Monday, April 26, 2010

The Cookie Competition

Rachel here: I have made these cookies a million times. They are my go-to "Oops! We're supposed to bring dessert tonight" recipe, both for their ease and their reliably awesome turn-out. This time, however, I made them for our birthing class. For some reason, bringing food for this bevy of pregnant ladies over the past three weekends has left me feeling a bit more pressure than I usually do when I cook. I think, perhaps, it's an underlying fear of somehow exposing myself as a bad mom or something by not bringing an appropriate food item. When I was assigned to bring dessert for our final class, I didn't think twice about what I would make. I knew I would make this foolproof recipe from "The Best Recipe" by Cook's Illustrated.

During our lunch break, I had one of the most satisfying cooking related experiences of my entire life. While John and I sat and ate, multiple people bit into their chocolate chip walnut cookies and announced that these cookies were amazing. The woman sitting next to me and her husband said that they think these are the best homemade chocolate chip cookies they've ever had. Now all I did was follow a darn good recipe, but it still felt super good. It felt so good, in fact, that I felt a little bit bad for the other woman who brought cookies. Don't worry, though, ever the altruistic eater, I dutifully ate her (quite yummy) ginger cookies.

Anyway, seriously: make these cookies. Though certain people that I blog with bake in whatever order they please, I can only assume that the success behind these cookies lies in following the various steps and combinations as they are detailed in the recipe. I have adapted the recipe ever so slightly and share my version below. I should warn you, though. If, as I did, you are going to bake these cookies for an event, leave a few at home. There won't be any leftover for you to enjoy late night if you don't and, trust me, this is tragic.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen

2 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 tspn. baking soda
1/2 tspn. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
1 c. brown sugar, packed (*TIP: Pour out 1 1/2 times the amount of brown sugar that you need--in this case that would be 1 1/2 c.--and this should get you very close to the right amount once it's packed*)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tspn. vanilla extract
1+ c. bittersweet chocolate chips
1 c. toasted walnuts, broken/chopped

preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the melted butter with the two sugars until thoroughly blended (make sure to break down all sugar lumps at this point). Add the egg, the extra yolk and the vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chips and walnuts. Pull 1 to 2 T. chunks off and place on cookie sheet, leaving in rough ball form. Bake--rotating half way--for roughly 15 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown. Cool and enjoy.

Janet here:
Yeah, so apparently this week's decision to make cookies wasn't about merely making cookies; it was about "winning" the cookie bake-off. Guess I didn't get that memo.

Anyway, while I can't claim that my cookies are THE.BEST.COOKIES.EVER. the way some people are, I can tell you that these, which were adapted from Salty Sweets, are mighty fine and that people will enjoy them. Christie Matheson includes coconut, but I hate coconut so it's not in my version. So without further ado....the completely adequate "other" cookie recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulatedsugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
grinder sea salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the flour, coca powder, baking soda and fine sea salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until creamy. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing thoroughly each time. After this is all mixed up, add the oats and chips.

Spoon onto a baking pan. Add a few sprinkles of salt to each scoop on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

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