Monday, December 21, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies, the classic holiday treat

The cookie, that tasty little morsel baked just for you to enjoy. For me cookies mean two things: Stacy’s favorite treat and holiday cookie parties.
Stacy is a master cookie baker. She makes a dozen chocolate chip or m&m chocolate chip cookies almost every weekend. (I try to sneak one off the baking sheet moments after they come out of the oven to devour while still warm.) Stacy makes the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had, ever. They are the perfect crispy outside and gooey inside with just the right amount of chips. Her cookies bake to just the right thickness so that they are not too thin or crispy or too chewy. They are a confectionary masterpiece.

They key to baking any product well is controlling the temperature and melt rate of the fat in the product. Stacy starts her cookies by tossing a stick of butter into a mixing bowl that sits out in the kitchen to soften for at least two hours. Once soft, the butter is creamed which means it is worked with the back of a soup spoon in the mixing bowl until it is the consistency of mayonnaise. She then mixes the cookie dough adding the chips last. Finally, she forms the dough into balls about half the size of golf balls. Each ball is placed on a baking sheet as she forms them. As each cookie bakes, the butter melts as the other ingredients cook and the ball becomes a disk. Stacy usually makes a half batch of the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe which can be found on the back of a bag of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Morsels:

Yield: About 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cup Nestle semi-sweet morsels (1 12-oz pkg)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 375
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy (note: Stacy first creams the butter with the back of a soup spoon and then adds in the sugar and vanilla using the spoon to combine. At this point the mixture should be fluffy). Gradually beat in flour mixture (Stacy continues with her spoon). Stir in morsels and nuts (Stacy gently fold in the morsels again with the spoon). Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes (this is when I snatch my warm treat); remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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