way better cookies . . .
The last three times I made chocolate chip cookies, I failed. That is, I was going for thin, crispy delicious cookies. And the recipe I followed on the Nestle’s toll house chocolate chips bag turned out lumpy and stout, stiff cake-like cookies. At first, I thought it was the turbinado sugar I was using so I got some white granulated sugar from a neighbor across the street. I read more recipes to try to understand what ingredients might result in a thin, crisp cookie. Martha Stewart’s thin cookie recipe called for adding a bit of water to the dough once it was mixed. Another specified aluminum-free baking powder. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Then, there were recipes that called for only baking soda and no baking powder at all.
Add to this motley group of instructions my disappointment in discovering that one of the beaters to my portable mixer would not seat properly into the mixer and rattled loudly against the bottom of the glass mixing bowl. So, I mixed up the last batches of cookies by hand rather than beating them until they were fluffy. Maybe that’s why they turned out so hard you could barely bite down on them.
Last week’s stout little mounds of cookies didn’t seem to bother my husband, G. though, who scarfed them down a couple at a time when he came in frosty and dripping from snow blowing stints a few hours each session during record snowstorms here in New England recently. I started out making these batches of cookies as a treat to reward him when he came in from the cold. Seemed the least I could do to offset all that cold, hard labor outdoors.
So, today, I decided to refine my goals and try again. It’s Sunday and one of my favorite shows, “Madam Secretary” will be aired tonight for a new season and the purported finale of “Downton Abbey” is supposed to run for over an hour afterwards. A Sunday night feast of entertainment for which tasty, thin and crispy cookies would be nice to have on hand if I could only manage to find a recipe that succeeded beyond the pitiful previous attempts.
My research process today included reading recipes that had no egg, used light corn syrup and recommended keeping the dough cold while rolling out knobs of batter, then flattening them and baking in a 325 degree oven instead of 375 degrees. Indeed, this recipe by Amanda Hesser suggested cutting up a block of bittersweet chocolate into small bits (Ghirardelli) and adding walnuts. I opted for hazelnuts and possibly macadamia nuts, buying both at the grocery store along with the corn syrup and bittersweet chocolate bar.
The aforementioned portable mixer acted up again as I dutifully held it against the mixing bowl for a full three minutes to ensure that the butter and sugars plus the light corn syrup, vanilla and milk were fluffy enough to be blended properly. I decided the mixer had seen its last day in this kitchen and placed it in the Goodwill box after I washed and dried off the beaters.
I measured out the flour, baking soda and Maldon sea salt, gently hand blending it into the beaten fluffy sugar mixture. Cutting up the Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate bar into bits and browning chopped hazelnuts in a little butter to toast them completed the mixing part of the recipe. Two tablespoons of chilled batter rolled and flattened out turned out gigantic cookies the first time around. Halving the raw dough to one tablespoon, then pressing them flat on the cookie sheet produced the cookies that you see here: about three inches in diameter baked to a finely thin and crispy cookie.
I’m happy to say that it was way worth the effort to try this recipe with its royal ingredients of real chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. The baking process and the finished product resulted in a whole new level of invention and taste. Can’t wait to try this recipe next time with chopped macadamia nuts and maybe white chocolate!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Note: If you follow Amanda Hesser’s recipe linked above, here are a couple of things that I changed: If you want cookies about 3 inches across (this photo); roll 1 tablespoon of cookie dough; flatten with fingers to about 1/4 inches thick and place 2 inches apart on buttered cookie sheet. I used half tablespoon of vanilla and half tablespoon of salt, reducing amounts listed in the recipe. Toasted chopped hazelnuts in a small skillet with melted unsalted butter; let cool to room temperature before adding to cookie dough. Chilled cookie dough as noted.