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Kerry Beal

Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Bake-Off III

207 posts in this topic

I made the Chewy and it was quite tasty.  I did find it a tad greasy.  Do any of you Plugra-users adjust the amount of butter to compensate for the higher butterfat content?

I have been making the traditional Toll House recipe with Plugra butter. It makes a big difference. In what way? Crunchy and chewy at the same time. Also, very consistent. My daughter and her friends said they were the best ever. I had read so much that using high-fat butter made baked goods better and have to agree.

I followed the recipe exactly but with the addition of an extra 1/4 teaspoon salt to compensate for the lack of salt in the butter (1/8 ts per stick).

I am going to try some of the recipes posted here next time.

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What I meant to say is that if Plugra helps the basic recipe I'm sure it will work well in the other ones.

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These were the last chocolate chip cookies that I made. They're from Dorie Greenspan's latest baking book:

gallery_29268_3740_368460.jpg

I tried this bake-off on my own ~2 years ago and got pretty much no where with my search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe...except sick of chocolate chip cookies! Through that process, I did realize that I'm a purist when it comes to the chocolate chip cookie. I believe it should be the usual butter/sugar/egg/flour base with chocolate chips added in. No nuts, no dried fruit, no cocoa/chocolate cookie batter.

I decided this morning to compare a few of the mentioned recipes. It appears as though the Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Amanda Hesser's Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mrs.Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tyler Florence's Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies all appear to be a variation (i.e. +/- a Tbsp of this or a 1/2 cup of that) on the following list of ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda (some also add 1 tsp of baking powder)

1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter

~1.5-2 cups of some sugar combination (either half white and half brown or something in between)

2 eggs

~1 tsp vanilla extract (some add up to 1 Tbsp)

1-2 cups of chocolate chips/chunks

Having made Dorie's and feeling that this is probably pretty representative of the above recipe and variations thereof, I embark to try the others: Alton Brown's Chewy, the Pudding cookie and the mythical Neiman Marcus cookie recipe. I'll probably try Tejon's recipe as well. If I'm not totally chocolate chip cookie'd out, I may bake off the CI's version as well. Quickly reading the CI's recipe instructions, I'm confused already! Does it make that much difference in the cookie's texture to rip and rotate 90 degrees?!

Did anyone else notice that the Neiman Marcus recipe that's on their website is not the same one that's circulating the web? Looky here:

http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/service/...ie_recipe.jhtml

vs.

http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/cookie.asp

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I made Dorie Greenspan's chocolate chip cookies from her latest book as well, and I like them better than Alton Brown's The Chewy. Better flavour.

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I decided this morning to compare a few of the mentioned recipes.  It appears as though the Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Amanda Hesser's Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mrs.Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tyler Florence's Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies all appear to be a variation (i.e. +/- a Tbsp of this or a 1/2 cup of that) on the following list of ingredients ...

are the methodologies all similar as well (creaming the butter and sugar, oven temp, etc.)?

i look forward to hearing about your results.

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are the methodologies all similar as well (creaming the butter and sugar, oven temp, etc.)?

i look forward to hearing about your results.

As far as I can remember, yes, the instructions are all pretty similar. The only thing that changes a bit is the baking temperature which fluctuated between 325-375 degrees. I believe most had a baking time of ~10-16 minutes. I think it depends on the author's decision on how many cookies he/she wanted their recipe to make. Smaller cookies=lower baking temperature/time. Just my guess. I find the whole baking time/temperature that an author gives in their recipe a suggestion anyways. I always lower the oven temperature from what the recipe says and keep a close eye on them.

The Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chip cookie recipe just seemed to have halved the recipe I mentioned in the previous post.

Today, I'm going to try to make the dough for Alton's chewy and the Neiman Marcus cookie. I'll report back soon.

As an aside, Kerry, I'm really having fun with these bake-offs. Thanks so much for getting them started for us!

