Thursday, April 9, 2009

How the cookie crumbles

So the new Cook's Illustrated has the audacity to say they've perfected the chocolate chip cookie. This is my field report:

First, we narrowly avoided cookie failure when a toss of the kitchen revealed a lack of vanilla extract. Thank goodness for neighbors whose mother taught him to cook. The bottle of extract we borrowed was serious. Much bigger than any i've every bought--no wimpy I-only-bake-once-in-a-blue-moon-size. Thanks Leon!
At this stage things look pretty good. Different from any i've ever made before certainly. It not only looks but smells like caramel. Melting and browning the butter is also easier on the wrist than creaming. After a 10 minute rest to "dissolve the sugar" everything else goes in.
And we scope the improbably big 3 tablespoon cookies. At this point, I'm still a believer. The dough tastes fantastic and is wonderfully creamy.
This unfortunately does not save it from the fate of many homemade products: the ever spreading cookie. This cookie has a delicate texture, crisp edges and a wafer thin profile.
My ideal cookie would be thicker and chewier. In the plus column though, it does taste better than the Toll House classic. I've debated this with dB. While we agree that this is not the best cookie we've ever had, the flavor of the cookie dough is the best I've personally ever produced. Complex, not too sweet, lots of caramel-y depth to contrast with the smoothness of the chocolate (by the way, these chips are the best I've ever had; we can't stop eating them out of hand).
Nonetheless, very satisfying with a tall glass of milk. Despite the disappointment on texture, this will become my go to recipe for CCC for the time being. In addition to the fine taste, the melting of the butter makes this a very whisk-only friendly application. Perfect to satisfy cravings that don't involve lots of energetic hand creaming or setting up an electric model. Next time perhaps I'll try a bit more stirring (more gluten formation for chew) and perhaps a bit of refrigeration to fight the spread.

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