Friday, May 11, 2012

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies


 A perfect chocolate chip cookie is irresistible to me. My Uncle Richard used to receive a couple of dozen from my mom every year at Christmas time. He would eat one right after another, until they were gone, and then lament that his belly ached. But, I understand completely. The slightly crisp exterior, soft and chewy interior, bits of chocolate of just the right size and shape... perfection.

Nestle Toll House Morsels has a recipe on their bag that I've used (substituting crisco for the butter) for many years. My grandmother was the first to make them, and then my mom, and now me. While I love this version, I've been experimenting a bit to bring some butter back into this cookie. Crisco, while perfect for some things, has no flavor. Butter, which makes cookies spread more in the oven making them thinner and therefore crunchy, has lots of flavor but (in this case) suboptimal properties. My Dutch friends might beg to differ- I gave some cookies to Marieke and she explained that cookies that are soft and chewy are actually considered 'gone bad' here, because they are stale from exposure to air. Packaged cookies are always crisp, so if they are soft, they've been left out in the Dutch humidity. To me, a crisp cookie means a packaged cookie, not homemade, and so less-good. I guess that's why I never got too interested in biscotti, because it is so crisp, even when fresh out of the oven.

I love the simple, natural ingredients in Nestle's Toll House morsels. The flavor of these chocolate chips brings me back to my childhood, at Christmas time. Other chocolate chips work just as well, and may even seem to have a deeper, darker chocolate flavor (which I appreciate!), however Nestle's evokes the memories for me, and so I bring back several bags when I travel to the US.

If you use chopped chocolate instead of (tempered) chips, keep in mind that the chocolate will melt on its edges a bit, for a more gooey experience (also delightful).

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
77 g butter @ room temperature (1/3 cup)
120 g crisco- vegetable shortening (2/3 cup)
157 g granulated sugar (Fijn Crystal suiker) (3/4 cup)
187 g packed brown sugar (light bastard suiker) (3/4 cup)
2 eggs
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
270 g all-purpose flour/ zeuwse bloem(2 and 1/4 cups but please use a scale for the flour)
250 g chocolate chips (9 oz)

Pre-heat conventional oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C)
Cream the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until well blended. One at a time, add the eggs, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and mix just until combined. In a separate bowl, sift the salt, baking powder, baking soda and flour. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar mix a bit at a time, mixing just until combined each time, and scraping the bowl often. Once flour is almost completely incorporated, add the chocolate chips, mix just until distributed. Drop by rounded spoon onto cookie sheets (I use the two spoon method, scoop with one and push the dough out of the spoon with another spoon) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. If you like your cookies very soft, take them out just before you think they are done. If you like a bit of crisp on the outside, leave them until they just begin to brown. Rotate your cookie sheet half-way through baking if your oven is uneven (most are).
Portioning cookie dough is always a challenge. Getting the cookies all about the same size can be tricky. The method I use harks back to my childhood. In order to split the last piece of cake or cookie, my friend and I would use the slice and choose method. One person would be in charge of slicing the cookie in half, and the other person would select which half she wanted.  The slicer has a strong incentive to make a perfect 50/50 cut, so it doesn't matter which half the chooser selects.  Needless to say, I always wanted to be the chooser. But what does this have to do with cookie portioning? Simply put: pretend you are the slicer with each ball of dough. Consider that after they are cooked, the cookie you get to eat will be the smallest one on the tray, or the one with the fewest chocolate chips. You can bet I make them all the same!!

If you are excited about keeping your cookies soft and fresh you can put small pieces of bread in the tin with the cookies. Don't allow the bread to touch the cookies directly, but rather put a piece of foil or parchment paper (baking paper) in between. Cover tightly and the cookies will stay softer than without bread. The rectangular tin above has bits of bread on the edges, on top of folded-over foil. We did taste tests and Mike preferred the ones without the bread keeping them extra soft (his comment was they did not taste any fresher, and he likes a bit of crunch on the outside), but I liked both versions.

6 comments:

  1. Your cookies reminded me of 'Jodenkoeken' with added chocolate. Which is a good thing! Very!
    And I still find it so funny you'd add pieces of bread to make the cookies soft. That is just unthinkable to Dutch people, we try everything to keep them crisp :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Meredith, I know you tend to only write about food, but I've tagged you for a questionnaire : http://danicabridgesmartin.blogspot.com/2012/05/memed.html
    Hope you decide to participate! :) Danica

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ah! Super major cravings for these right now... might have to go home and make some myself! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Meredith,

    Thanks for your article on Baking Soda! Hopefully I can pick some up this week so I can make cookies. :) Another question - where do you find chocolate chips and Crisco here?? I've checked all the usual suspects in my area (Dekamarkt, Deen & Albert Heijn).

    -Laura

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Laura, chocolate chips (that are meant for melting, so keep in mind they will melt a little bit in your cookies, not necessarily a bad thing, but different than the ones in the USA) are available at both the Genneper Park Molen (see http://blogcakeislove.blogspot.nl/2011/08/chocolate-and-where-to-find-it.html )
    and the Dommelsche Watermolen, which has crisco (see http://blogcakeislove.blogspot.nl/2012/03/finding-cake-supplies-in-eindhoven.html )
    If you don't live in Eindhoven ask your neighbors where the nearest 'molen' is located. Typically they have some cake supply stuff, although some have more than others. I also order crisco online at http://www.taartendecoratie.nl/ or at the Indian Store Rohit in south Eindhoven.
    I think you can also get chocolate chips for making hot chocolate (pricey, though!) in the center of Eindhoven at that cooking store across from the Heuvel Gallerie. Good luck! -Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the response Meredith. I don't live in Eindhoven - I live near Hoorn but I will check out the links you sent and go from there.

    Thanks again for the great blog! Hoorn is a long way from NY and finding things has been an adventure. lol

    Have a great Sunday!

    ReplyDelete