I am not shy about saying that I am a good cook. But I have never made ANY claims about my baking ability except to say that I did not inherit my Mom’s amazing baking talent, nor her love for baking. Although, funnily enough, the one item my Mom never felt she did well was pie crust – and the two times I made pies, the crust came out perfect… She always said she missed getting HER Mom’s fantastic Pie crust making gene. I guess I got it. However, those two times may have been flukes of good luck… Someday I’ll try pie crust again.
BUT, I made some really super chocolate chip cookies yesterday. I was truly amazed. I made some a few months ago and they were decent, but too crunchy. I have a terrible habit of leaving cookies and other baked goods in the oven to long because they don’t look done to me. I need to remember that, like meat, they keep cooking after being removed from the oven!
WELL, this time, I took them out before I thought they were done. Voila! That’s the trick I have to remember when baking! Also, here is what I did. I went on the Internet to look for tips and incorporated a few while using the standard Nestle’s Toll House cookie recipe.
First – and this probably has nothing to do with it – I needed more cookies than one batch would make and not enough of ingredients to double the recipe, so I just increased all the ingredients by 50%. Good thing, too, otherwise my mixing bowl would have been overflowing!
I let the eggs and butter come to room temperature (1 1/2 hours, I believe). Then, I melted the butter, being careful not to burn it, and let it cool a bit while still keeping it in liquid state before using in the recipe.
First, I measured and stirred to mix the flour, baking soda, and salt into a smaller bowl.
Then, I measured out the white and brown sugar and mixed them together with my hands in a big mixing bowl so I could use my fingers to break down as many lumps as possible in the brown sugar. (I had light brown sugar on hand that had not formed into the proverbial block, but it was a little lumpy.)
Then, I quickly added the vanilla (I used double the amount proportion than called for) to the somewhat cooled melted butter and poured the butter into the sugar mixture. Using a hand electric mixer (a stationary would have been easier, I am sure!) mixed/beat the sugars and butter until creamy.
After being absolutely certain the mixture was not at all warm anymore from the butter, I added one egg at a time, thoroughly mixing/beating each one in before adding the next.
Then I gradually added the flour mixture while still using the electric mixer. WELL, the poor mixture started getting bogged down towards the end because the batter was REALLY thick! Rather than risk burning out the motor, I used a fork to briskly mix/beat in the rest of the flour. (I doubt that made a difference – most folks probably have better electric mixers!)
I hand stirred in the chocolate chips – didn’t use nuts.
THEN – I covered the bowl of dough and stuck it in the fridge for about 4 hours. When I took it out (after pre-heating the oven to 375) it was REALLY stiff – almost hard. I was a bit apprehensive. But, it was really easy to work with. Well, a little tough spooning it out, but it didn’t stick to everything. I am trying to remember/think of a way to describe how much dough I used for each cookie…I was even going to weigh a few to be exact! But, I didn’t… I guess a heaping Tablespoon amount… The dough made 4 dozen for the coffeehouse (why the heck else to you think I was baking? You think I’d bake without someone saying they REALLY needed more cookies for a concert show? ) and ten more cookies for my husband. So 58 – well, actually 59 because one of them (being so soft when just out of the over, drooped over the edge of the cooling rack and was so disfigured that I had to eat it immediately to hide the evidence of my coordination blunder.
I cooked the cookies for about 9 or 10 minutes, took them out and let them sit on the tray for 2 minutes (yes, I used a timer for this part, too) then removed them to the cooling racks.
And, they came out GREAT! Chewy and all but definitely done. I think that melting the butter and chilling the dough thoroughly really made a difference. Also, rinsing the baking trays with cold water before reusing.
Here is the link I found with all the great tips – of which I only used a few:
If you read this at some later date than when I posted it and the link doesn’t work, email me because I have the article saved to a file.
Now I am off to experiment with a braised lamb recipe… shoulder blade chops. If it comes out well, I might use it for Easter. Now, that will be a whole other story as I get ready to host a family holiday gathering for the first time! I’ve done parties and all and cooking for a crowd, but this is the first time I will have done a HOLIDAY thing.
Anyway – happy baking if you are inspired to try out the toll house cookie tips!