ANATOMY OF A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE


There is much debate about what makes a good chocolate chip cookie. Some like 'em crisp all the way with gooey morsels of melted chocolate running through. Others, like myself, prefer a golden edge with a soft center. That's what this is. Some odd years ago, I stumbled upon the original chocolate chip cookie that I have slightly modified for use today. I don't have a single clue where I got the original recipe, so if this looks at all familiar, please feel free to link back. I'm not sure why I haven't posted this recipe before. Likely because I've strayed from including recipes that use refined sugars, which are a rare occasion in my diet. However, once I got a request last week to make these again, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to share.

So, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. There are a few variables that make this so: the chocolate, the vanilla, the sugar, and of course, the butter.

Let's start with the chocolate and vanilla. My main point on these two ingredients is to use the highest quality that you can find. For the chocolate, I suggest at least 70% fair trade cocoa. The same goes with vanilla. Throw out the artificial vanilla or even pure vanilla extract that you can get at any supermarket. Find something better, something local is great too. The importance of using high-quality ingredients in baking is of the upmost importance. It is more expensive, but the payoff is worth the extra bucks.

For a chewier cookie, you'll want to have a higher brown to white sugar ratio. The reason for this comes down to the chemistry of the sugars. Modern day brown sugars are most commonly made by using a refined white sugar and adding molasses. The addition of molasses, a liquid sugar, will increase the moisture content of the sugar (think of the texture between white and brown sugars). For the purpose of this cookie, we'll be using a 3:1 ratio.

Finally, the butta'. There is some speculation about American vs cultured butter in baking. To get the right texture for these cookies, use American butter. While cultured (or European) butter is more flavourful, it contains a higher fat content (82% vs 80%). For the flour in our cookie batter to fully absorb the fat, you're going to want to go with the lower, American-style butter. It's cheaper than cultured butter too, which is a bonus. In regards to temperature, you'll want to bring the butter to just above room temperature before creaming. To do so, cut into chunks to speed up the process. DO NOT let the butter get too warm.

Allow the dough to rest for at least one hour, and upwards of 36 hours. For a very tasty cookie, go the whole mile and let it rest for 36 hours. Giving the dough time to rest gives the flour a chance to soak up all the liquid and lends to a firmer consistency.

Roll dough large enough so as to have a crunchy exterior and a chewy interior. I'd recommend measuring out a tablespoon.
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Original source unknown, modifications made // Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (227 grams) American-style butter, brought to just above room temperature
1 1/2 cup (300 grams) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, brought to room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
2 cups dark chocolate, finely chopped
Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Cream butter and both sugars together for four minutes. Start on low speed, and once incorporated increase to medium speed. Do not go above medium speed, or else butter will heat up. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat two minutes. Add baking soda and flour. Dough will be thick. Add chocolate chips and mix well. Mixing will develop the gluten, allowing for a chewy cookie. Careful not to mix too much though. Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to 36 hours. Preheat oven to 350F. Drop 1 TBSP dough rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt to create a lasting flavor. Not TOO much. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Enjoy with a tall glass of almond milk.

CORNMEAL WAFFLES

Grandpa Y's Cornmeal Waffles
cornmeal waffles
Grandpa Y's Cornmeal Waffles
A big thing with my grandparents growing up was brunch on the weekends—Belgian waffles were the dish of choice. Damn, make grandpa makes a good waffle. We’d gather around, chattering away, CBC Radio on in the background, waiting for brunch to be served. The endless toppings for the waffles were laid out on the lazy-Susan placed in the middle of the table. There were Summerland Sweets syrups of all kinds, Rogers syrup, molasses, homemade yogurt...My favorites were always peach and blueberry Summerland Sweets, and brown sugar + lemon. Once the waffles were served, I’d ever so carefully fill each individual compartment with a different type of topping before digging in. My grandpa shared some great words about topping selection:
"Collect syrups you like. There's Aunt Jemima, of course, but we like Rogers Golden as well or better. You CAN buy maple flavouring and make up your own (much cheaper) Maple Syrup from Golden. And check out the `berry' syrups in the grocery stores (or even coffee shops; Decadent Desserts used to have liquer toppings for instance). Brown sugar and lemon goes well. Zelda likes Molasses (NOT baking m. - it's a little strong). Hazelnut is great along with Raspberry or Strawberry. My best ever is now Chocolate/Cranberry/Cabernet sauce from the Okanagan (or home made) with a little added Golden Syrup."
Cornmeal Waffles
Slightly modified from my grandpas recipe // Makes 6 wafflesNow, as a responsible consumer, I have to tell you to look for a non-GMO, or at least organic cornmeal. Corn is a HUGE commodity crop and is an equally as large issue, but that's a whole other post in itself.

Ingredients
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp honey
2 TBSP cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the waffle maker. In a bowl, combine the egg, almond milk, baking powder, honey, salt and cornmeal. Slowly add the flour and mix, taking care not to over-blend. Ladle in to waffle iron. My grandpa notes that he leaves the iron open for the first part of the cooking, so as to not squish the waffle too much and to keep it from sticking. I haven't tried it myself, but it makes good sense. Cook according to your irons instructions. Serve with plenty of syrup.

HOMEMADE VANILLA ALMOND MILK

My choice in almond milk has varied over the years. I've never been big into drinking the stuff straight, which is exactly how I used to be with dairy milk. I like the stuff in every other possible way though. Homemade almond milk was a revelation.

As you would imagine, store-bought milks contain some preservatives, which I have been trying to avoid as much as possible. The somewhat good thing about them is that they are also often fortified with vitamins. I prefer to get my vitamins from whole food sources (and hopefully I do an OK job of it), so I'm not too concerned about this. It is nice though, for those who aren't too conscious of it.

In all honesty, I thought that making almond milk would be a lot of work. To my delight, it is not. All you need is a high-speed blender and a cheesecloth.

I haven't quite convinced the fam to get on board with the homemade stuff (they are all big dairy drinkers & my mum prefers store bought), but I am a convert. Their reasoning has something to do with the natural separation that occurs with the almonds and water. It's the same reason that they are also not sold on natural peanut butter. For me though, I don't mind. All it takes is a little shake and the stuff is good to go.
Almond milk
VANILLA ALMOND MILK Makes 1.5 cups

1/2 cup raw almonds
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 Medjool date, pitted
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Soak almonds in warm water overnight. In a blender, combine all ingredients. Run on high for one minute. Strain through a cheesecloth* and pour into a jar. Keeps for up to five days refrigerated. The leftover almond pulp can be used in baked goods, oatmeal, or smoothies.

* A cheesecloth works great. If you have a nut bag, it would work even better. I only caution using a fine mesh sieve, which is what I did the first time around. You'll likely need to filter it a few times, or else you'll be left with chunks of almond pulp.
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