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Chocolate Chip Cookie Nirvana

30 Aug

I cannot believe it. I think I’ve finally landed on a chocolate chip cookie recipe I love. I am beyond excited . . . which is hilarious for a feminist teenager who eschewed home economics in favour of drafting classes.

But trust me, I haven’t needed to drafted a thing for years. There have, however, been many times a great chocolate chip cookie (CCC) would have solved many problems. Particularly for a feminist.

Susan's Nivana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Susan’s Nirvana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Having missed Mrs. Holmes’ rigorous Home Ec classes, I never grasped baking science. My culinary education advanced recently thanks to the amazing Tessa at Handle the Heat. A recent culinary graduate, Tessa undertook the onerous research of testing multiple variations on the classic “Tollhouse Cookie Recipe” (Canadian translation = chocolate chip cookie). See her incredible 2-part blog posts reporting on the results of each recipe variation she tested. Her photos of each cookie iteration, taste descriptions and comparisons were very helpful and easy to understand.

Take a gander at Tessa’s hard work and figure out what you like in a chocolate chip cookie. Then give her recommendations a try. I’m certainly glad I did.

Based on my ideal CCC — melt in your mouth softness, not too crispy or crumbly and plenty of chips — I selected options from among Tessa’s recipe variation(s). My choices rendered terrific cookies warm from the oven. They still made me happy when “tested” cold.

Soft centres, slightly crispy rims, not too sweet.

Soft centres, slightly crispy edges, not too sweet.

These are the types of ingredients and tools I used:

1.     I used no-salt butter brought to room temperature. In my family, we’d always used all-vegetable shortening for our CCCs. Next time, I may try 1/2 butter + 1/2 Butter-Flavoured Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening and see how that turns out.

2.     The flour was Robin Hood all-purpose unbleached — which gave me slightly off-white coloured cookies.

3.     I have a Black & Decker hand mixer, not a stand mixer. It seemed to do the job just fine.

4.     I used semi-sweet Hershey brand Chipits chocolate chips.

5.     Bake cookies on a rimless, metal cookie sheet (NOT dark-coloured non-stick sheets) lined with parchment paper. I found reasonably priced rimless metal sheets at Home Sense.

NO Non-Stick Baking Pans. Use rimless metal lined with parchment paper.

NO Non-Stick Baking Pans. Use rimless metal lined with parchment paper.

6.     Oven was pre-heated to 350 F, the oven rack set in the middle position.

7.     Eggs were large.

8.     I baked the cookies for 9 minutes, then turned the pan in the oven and baked for an addition 1 – 1.5 minutes. Next time, I’ll turn the cookie sheet half way through the nine minutes (to allow cookies to brown evenly). Nine minutes may prove long enough.

Here’s the recipe I chose:

SUSAN’S NIRVANA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES    Makes:  20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp                                  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp                                                salt
  • 1/4 tsp                                                baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp                                                baking soda
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 1/4 lb)                unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp                               granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp                               packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp +                                             vanilla extract
  • 1 large                                                 egg
  • 1 cup [250 mL]                                  semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1.     Preheat oven to 350 F. Cover a rimless metal cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.     In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

3.     In a large bowl place room-temperature butter (slightly colder than room temp in a summer kitchen w/o air-conditioning), white and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until the sugar & butter are creamy.

4.     Add the vanilla extract and egg to the butter mixture and beat well to combine.

5.     Gradually add the dry ingredients (I added mine in 3 parts) and beat with mixer until dough is smooth.

6.     Using a wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips until well-distributed throughout the dough.

7.     Scoop dough by 1.5 tablespoonfuls on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. The smaller dough balls made nicer looking cookies! Leave 2 – 3″ between cookies.

Leave plenty of room between 1.5 Tbsp-sized dough balls.

Leave plenty of room between 1.5 Tbsp-sized dough balls.

8.     Bake in centre of pre-heated 350 F oven for 9 – 11 minutes, turning the pan halfway through to ensure even browning of the cookies. SET A TIMER to avoid over-baking cookies.

9.     Allow cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before carefully moving to racks to cool completely.

10.    I kept the bowl of raw dough in the refrigerator between batches. Dough can be chilled in the fridge for 24 hours before baking.

Happy, Happy, Happy. FOund my chocolate chip nirvana. Thanks, Tessa!

Happy, Happy, Happy. Found my chocolate chip nirvana. Thanks, Tessa!

Care to share your favourite chocolate chip recipe? Or what you consider CCC nirvana?

 

 

 

Too many peaches? Make Peaches & Cream Pie

28 Aug

Came home one day last week with a gorgeous 3 L basket of Ontario peaches. I was looking forward to a week of juicy, sunny delight. However, the following day brown spots appeared on several of the fuzzy, rosy-hued fruit.

Perfectly ripe Ontario Freestone Peaches.

Perfectly ripe Ontario Freestone Peaches.

When the Orchard Goddess gives me rapidly ripening peaches, I pull out the recipe for Peaches and Cream Pie. I first enjoyed this pie at my sister-in-law Jane’s table. It’s a single-crust pie with a filling of fresh peaches combined with sour cream and crowned with a dusting of brown sugar melted under the broiler.

Peaches and Cream Pie

Peaches and Cream Pie

Jane got the recipe from my sister Sharon. Sharon reports she received the recipe from her friend Betty who found it in an issue of — quelle suprise — Canadian Living Magazine many years ago. The Test Kitchen at Canadian Living must be responsible for 70% of the finest recipes used by women North of the 49th Parallel! Continue reading

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