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Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Bake-Off III

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206 replies to this topic

#151 gfron1

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 08:56 PM

i've only used AP and not the mix of flours. And there's also a light muscovado out there for the weak of heart.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#152 MikeHartnett

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:37 AM

Yeah. I just used "ap baking flour" and they turned out fine the first time.

I tried them again last night though (new batch), and I had issues. These cookies didn't spread as much as the first, and ended up cakier and dry. What gives?

#153 gfron1

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:40 AM

Not sure what to say on the variation. I've made about 100 of these all with uniform results. The only thing I can think is that you overmixed or over handled. Mix just until combined. Good luck.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#154 Josho

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:05 PM

Regarding Paulraphael's recipe, should the dough be brought to room temperature (or close to it) prior to scooping? The recipe simply says that chilled dough will be too stiff for smooth balls, but it doesn't say if the smoothness is desirable.

--Josh

#155 paulraphael

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:14 PM

Regarding Paulraphael's recipe, should the dough be brought to room temperature (or close to it) prior to scooping? The recipe simply says that chilled dough will be too stiff for smooth balls, but it doesn't say if the smoothness is desirable.

--Josh

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Sorry, that should just be written more clearly. Keep the dough chilled as much as possible. The instructions are just letting you know not to bother making perfectly smooth balls, since the dough will be too hard.

#156 David Leite

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:36 PM

I suspect the author of the recipe copied Jaques Torres's use of the two flours, but Torres torres likely only uses that combination because he doesn't use AP for anything in his shop.

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Actually Jacques was kind enough to have some all-purpose on hand for the baking session, and we made many batches with varying amounts/ratios of the different flours, etc. to see the effect. We both felt the combo of flours had a better structure and didn't spread as much as ap flour. He feels the combo bumps up the protein/gluten content a bit above ap flour. Of course, this all depends on which ap flour you use, etc.
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#157 paulraphael

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 01:58 PM

Of course, this all depends on which ap flour you use, etc.

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Exactly. The average AP flour has a level of protein smack in the middle of cake flour and bread flour. If you want a bit more protein than your AP flour has, you could just as easily use AP and add just a touch of bread flour.

The only other differences with cake flour are that it's chlorinated, has an especially fine grind, and has cornstarch added. As far as I can imagine, none of these things is an advantage in a cookie, unless you're trying to make a very light and fluffy one.

On a related note, you don't want to develop gluten in a cookie, either. Unlike with bread and pasta, the protein content of the flour isn't desireable for its ability to make gluten. It's actually a liability, forcing you to use extra care to avoid gluten development (and the resulting tough texture). The reason you might want higher protein is for its ability to absorb moisture, which helps create a moist, chewy cookie and one that's resistant to drying out.

One of the reasons oatmeal is a popular ingredient in cookies is that it has a very high protein content (higher than bread flour) but produces essentially no gluten. This lets you up the moistness and chewiness without worrying about toughness.

I use some oat flour in my chocolate chip cookies for this purpose... enough to help the texture, but not enough to make them taste like oatmeal cookies.

#158 snowangel

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:20 PM

In a very eG moment, Diana just called and said that yes, the fancy grocery did have the muscovado sugar. She bought the last two bags, and her friends were amused that they had to stop at this market and get sugar. As they said "only your mom would want some sugar that is way expensive, and has an unpronounceable name." Sugar to be delivered tomorrow, and the dough making will commence!

It all in the details, isn't it?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#159 gfron1

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:25 PM

Regarding Paulraphael's recipe, should the dough be brought to room temperature (or close to it) prior to scooping? The recipe simply says that chilled dough will be too stiff for smooth balls, but it doesn't say if the smoothness is desirable.

--Josh

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The way I've dealt with PR's chilling is that I make the dough, pre-chocolate and chill for about 15 minutes (or so) to cool it but not firm it. Then I add the chocolate while its still soft. I re-chill for another half hour (or so) until its starting to firm up, but not so hard to scoop. I scoop, push down, and then do the 3 days of chilling. Freeze, and bake from frozen.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#160 chefpeon

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:30 PM

The way I've dealt with PR's chilling is that I make the dough, pre-chocolate and chill for about 15 minutes (or so) to cool it but not firm it. Then I add the chocolate while its still soft. I re-chill for another half hour (or so) until its starting to firm up, but not so hard to scoop. I scoop, push down, and then do the 3 days of chilling. Freeze, and bake from frozen.


