I'm still not running, so I either have to write about personal stuff that I'd rather not discuss, or I can explain the workings behind Steve's Evil Kitchen as I create a new recipe. Sorry, guys, no personal stuff today.
The type of chocolate chip cookies I like are the complete opposite of what's become fashionable, so I decided it was time to make a change. There are a number of recipes that have been popular lately and each has some idea worth stealing. Here's the alternatives:
Note: links were removed due to spamming.
Alton Brown's (the reigning champ)
NY Times/Amanda Hesser
NY Times/Jacques Torres (momentarily hugely popular)
allrecipes.com (the most commonly made)
Let's deconstruct the cookie, starting with ingredients. First, the eggs. The egg yolks are necessary to emulsify the fat, but the whites tend to dry out the cookie. Removing a white will make a moister and chewier cookie, but one needs to add moisture and protein to make up for the white. Using bread flour rather than all-purpose will increase the protein (just adding more flour causes cakiness and extended cooking time) and unbleached flours tend to spread more than bleached. Butter, rather than shortening, will make for a thin, chewy cookie, because butterfat melts at a low temperature, causing spreading. Baking soda, a leavener in cakey cookies, causes a change in dough pH which results in the butterfat solidifying at a higher temperature, also increasing spread; dissolving the baking soda before incorporation and letting the dough rest will eliminate the leavening. Brown sugar is hygroscopic, making for a moister and chewier cookie. A tablespoon of corn syrup will keep dissolved sugars from recrystallizing, making for a moister cookie. Vanilla extract simply adds depth of flavor, as does salt. Though chocolate purists might opt for Valrhona bittersweet chips, people expect Nestle's semisweet; they're the original and people's palates have accustomed to them. I like to accent chocolate flavor, usually with coffee, but in baked goods, beside vanilla, what works well is a pinch of cinnamon.
This leads to the equipment and techniques, as the ingredients thus far are leading to a sloppy mess that needs to be controlled. Most recipes call for parchment paper, as it reduces spreading by decreasing warming from beneath, but this also will decrease the browning Maillard reaction, which gives cookies their baked flavor. Cooking at 325 degrees makes for a soft doughy cookie; 375 is preferred to crisp the edges while leaving the center soft. Smaller cookies cook faster and plump more and short cooking times make for chewiness. Shaping cookies by rolling them into balls in one's palms compacts the dough, reducing spread. Storing the cookie dough overnight in a refrigerator will decrease the spread and also causes a small amount of gluten to be worked, making for chewiness; also, the baking soda will completely react before baking, making for a flatter cookie. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar, melting the butter and then dissolving the sugar in the melted butter will make for the mouthfeel people want from a soft chewy cookie.
So, the recipe writes itself, right? If you've actually read all this, you now see what goes on in Steve's Evil Kitchen. "The devil's in the details."
If I get this worked out, I might even surprise everyone with a complete recipe and (gasp) photos.
Sunday Night Musings
5 days ago