Yesterday I figured out what the real joy of baking is…it’s having the time to bake! I mean who knew that in 2012 people would no longer have the freaking time to bake. Forget “Big Brother” we don’t have time for the simplicities of life. Back to baking. I bake at least twice a week. If you’ve kept up with this blog for while you’ll know that Kit and I worked through the “Great Bread Conundrum of 2011”. Basically it was a year we spent trying to ween our children off of store-bought bread with either homemade bread or a natural foods alternative. We both came up with different solutions that work for our families. My solution is to make my dough in a bread machine and then bake it in an oven. I make it twice a week and turn out a nice loaf without all the fillers inside. The kids actually like and prefer it to store-bought. I also make pizza dough, buns and french bread on occasion. So I bake, but it is done efficiently and purposefully, which kind of takes the joy out of it.
So yesterday I decided to bake cookies. My two oldest weren’t due home until later so I had a little breathing room to do some extra baking. My people love chocolate chip cookies. It makes their entire weekend when I make a batch. Personally I’m not a big fan. I don’t really like chocolate. I can feel the shock and dismay reaching throughout blogland right now. I know… I’m a woman that doesn’t like chocolate, weird. My favorite cookie is the one at the end of the bowl that because of some law of physics has no chips in it. My children know to save this chipless cookie for me. I always use the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip bag. It’s really perfect and I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. But yesterday I tried something a little different.
I like many of the recipes created by America’s Test Kitchen i.e. Cooking Illustrated i.e. Baking Illustrated. Their techniques while a bit fussy are mostly spot on. In fact it’s their American Sandwich Bread recipe that I make most weeks. Well I had downloaded the Cooking Illustrated App for my iPhone and while many of the recipes were blocked as “Members Only Recipes” one was not–Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. This recipe read much like my tried and true Nestle recipe but with one intriguing difference. Instead of two sticks of room temperature butter they cooked ten tablespoons of the butter until it had a nutty aroma and turned dark golden brown. AHA! Now the joy comes in. So I thought I’ll tweak it, what do I have to lose? I started the cookie making with the help of two eager children. They love to crack those eggs. I heated the butter swirling, swirling, waiting, swirling and then just like magic it changed. We added it to the sugars then whisked. It looked different from my regular cookie dough but still good. We scooped, baked and tasted the newly revised chocolate chip cookies and guess what– they were good!
The melted butter changed the dough ever so slightly. Instead of it just being the glue that holds the chocolate chips together it had its own presence. Viva la Cookie Dough! My favorite part of the cookie had just been enhanced. It was good and joyful and all the things that they talk about in baker’s forums. In my elated consumption of the chipless cookie I decided that change is good, baking is good and that having just enough time to bake a batch of cookies is very good indeed.
Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Whisk four and baking soda together and set aside.
Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma (if you don’t swirl it starts getting frothy, so swirl)
Remove skillet from heat and using a heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large bowl. Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until completely melted.
Add both sugars and vanilla to butter and whisk until full incorporated. Add eggs one at a time and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remain. Whisk 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes. Then whisk for 30 more seconds. Repeat the process 2 more times unite mixture is thick and smooth and shiny (I did this in my Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment).
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon stir in four mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Scoop out cookie sized balls and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart (I won’t tell if they’re 1.5 inches apart).
Bake for 10-14 minutes until cookies are still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (I baked for 10 minutes). Transfer to wire rack to cool completely (No way! Eat them while they’re warm but don’t burn your mouth).