Why all those steps?
Just make the dough and add the chocolate (chips, callets, chunks, whatever), and scoop the dough into balls while soft. Place on sheet pan and either, A)freeze, or B)chill.

Scooping pre-chilled dough is just nuts. Why make it harder than you have to? There is no lost quality if you scoop the dough while soft, THEN chill.

#161 Josho

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 07:53 PM

Why all those steps?
Just make the dough and add the chocolate (chips, callets, chunks, whatever), and scoop the dough into balls while soft. Place on sheet pan and either, A)freeze, or B)chill.

Scooping pre-chilled dough is just nuts. Why make it harder than you have to? There is no lost quality if you scoop the dough while soft, THEN chill.

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I don't know if this jibes with everyone else's experience, but I just made my first batch of PR's cookie dough today (for baking tomorrow), and I found the freshly-made dough possibly too liquid to hold a scoop shape. It might well've needed chilling before it could be successfully scooped.

--Josh

#162 gfron1

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:31 PM

Exactly. There are two issues. One is the liquidity that Josho mentions. The second is that since I'm using nicer chips/callets/discos, they tend to be very heat sensitive. Mine were melting from the lingering warmth of the melted butter. BUT, I didn't want to scoop hard dough. That's why all of my steps. I'm attempting to cool things down a bit, add the chocolate (once its cool enough to not melt the chocolate, but before its too firm to work with), cool a bit more (so its scoopable), then scoop. It sounds far worse than it really is. We're talking seconds of work at each stage while I'm off doing something else.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#163 alanamoana

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:52 PM

Yeah.  I just used "ap baking flour" and they turned out fine the first time. 

I tried them again last night though (new batch), and I had issues.  These cookies didn't spread as much as the first, and ended up cakier and dry.  What gives?

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did you allow the same amount of resting time as the first batch? this will allow the flour to hydrate fully.

#164 gfron1

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 06:17 AM

Of course since I said I haven't had any variance or issues...this morning my cookies spread about 30% more. The only difference in my process was that I baked on parchment instead of silpat. I guess I'll go back to silpat.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#165 MikeHartnett

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 06:21 AM

Well, I tried a little sooner than the first batch, because I vacuum-sealed this time. However, I tried again and waited as long as my first batch, and they still didn't work. I think I may have screwed up the recipe somewhere. I was fairly tired when I made them, and it wouldn't surprise me.

Yeah.  I just used "ap baking flour" and they turned out fine the first time. 

I tried them again last night though (new batch), and I had issues.  These cookies didn't spread as much as the first, and ended up cakier and dry.  What gives?

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did you allow the same amount of resting time as the first batch? this will allow the flour to hydrate fully.

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#166 chefpeon

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 07:11 AM

Exactly. There are two issues. One is the liquidity that Josho mentions. The second is that since I'm using nicer chips/callets/discos, they tend to be very heat sensitive. Mine were melting from the lingering warmth of the melted butter. BUT, I didn't want to scoop hard dough. That's why all of my steps. I'm attempting to cool things down a bit, add the chocolate (once its cool enough to not melt the chocolate, but before its too firm to work with), cool a bit more (so its scoopable), then scoop. It sounds far worse than it really is. We're talking seconds of work at each stage while I'm off doing something else.


Oh yeah. I forgot you're doing the melted butter thing. I used to do that too because my default recipe was the Alton Brown version. I have since found though, that if you use soft butter and DON'T cream it (just mix it with the sugars til smooth), the results are the same, or actually even better. The bonus is that it's scoopable right away, and you can also add the chocolate right away too.

Since I have to make large batches of dough on a 20 qt mixer along with 9 million other bakery items, I don't have time to make a chocolate chip cookie recipe more complicated than it has to be. :wacko:

#167 paulraphael

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 07:22 AM

Exactly. There are two issues. One is thOh yeah. I forgot you're doing the melted butter thing. I used to do that too because my default recipe was the Alton Brown version. I have since found though, that if you use soft butter and DON'T cream it (just mix it with the sugars til smooth), the results are the same, or actually even better. The bonus is that it's scoopable right away, and you can also add the chocolate right away too.


