Monday, July 2, 2007

Tattoos, Piercings and Chocolate-Chip Cookies


This story is about how i finally increased my Chocolate-Chip Cookie IQ, thanks to a teenage girl's obsession with self-mutilation, and the New York Times magazine. The girl in question being my employer's daughter, her name was changed to preserve her privacy... and my job!

One afternoon, Rebecca visited me in the kitchen all excited, and said:

-"Guess what!!?"

-"Oh Oh, What are you up to?" I asked hesitantly.

-"I got my nose pierced today!" she proudly said, pulling up the tip of her nose for me to see.
(For the cooks out there, looks just like a trussed chicken!)

-"Waou, Does your mom knows?" I asked, worried.

-"Of course not!!...shhhhh...Secret!" she said.

"I'm in such pain!... Can we bake some chocolate-chip cookies pleaaaaase?" (Here's the red flag: translated in private Chef language "Can we bake?" usually means "Can i trash your kitchen while you clean up after me?")

-"Ummm, let me think about it!" i answered.

I knew i needed to brush-up on my Chocolate-Chip cookies skills, she needed something comforting after a gruesome afternoon of self-sacrifice.

-"Ok, I'll make the cookies!" i finally said "but you go back to your room and hide from your parents, deal?"

-"Yea, Awesome!!" she exclaimed in true teenager fashion and left the room.

Chocolate-Chip Cookies have never been my area of expertise. Call me picky (or dumb) but after experimenting with countless recipes, I never found one worth calling my own.

If i trust my Chocolate-Chip Cookies instinct, they should be gooey in the center, golden and crisp on the edges, exhume heavenly Chocolatiness and transcend you to imaginary Cookiedoms where chocolate rivers flow in a land where the Constitution is based on principles taught in the Kama-Sutra.

Well, maybe i exaggerate a little, but you get my point.

More often than not, my batches would end up disappointingly flat, crumbly and dry. But my luck was about to change...

A few days prior to this, The Sunday New York Times published an article by Amanda Hesser with three glorious Chocolate-Chip cookies recipes:


  • Thin-and-Crisp Chocolate-Chip Cookies

  • Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies

  • Thick-and-Gooey Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Why those particular recipes grabbed my attention out of Zillions of recipes available on the subject?

Well let's put it this way... As a rule, any recipe with such large amounts of butter and chocolate
automatically wins a top spot on my To Do list.

I pulled the saved article from my secret file and opted for the most decadent recipe of all:

Thick-and-Gooey Chocolate-Chip Cookies
















1. Preheat the oven to 350' degrees. Line two Baking Sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In a
Mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at the time, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts. Chill the dough.

3. Roll 1/4-cup lump of dough into balls, then place on the baking sheet and flatten to 1/2-inch-thick disks spaced 2 inches apart. Chill the dough between batches. Bake until the edges turn golden, 14 to 17 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack. Makes 30 cookies.


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The results were phenomenal, and extremely addictive!
By far, the best batch i ever made. They had all the qualities cited above, gooey center, crisp and golden edges, melted chocolate goodness inside....a dream!

Rebecca had her cookies still warm and loved them so much that she almost forgot about her infected nose. By next morning, all that was left was a few crumbs on a plate and a sick child at home (surprisingly not from the 2 dozens cookies she ate, but from an unappetizing swelling nose) .

Two weeks later (after being grounded for a week) , Rebecca came home with a tattoo on the back of her neck.

I love Teenagers!... hehehe...So much tenacity!

This time, she wanted to celebrate her new found freedom. I volunteered and made recipe number two:

Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 8 ounces butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (chunks and shavings)

  • 2 cups chopped toasted walnuts (optional).
  1. Preheat the oven to 325' degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

  2. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts. Chill the dough.

  3. Roll 2 1/2-tablespoon lumps of dough into balls, then place on the baking sheet and flatten to 1/2-inch-thick disks spaced 2 inches apart. Chill the dough between batches. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack. Makes 30 to 35 cookies.

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Again it was a huge success. Which recipe is better i honestly don't know. While it is true that Chocolate-chip cookies tend to spark the kind of tense debate usually reserved for topics like religion and politics, i do believe that this three recipes will suit the three schools of chocolate-chip cookiness.

As of this post, i am still waiting for Rebecca's next bout of self-mutilation to try recipe number three. I am sharing it with you, please let me know what you think:

Thin-and-Crisp Chocolate-Chip Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 14 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (pea size pieces and shavings)
  • Generous 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional).
  1. Preheat oven to 325' degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, sugars and corn syrup until fluffy, 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then the milk. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend just until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts. Chill the dough.
  3. Roll 2-tablespoon lumps of dough into balls, then place on the baking sheet and flatten to 1/4-inch-thick disks spaced 2 inches apart. Chill the dough between batches. Bake until the edges are dark golden brown, 14 to 17 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack. Makes 24 cookies.

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Thanks to Amanda Hesser of the New York Times I am now considered a Chocolate-chip Cookie Czar! ( Disclaimer: This is the last time i acknowledge publicly i didn't invent those recipes