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For those of you that are interested, I thought I would provide a link for all the purely chocolate chip cookie recipes (i.e. butter/flour-oats/sugar base with chips and sometimes nuts added in) mentioned throughout this thread so you could compare for yourselves:

Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies

http://wordstoeatby.blogspot.com/2004/12/b...ip-cookies.html

Neiman Marcus Cookies (possibly!)

http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/cookie.asp

Mrs. Field's Cookies (I'm not sure if this link is going to work or not for you)

http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/recipedeta...yes&id=69&page=

...if not just go to www.topsecretrecipes.com and search for it.

Nestle Toll House Cookies

http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/detail.aspx?ID=18476

Tyler Florence Big, Fat Cookies

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_22207,00.html

Alton Brown's The Chewy

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_13617,00.html

Amanda Hesser's Cookies

http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_wedne...a_hessers_.html

The Pudding Recipe:

http://recipes.egullet.org/recipes/r242.html

Tejon's Cookies:

http://recipes.egullet.org/recipes/r1976.html

I can PM someone if they want Dorie's and the CI's recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Whew! I think I got them all?

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I'll stop after this, I promise! I just remembered that someone in a post in this thread mentioned Martha's chocolate chip cookie bake-off. I searched her site and found this:

http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/m...sc=taxonomylist

Hopefully, this link works. Jacques uses bread and pastry flour with his recipe. I might have to bake this cookie just to see if it makes a big difference.

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Sugar Plum,

Wow, this is great to have all the links in one place. Thank you!


Aria in Oregon

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Curious that Jacques mixes almost equal amounts pastry and bread flower. Isn't that a bit like making all purpose flower? Thoughts from the pastry geniuses?

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Curious that Jacques mixes almost equal amounts pastry and bread flower. Isn't that a bit like making all purpose flower? Thoughts from the pastry geniuses?

I'm not a pastry genius, but I think equal amounts of pastry and bread flour would get you a flour with a slightly higher protein content than most all-purpose flours.

Sugar Plum, would you please PM me Dorie's recipe?

I made the Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies again, and whilst I achieved the right texture this time minus the greasiness of my first attempt, I think they are horrifyingly sweet.

Any ideas on how to fix this?

PS My little brother wants me to make the cookies again minus the chocolate. :blink:


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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I agree - the sugar is way too high in proportion to the other ingredients. How about just reducing each sugar by about 2 Tbsp?

Here's a really good recipe if you're looking to try another:

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:tJSfV...clnk&cd=2&gl=us

Thanks, Merstar! I'll try this recipe next.

Sugar Plum, I bet you'd be interested in this recipe. It's just half cup butter to 2.25 cups flour.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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I agree - the sugar is way too high in proportion to the other ingredients. How about just reducing each sugar by about 2 Tbsp?

Here's a really good recipe if you're looking to try another:

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:tJSfV...clnk&cd=2&gl=us

Thanks, Merstar! I'll try this recipe next.

Sugar Plum, I bet you'd be interested in this recipe. It's just half cup butter to 2.25 cups flour.

You're welcome! Oh, and here's one I tried recently. It's the best chocolate based chocolate chip cookie recipe I've tried so far - totally decadent!

Chocolate Espresso Chews:

http://www.finerkitchens.com/swap/forum1/5...akin_incredible


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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Curious that Jacques mixes almost equal amounts pastry and bread flower. Isn't that a bit like making all purpose flower?

It would seem so. Wikipedia gives the following values for flour protein content:

9-10% Pastry Flour

10-11.5% All-Purpose Flour

11-13% Bread Flour

If those values are correct, then a 50/50 mixture of pastry and bread flour would have between 10 and 11.5% protein, exactly the range given for AP flour. Since pastry flour is made from soft wheat, bread flour from hard wheat, and AP flour from a mixture of both, mixing pastry and bread flour is just like making AP flour.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Thanks, Merstar! I'll try this recipe next.

Sugar Plum, I bet you'd be interested in this recipe. It's just half cup butter to 2.25 cups flour.

Yes, I noticed that right away...only a 1/2 cup of fat in the whole recipe. Wonder if that's why they are called chewy?? I'd like to say I'd try them but right now up up to me eyeballs in chocolate chip cookie recipes!

