Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Old Dog (Me) Learns New Tricks...

I have baked thousands of chocolate chip cookies. I am SURE I have. After all, I used to work at this little general store in Maine, and I would bake things to sell there for extra money. I had my home kitchen licensed and everything. I baked giant banana chocolate chip muffins and blueberry muffins, giant chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, and brownies. Yet, for some reason, the other day, when I decided it would be a good day for Quin and I to bake some chocolate chip cookies for our friend who made us this holiday basket, I decided to do a little research. I used to know my recipe by heart but since I am pregnant, and old (as the title states), my memory is failing me. And I can't seem to find the written recipe amongst my considerable cookbook, magazine, and loose recipe collection (that's for another post). So I went online for a recipe. Would have LOVED to have tried this one, but didn't have the time or the gourmet chocolate discs (but it is a goal for another day). Decided on this one, although I will rewrite it here in this post since I found the ingredient list to be a bit wonky (I like my ingredients listed in the order they are used, I thought everyone did...). While looking for the recipe, I stumbled onto a lovely little blog called The Bumbling Baker, and in this post she had tips for making better chocolate chip cookies. I had no idea. I decided right then and there to use all the tips during our cookie baking extravaganza...

....am I glad I did! They really made a difference. The cookies would have been good no matter what but they were WONDERFUL, HEAVENLY, DELICIOUS! What were the tips you ask?

1) This one I already knew... always use butter, never margarine. Check!
2) Line your pans with parchment paper. I SWEAR this is why all of my cookies were the same golden brown on both the top and bottom. I have never used parchment paper with my cookies, and will now always use it.
3) This one was a bit of a bust for me... Use an ice cream scoop so that the cookies are the same size. Well, I don't have a mini ice cream scoop, so I used a Tablespoon measuring spoon, but my cookies turned out all different sizes, so I may go back to just using a metal table spoon, since it really doesn't bother me that they differ in size.
4) After placing the dough on your parchment lined cookie sheets, put the sheets in the freezer for a few minutes before baking to prevent the dough from spreading. This worked like a charm! My freezer even had this wire drawer that supported the sheets while keeping them perfectly flat. It was not made for this purpose but worked really well.
5) Press some loose chips into the tops of the cookies to make them picture perfect. Quin had a grand time with this. In fact, you can tell which cookies are mine and which are hers by the number of chips on the tops of the cookies.
Thanks, DLB, fellow baking Canadian!

The only tip I really have for baking cookies would have been to invest in the best cookie sheets you can, but once I used the parchment and put them in the freezer before baking, even my worst pan produced the same results as my Air Bake pan.

2 1/4 cup All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup Firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup Granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
12 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Coarsely chopped nuts (opt)

Mix flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.
Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy.
Blend in flour mixture.
Stir in nuts and chips.
Drop from teaspoon, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes about 6 dozen. (made about 4 doz for me)

Happy Baking! I am off to eat some more cookies...


dlb said...

Hey Tiffany!
Thanks for the shout-out!
I'll definitely keep reading and wish you a Happy New Year!

Tiffany Teske said...

Thanks, DBL!! Happy New Year and lots of amazing baking in 2009...