One reason I use melted butter is that it's browned, and I brown it as part of the cookie making process. I'm also making the cookies on a small scale, so I don't have a problem with the burly exercise of scooping the chilled dough.

If I were making them on a commercial scale, I might try browning the butter separately, and keeping a supply in the fridge. Then your idea of making the recipe with softened (and not creamed) brown butter would be more practical. I'm guessing it would work fine, but haven't tried it.

Edited by paulraphael, 25 July 2008 - 07:25 AM.


#168 chefpeon

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 08:12 PM

If I were making them on a commercial scale, I might try browning the butter separately, and keeping a supply in the fridge. Then your idea of making the recipe with softened (and not creamed) brown butter would be more practical. I'm guessing it would work fine, but haven't tried it.


When I was experimenting around at home last weekend, I browned some butter, strained out the burnt bits and let it harden in the fridge. I then brought it back up to room temp, and used it as I would regular butter. When I made my cookie dough I used 50% brown butter and 50% regular butter in the recipe. The flavor was quite nice. I'm glad I didn't use 100% brown butter....it would have made the cookie taste far too rich in my opinion.

I'd love to be able to do this at work, but there's no way I can do it realistically. The brown butter method will just have to be a home thing for now.

#169 paulraphael

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 09:30 PM

I'm glad I didn't use 100% brown butter....it would have made the cookie taste far too rich in my opinion.


Interesting! not my experience at all. I love the depth of the brown butter flavor. In fact, I don't strain the browned solids out. And I'm considering increasing the intensity a bit by adding some nonfat dry milk to the butter when it melts (a Michael Laskonis trick he uses in brown butter recipes).

#170 chefpeon

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 01:23 PM

Interesting! not my experience at all. I love the depth of the brown butter flavor.

Well, I suppose I can't enter an opinion on using 100% brown butter til I actually try it. My opinion was based on the 50% brown butter trial, and it was borderline rich to me then. So I was just assuming 100% may be too rich. Who knows....the richness may not have been attributed to the brown butter at all! :smile:

Of course, we all know there will never be a perfect chocolate chip cookie, since we all have differing views on what makes the said chocolate chip cookie perfect........in my case, I love to substitute a small part of the flour with finely ground oats. There's something about that little textural addition that I just love! :wub:

#171 snowangel

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 07:41 PM

Well, I'm in love. Thank you so much, Paul, for entering your recipe into RecipeGullet.

I followed it to the letter (well, sort of, since drop-in guests prevented me from adding the browned butter to the sugars immediately, and I did use dark muscovado sugar, since that was what was available).

I started by baking just four of them, and made them smaller, and think I over-baked them. Interesting that my first reaction to testing whether they were done was to give them a touch with the index finger. It was hard to tell when they were brown around the edges, since the sugar was so dark, the dough was as well.

But, the second group (this time six of them) seem perfect, and I have vowed to leave at least four of them alone to "age."

What I especially appreciate is the minimal quality of chocolate, and the complexity of the sugar, and the browned butter.

New standard here for chocolate chip cookes (I am not a big chocolate fan, BTW, but loved these).
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#172 paulraphael

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 10:27 AM

I'm so glad you liked them, Snowangel.

So I take it you have a bunch of unbaked batter? I'll be curious to know if you taste much difference in the cookies you bake later ... if you get the improvements suggested by the NYT article.

#173 paulraphael

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 10:40 AM

Philosophical Question of Great Importance: what exactly is a chocolate chip cookie?

Bolstered by positive feedback from fellow egulleters, and by my girlfriend rejecting a Thomas Keller chocolate chip cookie from Bouchon Bakery, claiming to be "spoiled," I wrote a shameless email to David Leite.

Without putting it in so many words, I tried to suggest that the Times publish a Major Retraction of its cookie manifesto, preferably on the front page, including an apology to the public and to world leaders, for omitting my favorite recipe.

Unexpectedly, Mr. Leite wrote back, and not just to tell me to get a life.

He proposed the following:

"I will certainly make your cookies, but I need to state that yours aren't chocolate chip cookies; they're cookies with chocolate chip. And, I'm not splitting hairs. There is a difference...

...they don't fit the parameters of a traditional drop cookie--by definition of ingredients and method. The melted butter (which intrigues me the most), the oat flour, the milk, the non-creaming method speaks of a cookie unto itself."


