Anatomy of a Perfect Chocolate Cookie

So I was asked to make ‘chocolate chocolate cookies’ and quickly found that there are as many variations on that as there are on chocolate chip cookies, including with and without flour (both good). I finally found one I loved at the website Crispy Waffle (love that name). Making it a few times consecutively I found that the author’s conclusion that milk chocolate was resulting in a cookie that was too sweet was not my experience. The dutch cocoa and bittersweet chocolate did result in a dark cookie that I liked, but using semi-sweet chocolate chips made them edgy and almost bitter. So I went back to milk chocolate chips, and being a vanilla addict, I was compelled to make it a triple-chocolate/triple-vanilla cookie, by adding more vanilla extract (tablespoon instead of a teaspoon) as well as two other kinds of vanilla (vanilla powder and the seeds of a vanilla bean). To retain and amplify my chocolate flavor, I added a teaspoon of Dave’s Coffee Syrup, which is a favorite addition to nearly any chocolate thing I make. Now in danger of being too smooth, I found a final topping of sea salt kept the cookie well-balanced.

Also, perhaps due to the addition of more liquid (coffee syrup, vanilla)  I found I needed 15 minutes to get the right soft, chewy texture at 325 degrees. At 13 minutes the cookies barely set up and were living in the dangerous limbo between cookie dough and cookie. I’m not saying my oven is properly calibrated, so you’ll have to experiment for yourself if you want something more akin to a brownie-lava like thing or soft and chewy cookie.

Cookie Name Still Under Development: Cookie Cube, Triple-Triple? makes about 20 cookies using a 1 and 1/3 scoop

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I have a big block so this is at best an estimate).
  • 1 stick sweetened (unsalted) butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp of Dave’s Coffee Syrup (or you can substitute actual coffee)
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • heavy 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of flaky sea salt for the top

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla powder, baking soda, chocolate chips and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter and 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate together. I did this in a microwave, so yes, I’m a hack.
  4. Mix the chocolate and butter until it combines—from a greasy wet mess to something dark, brown and satin-y.
  5. When cool, add the vanilla and coffee (or coffee syrup). Whisk thoroughly.
  6. In your stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  
  7. Add the chocolate/coffee/vanilla mixture until well combined.
  8. Add the flour and stir by hand.  Maybe one or two “pulse” mixes to ensure everything is well mixed. Don’t OVERMIX!
  9. I used the 1 1/3 scoops which I found gave me about 20 cookies. If you use a smaller scoop you’ll likely need to adjust the time in the oven, too. 
  10. Bake for 15 minutes.   Cookies are best ‘underbaked’ so they are chewy.  When you take them out of your oven, depending on their condition, yo might want them to cool on the cookie sheet (more cooking) or remove them.  Again, it’s a personal choice. Everyone in my house wants to eat them as soon as they can be picked up (about five minutes). 

Gluten-free Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

GF Oatmeal Craisin CookiesI am continually challenged to bake things so that I may serve a constituency that may be have issues with meat products and/or wheat products, so I am always looking to solve the ‘this is good but not as good as the meat/wheat version.”  If we are going to bake something, it’s going to have to be the best version of whatever it is.  So it is with Oatmeal cookies, that I have been working on for two years already.  I use the King Arthur measure-for-measure gluten free flour, which I think is a revelation for baking, if you are baking for someone who is simply looking to live gluten-free.  For someone with a serious gluten allergy (etc.) special care needs to be taken with all of your tools, ingredients and even you.   That’s challenging, so take this recipe with a grain of gluten.

INGREDIENTS

  • 18 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups craisins, soaked in vanilla-water*
  • 3 cups quaker oats, ground in the cuisinart
  • vanilla powder/vanilla paste to taste (optional)
  • maple syrup for basting

 

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oven to 375°F.
  • In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla; beat well; until no longer gritty
  • Combine all dry ingredients: gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt oats and craisins; mix briefly by hand to combine (and maybe one or two seconds using your stand mixer)
  • Use a 1.5 scoop and make big cookies.
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and finish at 350 for 5-10 minutes.  (Depends on if you want really soft or crispy cookies, and the size you scooped them at)
  • Remove from oven, and after about two minutes, baste with maple syrup.

 

 

Go To Meringues!

I love meringues because once you get the hang of it, they’re pretty easy to get right, and they can literally be whipped up pretty quickly (even though they take a while to finish).  For a dessert, they’re relatively low-calorie, they’re naturally gluten-free and people can eat lots of them.  You can’t say that about too many cookies, and definitely not for any desserts I make.    There is nothing wrong with a plain meringue but I find I like to add more vanilla than is traditional (1 tablespoon vs. 1-2 teaspoons) and other stuff, usually coffee flavor or syrup. For syrup I use Dave’s Coffee syrup, which is fantastic.  Again, you can flavor them however you like but remember; add the flavor after you have gotten some foaming in your mixer.  Don’t try without electric beaters or a stand mixer, your wrists will never be the same.   Lastly don’t forget to add the salt!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 4-5  large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Optional (not all together)
    • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon of Dave’s Coffee Syrup
    • 1/8 tsp Butterscotch extract
    • Sprinkles/sanding sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Separate your egg whites from yolks and set aside.  Legend has it if you get any yolk in your whites they will not become stiff peaks.
  3. Using a stand mixer, beat egg whites for about 60 seconds, then add your cream of tartar.  Continue to mix and slowly add your sugar and salt.  When you have added all the sugar, continue to mix and slowly add other ingredients like vanilla, coffee syrup or butterscotch extract.
  4. Keep beating until soft peaks form and continue to beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
  5. Use a piping bag (this picture is of a straight tube, but Pipe the meringues onto the pans using a pastry bag and star tip. Alternatively, drop meringues by large teaspoonfuls onto the pans.
  6. Bake the meringues for 1 hour, then turn off the oven /heat and allow the meringues another hour in the stove.  Tase for desired crispiness.