Onto the Alton Brown bread flour debate, I found this on the internet:

http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season3/Coo...eTranscript.htm

I didn't realize he had such a following. Anways, if you scroll down you'll see this explanation for the bread flour as well as other ingredients that add to his cookie's chewiness:

"...The water from the melted butter will combine during agitation with the higher protein of the bread flour therefore producing gluten ... which is chewy. Also, since bread flour can absorb much more liquid than all purpose flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie."

and

"...Add the now melted butter to the mixing bowl and add a quarter cup of white sugar and a quarter cup of brown sugar plus a whole cup of brown sugar. And I should mention that, the darker the sugar you use the chewier the cookies are going to be. Why?...Brown sugar is coated in molasses....Molasses loves moisture. By increasing the amount of brown sugar the finished cookies are guaranteed to attract H2O from the air keeping them moist and chewy!"

finally

"...It's got to do with egg whites. You see, egg whites dry out baked goods. That's kind of what they do. And a chewy cookie has got to be moist. So not only are we going to get rid of one egg white, we're actually going to add an ounce, two tablespoons, of milk and of course our teaspoon and a half of vanilla. As soon as that is integrated, we can go with the dry stuff."

I'm baking his cookie dough tonight. I've read in this thread that others have found it greasy. I'm hoping I don't have the same result. Greasy is not what I'm looking for in an ultimate chocolate chip cookie!

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Thanks, Merstar! I'll try this recipe next.

Sugar Plum, I bet you'd be interested in this recipe. It's just half cup butter to 2.25 cups flour.

Yes, I noticed that right away...only a 1/2 cup of fat in the whole recipe. Wonder if that's why they are called chewy??

Yes, the lower amount of fat is definitely the main reason they're chewy. They're crispy on the edges and chewy in the centers. Also, the 375 F temperature helps keep them chewy in the centers, as opposed to some recipes that call for a lower temperature.


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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I've found that simply omitting an egg from the basic Nestle Tollhouse recipe makes a very good, chewy cookie. I also use 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white instead of 3/4 cup of each.

OR

THIS is an excellent recipe that I found on the back of a bag of Gold Medal Flour. I had previously combined the Alton Brown recipe with the Cook's Illustrated recipe and settled on something very similar to this as my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie. It had one more egg. (1 egg + 1 yolk = 3 eggs when doubled with no wasted egg whites--I know it's not really the same but the results were still good.) However, recently I started getting cakier cookies from this recipe and one day realised that my usual brand of large eggs were much larger than another brand's large eggs. I dropped one egg and voila!! Perfect cookies again. Then I found this recipe on my bag of flour and low-and-behold, it was exactly the same except that I use more brown sugar than white and less chocolate chips.


Edited by shaloop (log)

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I've found that simply omitting an egg from the basic Nestle Tollhouse recipe makes a very good, chewy cookie.  I also use 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white instead of 3/4 cup of each.           

Interesting.

I always thought that more eggs--or at least more egg whites--gets you a chewier cookie, and that less eggs would get you a crumblier one--like shortbread.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Curious that Jacques mixes almost equal amounts pastry and bread flower. Isn't that a bit like making all purpose flower?

It would seem so. Wikipedia gives the following values for flour protein content:

9-10% Pastry Flour

10-11.5% All-Purpose Flour

11-13% Bread Flour

If those values are correct, then a 50/50 mixture of pastry and bread flour would have between 10 and 11.5% protein, exactly the range given for AP flour. Since pastry flour is made from soft wheat, bread flour from hard wheat, and AP flour from a mixture of both, mixing pastry and bread flour is just like making AP flour.

Protein content is also different depending on which country you're in. Canada's flours usually have a higher protein content than US flours and I think Europe is different again.


Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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My first two recipes in this bake-off were the Neiman Marcus vs. Alton Brown's “Chewy” chocolate chip cookies.

