Thursday, September 1, 2011
My Chocolate Chip Cookies
Do you love chocolate chip cookies? At the UW Hillel Café, chocolate chip cookies became my specialty. A few years ago, they were even referred to as “crack cookies” ... you have no idea how that warms my heart and makes me smile!
Chocolate chip cookies emerged as the most popular baked good in the café. In an effort to mix it up a bit over the years I’ve baked other treats, too, including brownies, oatmeal cookies, raspberry streusel bars, lemon bars, peanut butter cookies and cheesecake bars. While the UW students happily indulged in these goodies, nothing flew out of the pastry case faster than the chocolate chip cookies. I’ve baked tens of thousands of them at this point and I am incredibly happy while baking them. They are my signature cookie. I joke about going in to withdrawal if I haven’t baked for a while, and it’s quite true. I love to bake just about everything, but chocolate chip cookies top my list.
These cookies are quite thick, soft and gooey with chocolate chips. They are based on the classic Nestle Toll House recipe. In order to create the extra thick cookie, I experimented with different baking methods and times until I had the exact process down. Definitely a lot of fun experimenting!
In the Hillel kitchen, there is a professional convection oven and this is where the cookie originated. At home, though, I do not have a convection oven, and I want to be able to make the cookies in a home kitchen. In order to achieve this, I needed to (notice the need part!) bake individual cookies, varying the temperatures and times to recreate the convection experience. I’m happy to report success! I found that by freezing the scoops of cookie dough for at least an hour and baking at a higher temperature, the cookies stayed dense and soft, a chocolaty joy to sink your teeth into. An added benefit is that you can keep a stash of raw cookie balls wrapped in your freezer and pull them out to bake as desired (perfect when Sam and Isaac needed cookies for their high school orchestra potluck last night!).
This is the recipe that is most requested by the students and Hillel program staff and I’m happy to share it here with you.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted slightly from the Nestle Toll House recipe
Makes 21 cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet chocolate
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and shortening and beat together with a mixer until smooth (you can use a hand mixer or stand mixer). Add the sugar and brown sugar and continue mixing until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.
In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips until combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop 1/4 cup rounded scoops of the dough (I use a small ice cream scoop) on the baking sheet. If baking the same day, pop the tray uncovered in to your freezer for at least an hour until frozen. If baking at a later time, seal the tray well with plastic wrap (air is the enemy when freezing) and store in the freezer until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 8-9 scoops of frozen dough on the sheet (if you bake more at a time they tend to spread into flat cookies). Bake for 13 minutes, until golden. They will be very soft. Let cookies sit for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Continue baking the remainder of the cookie dough.
**If you have a convection oven, bake the frozen cookies at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.