Friday, August 23, 2013

Best Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Last year I worked at a bakery in California. While I was there I baked a LOT of chocolate chip cookies. The recipe was so good I took it with me to adapt for home use. It's still in grams, which is tricky if you don't have a scale, but I think it's faster to bake with a scale than with cups and spoons so I keep forgetting to convert it. Maybe someday. 

The recipe is pretty standard, with nearly equal parts brown sugar, white sugar, and butter and the usual eggs, flour, leavening, vanilla and chocolate. The most different thing about this recipe is the method. This is a recipe best suited for a stand mixer, and fits easily in a 5 quart mixer bowl (rather than the 60 quart bowl the original recipe requires!)

The method makes a cookie that's crisp on the edge, soft and chewy in the middle, with gooey chocolate chunks in every bite. The chocolate really makes the cookie, so use the nicest you have. My favorites are the dark bar from Trader Joe's or Guittard buttons, either the Lever du Soleil 61% or the French Vanilla. 

 This recipe works best when it's followed exactly. I often just kind of throw things together, but not these. They're the best chocolate chip cookies you'll ever make.


Makes 5 dozen 3 inch cookies

284 g butter, softened but not melty
284 g brown sugar
228 g sugar
6 g baking soda
6 g baking powder
9 g salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
500 g chopped chocolate
480 g all-purpose flour

Combine butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat another minute. 

Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.  Beat until combined. 
Add eggs, mix until combined. 

Scrape and beat for 10 minutes. Yep, 10 minutes at a medium speed. 

Add chocolate and mix until equally distributed. 

Add half the flour, mix until just combined. Stop and scrape down the bowl. Repeat with the other half of the flour. 

Scoop onto a cookie sheet with a #40 scoop, or form balls of dough about 1 1/4" in diameter. I scoop all the cookies at once since they bake best cold. I then throw the cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes while the oven preheats. 

[At this point you can freeze some of the dough solid to bake later, since 5 dozen is a lot of cookies. When you want to bake them, let the cookies sit overnight in the fridge and continue as below.]

Arrange cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet, 12 to a half-sheet pan or 8 to a jelly-roll size pan. Bake 8-11 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn golden. 

Let cool for a few minutes on the pan, then remove to a rack to cool. 

Store in an airtight container for... I'm not sure how long they should last, they've never lasted more than 3 days in my house. 

Decorated Sugar Cookies

This is a really long post, but here's a round-up of the cookies I've done this summer:

I've started a tradition of making cookies for my niece's birthday. Last year she wasn't old enough to have real specific interests, so she got generic tropical cookies for her first birthday in Hawaii. Since then, she has become very attached to her penguin, Beepoo. Beepoo is a fuzzy chinstrap penguin toy that looks kind of like this:

Turns out it was easier to do the eyes first, opposite of what I expected.

Not all of the cookies got sprinkles. The first cookie of any design (much like the first pancake) is often an experiment, or a test of icing consistency and the design, which doesn't always look like I planned. Beepoo looked cute, so I added sprinkles to the others once I was sure I had the design down.

He was surprisingly easy to make in cookie form. I thought he looked especially cute with his crystal sugar "fur"! The cutter for the penguin cookie was a beehive, which I have never used as intended, but is great for other cookies! To go with I made a few jungle animal cookies because she seems to really like animals, from the chickens outside to chatting with Grandma's "doggy" on skype. 

Since her new brother was due just after her birthday I included some baby cookies for Mom and Dad.

The onesie cutter I have is HUGE, so I used a tombstone cutter and trimmed to make a reasonably sized onesie. 

Next year I'll have TWO sets of birthday cookies to send!

Lawnmower cookies. Those aren't words that are seen together often. In fact, when I was looking online for ideas I found exactly TWO pictures of lawnmower cookies, and neither was really what I was looking for. So I went looking for coloring pages. Yep. If you ever need a line drawing of anything, search for coloring pages.  
These cookies were done with 15 second icing (for an explanation, look here) apart from the black. After finishing the base of the cookie, I wish I would have done a pipe and flood with wet-on-wet grass for a smoother look, but these were better that I was expecting. They were a thank-you for someone who helped Katie and I move in June.

For a treat at a family reunion I made mustache cookies on a stick. I thought they would be fun for kids and adults, and they were! I iced the base with 15 second icing and used slightly thicker icing to add the texture on top in layers.  I don't own any mustache cutters so I had to get creative. Do you recognize any of the shapes?

They are, clockwise from the top right: butterfly, letter Y, a hand cut mustache (too much work, so I only did one!) a small scallop shell, Tinkerbell wings, and a trimmed moon

These are some of the cutters I used for mustaches. You don't need a specific cutter 
for everything, make your cutters do double (or triple!) duty

The cookies were a hit, and I would definitely do them again!

I made cookies for Katie to take to California. Some were Alice in Wonderland themed for her to take to Girl's Camp. 

I also sent cookies for Jonathan's birthday, even though they were a few weeks late. 

I went to a church pool party last month and decided to bring cookies! (cookies are appropriate for any occasion, right?) I was inspired by these towels from Crate & Barrel  (I got them last year, before everything I saw was mentally cookie-fied)

Cookie inspiration can come from anywhere!

Since 4th of July had come and gone I decided to go with bright tropical colors, but kept the ombre from the tea towel. I'd recently been working on a quilt with shades of these colors (including the aqua dot in the background, so cute!)

The twin pop idea came from Sweet Sugar Belle, and was cut from a cowboy hat cutter. The single pop was a fire hydrant and the tri-color pops were cut with a mega-phone cutter. I bought mini popsicle sticks to put in them at the craft store. Next time I'll soak the sticks so they burn less (oops!)

They're not perfect, but I'm still learning (a lot!) as I go. I'm also building back the strength in my right hand, which was severely injured a few years ago. I still have problems with my handwriting if I pipe for too long, but it's getting better.

I've been loving pink and coral lipsticks this summer, and these look like great colors for makeup

These aren't my favorite colors, but they're sure fun for a summer platter

This is what happens when your piping tip isn't completely dry.
Learn something new every day!

Last month was my mom's birthday. Even though she lives far away (all the way in California!) I made her birthday cookies. When I think of my mom I think of flowers, so I made pink and purple flowers. I don't have very many flower shaped cutters, so I made butterflies to match.

Since I'd just sent vanilla-almond cookies for Jonathan's birthday I decided to change things up and send lemon-poppyseed sugar cookies with lemon flavored icing for Mom. The cookies have lemon oil, lemon zest, and poppy seeds in the dough. I added strained lemon juice and extract to the icing.

Dear Mother, all flowers remind me of you
The cookies bake up just as sturdy, soft, and delicious as the vanilla-almond cookies. I'm excited to try different flavor combinations for different occasions!