The Neiman Marcus:

gallery_29268_4918_10605.jpg

…and Alton’s “Chewy”:

gallery_29268_4918_1453113.jpg

In my opinion the Alton Brown recipe wasn't as greasy as others have said; however, they also weren’t as chewy as he claims. I feel that the Neiman Marcus had an unfair advantage with the extra grated chocolate in its recipe. The blended oats did give it that chewiness that Alton's bread flour did not. I didn't like the extra "puffiness" that the Neiman Marcus cookie had (thanks be to the baking powder). If I had to pick between these two cookie recipes and nothing else, I'd go with the Neiman Marcus minus the baking powder and grated chocolate (what a pain to do!).

Alton’s was good but not great. Probably no different than the average chocolate chip cookie recipe. Definitely not worth going out and buying bread flour every time I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies (not a flour I keep around the house).

I think I’m going to try the pudding and CI chocolate chip cookie recipes next.

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I have been tweaking my ccc recipe for the past few years. I believe it started with the Mrs. Field's (or was it Neiman-Marcus?) recipe that called for grinding rolled oats in a blender to make a coarse oat flour. I altered the leavenings, brown to white sugar ratio, and a few other things until I had what I thought was the best ccc I could make. It is slightly crunchy on the edges, chewy in the middle, but not at all doughy or greasy.

I have found that the stiffness of the final batter, which varies due to the temperature of the ingredients and the room as well as hydration of flour, etc., is a big factor. If the dough is too loose there is too much spread and I get lacy cookies that are too crunchy. If it is too stiff or cold (say if I leave the dough in the fridge overnight), then the cookies are too tall and undercooked in the middle. Too stiff is better than too loose, and if I refrigerate the dough I compensate by reducing the oven temperature by 50 degrees. If the dough seems too stiff after mixing I add a little extra liquid (Kahlua, usually).

I made some yesterday and brought them to work with the intention of taking pictures in the good light provided by my office window, but when I went into the kitchen to retrieve a couple cookies, they had all disappeared.

Anyway, here's the recipe, and I'll try to get photos from the next batch.

Darcie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, 67-70 degrees F

9.5 ounces (1 1/3 cup) packed light brown sugar

4.7 ounces (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

2 medium eggs (If using large eggs, reserve 1 white)

1 tablespoon +/- Kahlua

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

10.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole rolled oats, ground to coarse flour in food processor or blender

4.5 ounces (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour (I like Pillsbury best)

6 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips (I usually use 7 ounces but 6 is conveniently sized)

1/2 cup Mini M&Ms (optional but I like 'em)

Preheat oven to 375 (or 350 convection). Mix butter and sugar with mixer until well blended and a bit aerated (I usually only go 2 minutes at most). Add eggs, Kahlua, vanilla, salt and leavenings and mix until well blended (I hate trying to blend dry ingredients together!). Add rolled oats and mix until uniformly distributed; add flour and mix until blended. Check stiffness of dough and add more Kahlua and/or reserved egg white if it seems too stiff or flour if it seems too loose. When the mixer stops, the dough should hold its shape and not slump at all. However, the dough should be very sticky and not at all dry. Stir in chocolate chips and M&Ms if using.

Measure out approximately 1 large tablespoon dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet. I use a #40 disher (at least I think that is the # - I'll double check). Bake until edges are dark gold and center is light gold. Cool in pans for a few minutes then cool on wire rack as long as you can resist.

I don't know if I should include this recipe in Recipe Gullet - I'd like feedback first.

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I have found that the stiffness of the final batter, which varies due to the temperature of the ingredients and the room as well as hydration of flour, etc., is a big factor. If the dough is too loose there is too much spread and I get lacy cookies that are too crunchy. If it is too stiff or cold (say if I leave the dough in the fridge overnight), then the cookies are too tall and undercooked in the middle

I've suspected some of this. It seems that there's a lot of batch to batch variation in cookies that must be based on variables that we're not controlling (this is cookie baking, not analytical chemistry ... right??)

I've had identical recipes turn out differently two days in a row, so I can only assume this can influence our comparison of recipes. We might think we're comparing recipes when we're really comparing relative humidity, or karma.

I especially wonder about this when people declare a particular recipe "bland" compared with another, when the ingredients are the same and the proportions extremely close.

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