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The Baker's Quest-Part 3

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast. Last time we left Dana, she had just completed the bread baking section of her Baker's Quest. She had successfully made bread from scratch. She had passed this section of her quest, which was good because she miserably failed at the cupcake section...

This week I was met with a somewhat different challenge: Cookies. I know, I know, cookies aren't nearly as difficult as bread or cupcakes, and I technically already made them during the Night of the Ninjas. Cookies are a quintessential part of the baking world, though, and I really, really, REALLY like them. So what kind of cookies did I go with? Chocolate chip, of course! What other kind is there? :-)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Courtesy Alton Brown

8 oz unsalted butter
12 oz bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 oz granulated sugar
8 oz light brown sugar
1 lg egg
1 lg egg yolk
1 oz whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to "stir" and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375° F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.

I have liked Alton Brown for a long, long time, though, I think he's a bit persnickety about some things and so I don't always follow his directions to the letter. I would have here, but I did run out of a few things and so had to improvise a bit...

The first improvisation came when I ran out of butter. Really?! I usually have loads on hand, but I guess my groceries got away from me this week. That being the case, I had to bring in...margarine. I don't like cooking with margarine; I prefer butter, but I had no choice. It's kind of like the difference between questing with a wooden sword and a real sword.

I don't know what it is, but there's something I really love about seeing ingredients come together in my mixer. The sugar and the butter here got all creamy and amazing looking, kind of like caramel.

I will definitely give Alton Brown cleverness-points for his paper plate trick. Not strictly necessary, of course, but makes adding the flour mixture a bit easier. I could make another geeky fantasy-quest comparison here, but I won't. :-)

Aw, yeah, now it looks like proper cookie dough. I like big cookies, so I used a tablespoon to dish out big globs of dough onto my baking sheets.

Now just a little time in the oven and we're ready to go. Sooooo excited!

And I had good reason to be. These cookies were AWESOME! The 15 minutes was a little too long for my taste (I like my chocolate chip cookies almost still raw in the middle), but they baked up really nice and tasted great. And there was dough left over! So I wrapped it up in plastic and stuck it in the fridge for another Sunday. My friends have already requested that I make a batch for our Sunday night get-together. This is the easiest, best cookie recipe ever, and it's so easy your kids can help. Fun for the whole family!

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