Chips or ChunksAugust 21, 2009
Photo by Kim Goddard
I overdosed on sugar this week big time. I have been on a baking frenzy testing recipes for a cookbook I am writing. In 6 days Robyn, my pastry cohort, and I tested 32 recipes. Talk about a sugar rush. All this sugar has gotten me thinking. If I were on a dessert island what desserts would I want? What couldn’t I live without? What do I dream about even after a day of intense baking? (Yes, I know there are no desserts on desert islands. This is hypothetical, a litmus test to see what desserts are really my favorites.) Chocolate chip cookies would certainly be on the list.
One of the big discussions between chocolate chip cookie lovers is- Are chocolate chips or chocolate chunks better? (Even if it has chocolate chunks in it I still call it a chocolate chip cookie.) Using one or the other makes different cookies. The former gives small bites of chocolate even if you put more in. They still feel and taste small. This is good for small cookies.
Chocolate chunks give you much more of a chocolate hit when you take a bite. If you have chopped the chunks off a big block of chocolate then you also get the smaller slivers of chocolate in between bites that have chunks. These are real chocoholic chocolate chip cookies.
There are numerous brands of chocolate chips on the market. The chocolate is the main flavor of the cookie, so don’t skimp on quality. Pick a chocolate chip that you think tastes great. Go to the store and buy as many kinds as you can and try them all. (It’s a rough job but someone has to do it.) For the big brands, my favorites are Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips and Guittard Double Chocolate or 63%. I prefer bittersweet over semisweet as it has more flavor. (The exception to this is Scharffen Berger semisweet. It tastes like bittersweet.)
Some companies have even started making chocolate chunks or bigger chips so you don’t have to chop your own. If you chop your own chocolate into chunks your options are greater- E. Guittard, Lindt, Valrhona, El Rey, Scharffen Berger, TCHO and Green & Black’s. Go to the Chocosphere website and you will find these chocolates and other chocolate jewels like Amedei, Felchlin, and Michel Cluizel. Although these last three are not normally used in chocolate chip cookies why not?
Here’s a recipe for chocolate chip cookies to hold you over until you get to the desert island where fresh chocolate chip cookies will be waiting for you.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 36 cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly add the brown sugars and again beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, distributing them evenly.
To shape each cookie, using a spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop up a spoonful of the dough and roll between your palms into a 1 1/2-inch ball or smaller if you wish. As the balls are formed, place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart for the big cookies. If you want the baked cookies to be taller, refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. If you don’t mind them a little flatter, you can bake them right away.
Bake until golden brown, about 14 minutes for the larger cookies. At the midway point, switch the pans between the racks and rotate them 180 degrees to ensure even baking. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes. You may then transfer them to wire racks or leave then on the pans to cool further.