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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Research Project: CCCs No. 2


Look at that bit of gooey chocolate, straight from the oven. You want one, don't you.....? :-P
So, most of you are aware of my current research project in which I'm trying to find my perfect choc chip cookie recipe. Although 'perfect recipe' is perhaps not the right idea; I'm trying to find the recipe that best works for me, and gives me exactly the kind of cookie I want; fairly thick, but crispy on the outside and chewy and gooey in the middle. Basically, like the ones you get at Mrs Fields cookies. I know it can be done at home!!
After the post a few days ago I had lots of people leave comments and email me with recipes; thank you! I was very flattered that so many people read the blog and feel interested enough to leave a comment. There are some really interesting recipes and techniques there and I hope to try them all.

So....last night I was in full chef mode. I made some basil pesto, some excellent Thai fish cakes (went freeform there, no recipe!), a dairy-free macadamia, coconut and lime cake (post very soon) and, finally, at 11.30pm on a school night, I decided to whip up another batch of CCCs to take to our dress rehearsal tonight.
The recipe I chose (from the list I now have) was based upon the amount of butter and chocolate I had in the house. I chose the recipe sent to me by Linda, who seems to be quite a culinary perfectionist herself, which she adapted from seeing it on the Food Network, Canada. Her recipe used about 1/2 the amount of butter of others, and specified chocolate chunks rather than chips. I liked that idea, and I used a chunk of dark couverture from Chocolatier. Oh no - no cheap compound chocolate chips for my privileged friends!

The interesting thing about this recipe is the use of some cornflour (cornstarch), which changes the texture in the same way as in a sponge cake - it makes it softer and more tender. All very worthy qualities for my perfect CCC. However, I think my execution of the recipe made them too soft. After 9 minutes I took them out (admittedly I did have the oven lower than than the recipe specified, but I was following instructions from Gaggenau which tells me to lower temperatures by at least 10C), let them sit for a few minutes and tried transferring them to a rack. I had real trouble doing this, as they started falling apart, and then falling through the rack itself! So, I put them back in the oven for a few minutes to firm them up a bit more.

Interestingly, the tasters at rehearsal didn't like this batch as much as the crispy crunchy batch I brought, and wasn't happy with, on Tuesday. They loved the flavour (thank you Stephanie - I did add extra vanilla essence - good idea!), but felt the texture was too soft and flabby and the whole cookie too flat; not enough to sink your teeth into. One person described them as 'very American' (?!). This didn't stop them from eating the whole batch, though! Even flawed CCCs are better than no CCCs!
I do think some of the problem might have been in my execution; the lower oven temperature might have played a part, and also the fact that I didn't use quite as much chocolate as specified. I do think this recipe has promise, though. I really like the use of the cornflour, and I think the addition of some finely ground oatmeal with the cornflour might create the perfect type of texture I'm looking for. I also think I needed to make each cookie larger; more dough in each unit would possibly have made a chunkier cookie. However, whenever I drop a 1/4 cup measure of dough (or whatever is specified) I usually start laughing at the huge American cookie size, and scrape off a bit to resemble a standard Aussie biscuit size. It's also pure stinginess on my part; I want to get as many cookies out of the dough as possible. I need to stop doing this and just damn well follow instructions!!! (what a cathartic process this project will be for me....)

But, onward and upward! More CCCs to come - and my choir friends very excited about acting as tasters and critics for the next batches.
Again, thank you Linda for a very interesting recipe. I like it because it has exercised that scientific part of my brain that analyses the chemistry of food. In fact, this whole research project will do a very good job of that!
Read on for the recipe:


Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe By :Kayaksoup adapted from an Anna Olson recipe

Serving Size : 24

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter -- softened
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces (285g) bittersweet chocolate -- cut into chunks

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350 F (175C).
2.Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
3.Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
Stir in chocolate chunks.
4.Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
5.Let cool slightly and enjoy.
Source: "Sugar"

Linda writes: I found this recipe on Food Network Canada, upped the chocolate slightly and recieved the adulation of friends, family and coworkers. The keys are the cornstarch and the bittersweet chocolate. You can use chips instead of chunks.

Niki writes: I added extra vanilla to this recipe as well as a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, becuase I love the aroma. I also added about 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, which all contributed to an excellent flavour.




16 Comments:

  • I would guess off the top of my head that you would need more leavening (for height and structure), more brown sugar (for chewiness), and possibly shortening in the place of some butter (I doubt Mrs. Fields' recipe is all-butter). I feel a little like I need to go to the library and do RESEARCH now!