So I'm wondering if something like a chocolate chip cookie is best defined by a particular ingredient list or methodology, or by a more subjective impression: would people eating it recognize it as a chocolate chip cookie? As a variation? As something completely different?

Thoughts?

Edited by paulraphael, 28 July 2008 - 10:45 AM.


#174 cakewalk

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 11:17 AM

Philosophical Question of Great Importance: what exactly is a chocolate chip cookie?
...
He proposed the following:

"I will certainly make your cookies, but I need to state that yours  aren't chocolate chip cookies; they're cookies with chocolate chip.  And, I'm not splitting hairs. There is a difference...

...they don't fit the parameters of a  traditional drop cookie--by definition of ingredients and method. The  melted butter (which intrigues me the most), the oat flour, the milk,  the non-creaming method speaks of a cookie unto itself."

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It seems to me that Mr. Leite is actually saying that you have invented something new and unique ("a cookie unto itself") and that it calls for a new name. (IOW -- Wow!!!!!)

So my suggestion is this: we begin a naming contest.

And then you can start to think about marketing ...

:smile:

(Really.)

#175 paulraphael

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 11:36 AM

Ha!
I still think it's a just a chocolate chip cookie.

But if there's naming and marketing involved, we should remember that these are American Cookies, so they deserve some corporate sponsorship. How about "Batman Dark Knight Special Edition Summer Blockbuster XTreme Chip" cookies.

#176 gfron1

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 12:46 PM

First of all - don't you dare promote your recipe. I already have customers asking if mine are the NYT version to which I reply, "No, mine are much more complicated and sophisticated in both technique and taste."

Second, just because you're use melted butter does not disqualify them. By that standard we have to remove all sorts of recipes from various desserts. All that will leave us is crap out of a box. If we must, then we'll call Leite's cookies - lazy bastard CCCs, and yours CCCs for people who give a crap. Okay, an over-statement, but I believe that definition to be too artificial and self-serving.

(Okay, I can't let it go that easily). So let's say that any cherry pie that includes tapioca is no longer a cherry pie. Heaven forbid there are fresh cherries instead of canned. Lattice - no - the authentic must be topless. If he wants to say, "A toll house style cookie" v. chocolate chip cookie, then I'll buy that distinction. Now, I'm done.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#177 MikeHartnett

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 01:17 PM

I agree. It seems like the name "Chocolate Chip Cookies" technically includes any cookie with chocolate chips. While one recipe may be more traditionally thought of as being a "Chocolate Chip Cookie," I don't think you can disqualify a different recipe for additions.

#178 jgm

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 03:22 PM

I agree.  It seems like the name "Chocolate Chip Cookies" technically includes any cookie with chocolate chips.  While one recipe may be more traditionally thought of as being a "Chocolate Chip Cookie," I don't think you can disqualify a different recipe for additions.

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I haven't made Paul's recipe yet, although I have found and purchased the muscovado sugar, and plan to do so as soon as the heat breaks enough to make me not feel sick at the mere thought of turning on the oven.

However, I don't know how differing ingredients - especially browned butter vs. whatever, could disqualify a recipe from the generic "chocolate chip cookie" recipe. I could see differentiating Toll House cookies from others, because that's much more specific; it's a recipe born in a specific place at a specific time. And who knows, somebody may be able to come up with an argument that would make me take even that back.

I guess taste will tell. But I still don't understand Mr. Leite's statement about a difference between chocolate chip cookies, and cookies with chocolate chips. :blink:

#179 alanamoana

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 03:46 PM

if i understand correctly, paulraphael's recipe does reduce the amount of chocolate chips because he feels that the dough should shine as the main component.

i'm not overly concerned with technique or ingredients, but i think mr. leite is correct in saying that these are cookies with chocolate (pieces) in them.

but, i'm not one to get into too philosophical a discussion about something like chocolate chip cookies. i just think mr. leite believes that there are categories of cookies out there and paulraphael's cookies might fall into another category based on method and ratio of chocolate pieces to dough.

#180 gfron1

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 08:56 AM

A quick update. I've cut back to just one days aging and have added PaulRaphael's newly suggested powdered milk (updated in RecipeGullet). I found the 2 and 3 day aging were not as important as the browned butter and muscovado, and effected the final appearance in ways that I did not prefer. I think I'm done playing now :biggrin:

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