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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies...the big questions asked

I'm not happy. Oh sure, they look good. And the taste was great. But the texture...too crispy! Not chewy enough. I seem to have a hex on me which prevents me ever making a really good chocolate chip cookie; one that is crispy without and chewy within. And it's not for lack of reader suggestions and comments from the last time I aired my woes. I pulled these out after 12 minutes, when they looked done, but still gooey in the middle...but just a few minutes of cooling sent them crisp and crunchy. Hmmm.

There seem to be so many variables which can affect the texture of a chocolate chip cookie and make it crispy; oven temperature too high; baked for too long; too much butter; too much sugar; rolled oats instead of quick oats; plain flour instead of cake flour.....I'm sure the list could go on.
I got this recipe from Nic at Baking Sheet, and I would like to stress that it is a great recipe; I just seem to have problems with all choc chip cookie recipes. The taste is fabulous, and they are very addictive. In fact, when my tasters had a go this evening the majority said they loved the texture and wouldn't want them any chewier.

But I do.
I want to make my perfect chocolate chip cookie, and with the same vigour and passion for research displayed by Jeffrey Steingarten, I want to have an ongoing chocolate chip cookie baking project in which I change the variables. Next time I try this recipe I want to reduce the amount of white sugar and butter a little. The white sugar added to the crispiness in my opinion, as well as making them just a tad too sweet for my taste. And the butter seemed a bit excessive, leaving scary-looking wet, greasy UFOs on the paper in my biscuit tin. I think a smaller amount of butter may reduce crispiness, but hopefully not create too much cakiness.
Also, I don't know about the type of oats I used. I used the bog standard ones we get here; "rolled oats", but I think what they use in American recipes is a more broken-up, finer textures oat; perhaps giving my oats a quick whizz in the food processor might help? Nic did suggest this if you don't have 'quick cooking oats'. But how do you know if your oats are quick cooking or not?
I also lowered the oven temperature by 10 degrees C, but I think I might lower it even more to about 150C. I've heard that fan forced ovens should be lowered by about 10C anyway for any baking recipe, and I've heard rumous that our oven (a Gaggenau) can be lowered even further - up to 20C. But that does seem a lot, and I worry about pulling them out too early and having wet, soggy cookies (the other problem I often have....).

What a complaining Nancy I sound! These biscuits were good, and I've just come back from dropping them off to A. for him to take to work tomorrow (yes, these were the second installment of "Baked Goods For The Mystery Workplace) where his father sampled one and declared it really good. I've just become a bit too obsessed with this 'issue'.

You know, I have no doubt that if I didn't have this blog and have become so interested in cooking I wouldn't have nearly the same amount of passion about this! In many ways this blog has been excellent for experience and how I strive for new heights, but it sure it can be damn annoying at times. I get the feeling that some people tonight just wanted to tell me to get over it! :-) It could just be an overactive imagination...but I know I can do better!
Read on for the recipe:

Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies
Adapted and converted to metric measurements from Baking Sheet

Makes 40 cookies

250g flour
50g quick cooking oats
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
165g white sugar
175g brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon

-Preheat oven to 175C and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
-In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars.
-Blend in vanilla extract and egg.
-Slowly add in the flour mixture until nearly combined. Add in chocolate chips and walnuts and stir until dough is uniform in color and distribution.
-Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.
-Bake at 175C for 11-13 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.


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