    By Blogger Brian W, at 9/10/2005 01:06:00 am  

  • Hi Niki, if I was one of your friends, I'd never admit to you that you'd made the perfect CCC because I'd want you to keep making trial ones forever! Imagine that - a never ending supply of homemade CCCs!

    A friend of mine has a fantastic CCC recipe. I will have to make it and post about it one of these days. I always find it a bit of a pain getting greasy hands rolling the dough into balls. What a wimp I am! :)

    By Blogger Kelly, at 9/10/2005 09:50:00 am  

  • glad you tried it. It is an interesting recipe, and the cornstarch was what first drew me. Mine tend to set up crispy on the outside, moist inside. They ARE very "American" though...

    By Blogger linda, at 9/10/2005 11:28:00 am  

  • I know I have settled on Bill Granger's recipe for ccc's. I have even triple chocolated them at times, white, dark and milk and another variation is the addition of roasted peanuts. Then when using white chocolate I have to really keep an eye on things as I don't like burned white chocolate and I like the chocolate to keep its form. I have a recipe on my site if you are interested. It is posted under an address where I also baked some white chocolate and raspberry muffins that day.

    http://gourmetaddict.blogspot.com/2005/06/white-chocolate-and-raspberry-muffins.html.

    I think the amount of brown sugar involved is definately the key ingredient for the chewiness factor too and timing is the key to the crispness factor. I found 10 mins for each batch and sometimes rotating bottom to top when the top batch came out.

    I make two batches about every couple of weeks. Sometimes for extra visual appeal when flattening the rolls of dough on the baking tray I dot a few extra choc chips on top so they are hidden within and exposed on top.

    Good luck with your further baking adventures with CCC's!

    By Blogger Lushlife, at 9/10/2005 01:53:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki - this is all very interesting, even if you haven't yet reached your goal of the perfect CCC! I think Brian's suggestion of using part shortening might be a good idea - my mom always used shortening rather than butter in her CCCs and I always thought the texture of hers were far better than any others I had. Hers were small enough that they weren't especially chewy and moist inside, so increaing the size is probably wise too. Another idea... I finally made that oatmeal cookie recipe I sent you and ended up refrigerating and then freezing part of the dough. When I bake off the cold dough (I have to shape it into rough balls rather than dropping it), the cookies do not spread nearly as much and stay quite thick.

    By Blogger Cathy, at 9/10/2005 10:55:00 pm  

  • I've found a recipe that you might be interested in adding to your list of things to test! Here's Alton Brown's recipe for "The Chewy", one of his fave chocolate chip cookies. Apologies for the US measurements.

    Makes 30 cookies.

    2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound)
    2 1/4 cups bread flour
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 1/4 cups brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

    Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

    Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

    Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

    By Blogger Brian W, at 9/11/2005 10:26:00 am  

  • i have a recipe from the last issue of chow (an american food rag) for a super chocolate chip cookie. it looks very promising, though i havent tried it. if you're ever interested, ill send it your way. what a brilliant endeavor this is. cheers!

    By Blogger violet, at 9/11/2005 01:47:00 pm  

  • Brian - I reckon you're right, but I'm not so keen on using shortening, really. In any case, it's really hard to find in Aust. We don't have any equivalent to the US Crisco or UK Trex. We have Copha, but it's not the same - solidified coconut shortening that has a different texture and properties. We only really use it for chocolate crackles and White Christmas. It's awful stuff.

    Kelly - you've got a good point there! Don't think they've thought of it though; they're all very critical people ready to give their opinion! Yes, messy, greasy hands are an effect of CCC making - a tea towel at the ready is needed!

    Linda - thanks again for showing me this one. I think, making it again, I'd have the oven a bit hotter and I'd make them a bit thicker, so they would sit up a bit higher and thicker. I do love the cornflour in it, though!

    Lushlife - I've heard a lot of people mention Bill's CCC recipe; but I always had insular, parochial doubts that an Aussie could have a recipe to rival one from an American! I will definitely go and check it out now; especially after making a few of his things this weekend that were excellent.


    Cathy- yes, the shortening issue. See above for my concerns about shortening in Australia! And yes, I've heard quite a bit about chilling cookie dough before baking, so they don't spread out as much. It sounds like a pretty sound idea, and one that I will try next time I have some time between making the dough and needing to cook it.


    Brian - No need to apologise for the US measurements. I have a little bookmark from 'Books for Cooks' with conversions on it, so I don't need to run to the computer all the time any more! Thanks for the recipe; I've heard about this one, and it's high on my list to try next. I think it *is* next, actually!

    Violet - I'm really enjoying comparing the different recipes around, so yes, do send it on if you're willing!

    By Blogger Niki, at 9/11/2005 08:24:00 pm  

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