think the flavor of the salt added to the dough  was assertive enough for us.   Now, for the best part…  I fell in love with almond butter!   It is creamier, has a much more pleasant texture and mouth feel. All of a sudden, a new favorite concoction in my life: Toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread + Almond butter +  Banana Slices.  It has it all, the crunch of the bread, the sweetness of the fruit, and the rich almond butter to tie them together…

cooling

Lynda, once again your blog pointed me in a tasty direction!  Thank you!

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JACQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Disclaimer: I am not a food snob.  A person who is not ashamed of confessing her love for Velveeta, and a weakness for Ramen instant noodles, cannot possibly qualify as a food snob.  However, I must say that unless you get a bag of Jacques’ chocolate disks (or, for added charm call them “fèves” like the French do), don’t bother making these cookies.  Regular chocolate chips, or even the best possible quality chocolate cut in pieces simply won’t do the job.  Food snob?  Who, moi?  😉

JACQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(by Jacques Torres, published at The New York Times)

Heads up:
Dough must be prepared 24 to 72 hours before baking the cookies!

1 + 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup  + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 + 1/4 cup  brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 +  1/4  teaspoon baking soda
1 + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 + 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups (minus 2 Tablespoons) cake flour
1 + 2/3 cup bread flour
1 pound bittersweet chocolate discs ( fèves)

Cream the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder, and salt across the mixture, distributing them as evenly as possible, and them into the dough. Add the flours and mix gently until just combined. Carefully stir in the chocolate disks, avoid breaking them into pieces, they must stay as intact as possible.  Scrape down the dough neatly down into the mixing bowl and press a plastic wrap directly onto it. Refrigerate the dough for 24  to 72 hours.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop the dough into balls just between the size of golf and tennis balls, adjusting any protruding chocolate discs so that they are horizontal in orientation. Bake them until they are pale golden brown, about 20 minutes.  You can also make smaller balls of dough and bake them for a shorter time.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I had so much fun making these cookies!  First, they gave me the perfect opportunity to put to use a special gift from one of our graduate students (as I mentioned here).   Second, the fact that the dough must  be prepared in advance makes it a lot easier to bake them and bring them still warm to the lab, which was my main intention.   I made them smaller than the recipe calls for, so they baked a little faster.
I also saved two cookie balls in the freezer, and surprised Phil on a Sunday morning with freshly baked cookies to go along with his cappuccino.  I got some brownie points that weekend.  Or, maybe they were cookie points?  😉
These are now my favorite choc chip cookies!  They are deliciously messy to eat, as each disk melts in your  mouth, giving off an intense chocolate flavor,  absolutely decadent!  I would not add nuts to these cookies, by the way.  No distractions from the path to bliss. Only chocolate.

If you are in New York, visit Jacques Torres store and grab a bag  or two of these disks. If you are not in the Big Apple, order them online by clicking here. They are perfect for baking, but also great for that late night chocolate craving.  A couple of  “feves”, and you are all set!

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BROWN BUTTER MAGIC

I got to know  “Beautiful Disasters” through The Secret Recipe Club, when Casey,  a very fit and active high school student, made a recipe from my blog.  She hit the jackpot: her post was the most popular of our group!   I always look forward to her articles, not only for the recipes, but for the “Random fact of the day“.  Did you know that the average shoe size of a gorilla is 17?  Well, I didn’t, but learned on her site.  😉

Recently Casey wrote this enticing post about her favorite chocolate chip cookie, and the description and photos got my immediate attention.   At first glance, the recipe seems pretty straightforward, using the usual suspects for this traditional American favorite: butter, sugar, baking soda, walnuts, and chocolate chips.  But, what sets it apart is the browning of the butter, and the toasting & grinding of the walnuts.  Brown butter. Ground walnuts. Who would imagine they could make a simple cookie so decadent and delicious?
BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(from Beautiful Disasters)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1  + 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 +  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  + 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cups walnuts, toasted and ground
1-2 teaspoons of milk, as needed

The day before (or at least 3 hours before making the cookies), heat the butter over low heat in a small saucepan.  It will foam and bubble, slowly acquiring a tan color.  Keep stirring, watch it carefully so that the solids won’t burn.  Cook until the butter is a deep caramel color (it took me over 12 minutes).  Pour into a pyrex type dish, and refrigerate until  solid.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees F, and toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 12 minutes, or until fragrant and starting to get some color.  Transfer to a small food processor and turn it on and off a few times, to grind the nuts.  Reserve.   (You can also finely chop them by hand, but it’s a bit cumbersome).

Cut the brown butter in small cubes, place it in the bowl of an electric mixer, and cream it with both sugars.   Beat in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Add the flour and salt, mixing gently.  Finally add the ground i nuts and chocolate chips. If the dough is too crumbly, add a couple of teaspoons of milk.

Scoop the dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and bake in a 300 F oven for 18 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

These are some amazing cookies!  Hot from the oven, they were simply irresistible…  I had THREE cookies.  Now, keep in mind that when I make a batch of cookies I eat one, and  that is pretty much it for me.  I had three.  One, then another.  And then another. (sigh)

My moment of pure joy, on a Sunday afternoon…

A cup of steaming spiced almond milk….  (for recipe, click here)

With bites of insanely good chocolate chip cookies…

Thank you, Casey!  

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