The Research Project: CCCs No. 3
You can find others in the Choc Chip Cookie Research Series at your ABC shop! ....sorry, here and here.
I thought I'd cracked it. I really did. I even answered the phone with a squeal:
"I've done it! I've made the perfect choc chip cookie!"
Bah. I should know by now that any biscuit straight out of the oven is gonna taste good; chewy, crispy, warm, melty... It's when they cool down that the dark reality hits, and you realise you have another sub-par batch. And you hang your head and your heart sinks a little in acknowledgment of the many more batches of choc chip cookies yet to be baked to achieve the perfection for which you are searching; a perfection that seems so intangible. Can anybody achieve perfection? Maybe I'm not destined for its masterly power, but will remain a mere acolyte of mediocrity.
Anyway, maudlin navel-gazing out of the way! For this batch I tried Alton Brown's CCC recipe called "The Chewy". Sounds promising. It read well too. I liked the idea of chilling the dough before baking, and the method of melting the butter, rather than creaming it with the sugar suggested a reduction in puffy cakiness. All good.
All went well during the dough making and dough dolloping. But the cooking time seemed wrong; 14 minutes seemed a rather long time, so instead I set the time for 10 minutes and went to check on them then. At 10 minutes they were the colour you see above; pretty dark, yes? And that darkness equalled the exact crispiness I am trying to avoid. Mr Brown, your chewy cookies were crispy! So, if that was 10 minutes, at 14 I would have had charcoal! On reflection, the oven temperature he specifies seems rather high. Thus, if making this recipe, keep a close eye on your cookies' browning progress and possibly reduce the temperature.
Another rather odd thing that occured was a distinct lack of flavour. There was no lingering chocolatiness or butteriness or a fill-the-mouth fullness you get with other CCCs. This is partly my fault for buying cheap-arse Home Brand dark chocolate. Chocolate is expensive, you know! And I wasn't holding out hopes for creating a masterpiece that night, based on previous experience (a premontion?), so standing in front of the awful yellow wrapper, $1.50 for 375 grams, I thought "how bad could it be?"
The answer is very bad. Bloody awful. Home Brand dark chocolate tastes like brown crayons. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Another tip, kids; do not fall for the laws of false economy. Choc chip biscuits have few ingredients. All should be of good quality. I have learnt this lesson painfully.
However, the chocolate wasn't the only culprit. The whole flavour of these tasted flat. It was crying out for some salt to lift the flavour. I think an extra teaspoon of salt would have really improved things. This was an interesting observation for me, becuase I specifically bought the unsalted butter that Alton Brown specified. I don't usually bake with unsalted butter; in Australia salted butter is all the go, and I still add the teaspoon-or-so of salt specified in recipes in addition. 'Hello flavour? Where are you?' was the general consensus by all who tried these.... my friends emailed me to state that "they weren't very exciting". So, I wonder if we have become so accustomed to the taste of salted butter in our cakes and biscuits that using the unsalted stuff sends our tastebuds into hibernation? An interesting theory, and one I hope to explore further.
So, it's onward and upward. I still have about 8 recipes to go; a combination of ones I've compiled myself, and some emailed to me by enthusiastic readers. I do have to say though that I hope I crack the code soone rather than later. It'd be a shame to discover the perfect recipe only to never want to see a choc chip cookie ever again.
Read on for the recipe:
Tagged with baking + Chocolate Chip Cookie
The Chewy – Alton Brown
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter
280 g (2 1/4 cups) bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
250g (1 1/4 cups) brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 190 degrees C / 375F
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.