Monday, March 4, 2013

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies [A Review]

Let me start by saying that I am probably late in the game in choosing to blog about this recipe. However, I chose to make these cookies and blog about them in order to share with you why this recipe works. Many people look at this recipe and think one of two things (or maybe, like me, both):

1) The beauty of chocolate chip cookies is that they are quick. Unlike a cheesecake or a cupcakes, there isn't any waiting on them. A recipe that requires 24 hours of chilling is NOT for me. Can't I just skip the wait and bake them immediately? -or-
2) Why does it call for both cake flour and bread flour? Can't I just substitute all-purpose flour?

The answer to both of those questions is "no." And I promise that I give you this answer after I tried three different batches of these cookies: One batch made exactly as the recipe says; one batch made with all the ingredients called for but skipping the chill time; and one batch substituting all purpose flour for the cake flour.

The results of our test testing.
The best were the ones where the recipe was followed exactly. They were the chewiest and had the most tender crumb. Second best were the ones where we skipped chilling the dough for 24 hours. These were slightly less chewy than the chilled version but still had a tender crumb. And the least good (but still quite tasty) were the cookies from the batch where we substituted all-purpose flour. These cookies were similarly chewy to the unchilled batch but (ironically) were cakier than those made with cake flour.

So here's the "science" behind it:

Why Bread Flour?: Bread flour is much higher in gluten content than all-purpose flour (around 12%). It is this high gluten content that helps makes bread chewy.

Why Wait 24 Hours?: Chilling the dough gives the gluten time to develop a more complex structure, making them even chewier.

Why Cake Flour?: Cake flour is the exact opposite of bread flour in that is has the lowest percentage of gluten of any of the flours (around 6%). It is this low gluten content that makes cakes have a light, tender crumb.

I had the pleasure of making these cookies with my dear friend, Catherine. She came down from New York for a wedding shower and fit in a visit to Winston-Salem so that she could meet Audrey. She seemed really enjoy her time playing with and cooing at the baby; she must have professed her love for Audrey at least a dozen times! And then while Audrey slept, we made two different batches of cookies (the unchilled + the all-purpose flour batches) and reviewed them. I can't express how wonderful it was to see her and how much I wish that we lived closer to one another. I couldn't help but include some photos of Catherine + Audrey in addition to the cookies.

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

In a large electric mixing bowl, combine:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/8 cups sugar

Cream together on high for 4-5 minutes.

One at a time, add:
2 eggs
Scrape down sides of bowl after each addition.

Mix in:
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Scrape down sides of bowl.

In a separate medium bowl, sift together:
1 7/8 cup cake flour (this is the same as 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons of cake flour)
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

In three batches, mix into wet ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

Mix in:
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate

Pour batter onto large piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24+ hours.

Preheat oven 350

Spoon large balls of dough onto greased cookie. Use hands to form balls of dough.

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. [Don't be afraid of the salt; it is delicious.]

Bake 15-20 minutes until centers are just set. Do not overcook.

Let cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes (they'll fall apart if you try to remove them too soon). Transfer to wire cooling rack. Either let them cool completely and store in an airtight container, or - and this is the better option -

Eat up immediately!

Batch #2

Batch #3

All together now.

Smiles all around.

Crazy hair + elbow dimples.

Baby bliss.
Baby bum.

Fighting a nap.
This was a gift from Catherine + her mom, Pam. Pam MADE this entire doll!! I love it.

Love II.

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