Tuesday, October 13, 2009

what I baked you wanna eat it put it in you

Okay, so, a while ago I read this article about the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. It was in the midst of my own pilgrimage to Mecca, and I was a tiny bit cross with all these people for making my hunger even worse. Because I was dealing with so many more complicated variables! Oatmeal! Freaky sweeteners! Wheat flour! Gah! I could be going to the moon with this kind of dedication!

The base recipe I'd been using was from A Taste of Gem Valley Country Living, which was their second choice for a clunky name, the first being Idaho Can Cook and Youdaho Can Too!, but that was taken. These local cookbooks are full of recipes for casseroles which people who were not raised by my mom seem to really like**; advice on how to preserve a husband (which sadly is not really a functioning recipe--I tried it once and the body began to spoil almost immediately); and more ways to add canned soup to your diet than you can shake a stick at. Suet pudding. Jell-O in with the vegetables. Sweet potatoes called yams. But something you can always count on are the desserts. There was one outlier for cookies with pudding mix in the recipe--don't ask--but two other chocolate chip cookie recipes I found were the best I'd had since I left home and realized that I didn't like my mom's cookies (sorry mom don't write me out of the will I think you make the best baked chicken and pork roasts of all time we just like different things in our cookies is all).

I used to make chocolate chip classic, but a few years ago I switched to oatmeal chocolate chip and had a hard time going back. So when I decided I needed a less-deadly cookie recipe, that's where I spent my energies. And it was really hard work, meow! The wheat flour was an easy switch, because the oatmeal lays the groundwork for it, but as soon as I took out the refined sugar, BAM. Cakey nightmares, no matter what I did with sugar amounts, baking temperatures or times, added or subtracted liquids. Frust!

And then I read the NY Times cookie story, and thought, Oho! Mayhap the sizing is la problema! So a couple of batches ago I tried double scoops. The cookies spread all over the baking sheet, but at least they weren't cakey. Then another hint from the story--resting the dough in the fridge overnight. The double scoops of rested dough, cooked for two minutes longer and twenty-five degrees cooler were almost perfect. In the article it refers to the triple layers of texture: crispy, chewy and gooey. Or something . . . I've forgotten the exact wording. But the point is, the cookie has to be of a certain size for all these textures to occur. When I made my usual wee cookies, they couldn't get all spready to crisp up the edges and melt the centers. Now they have just the tiniest frame of crispy, then a wider section of chewy, and the middles are so gooey the cookie tends to fall apart if you don't wait a minute. A minor quibble. And they taste good the next day. Overall, I'm ready to declare this project a qualified success.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 325*. Cream together in a large bowl:
1 C butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 C Sucanat
1 T agave nectar (to account for the moisture lost in the brown sugar)
1 t vanilla
1 t hot water

2 C rolled oats
1 1/2 C wheat flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda

Mix together, then add:
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

When chocolate chips are incorporated, cover the dough and put it in the fridge to rest overnight. Ha! No way are you doing that. I certainly don't. Just know that the fresh dough will spread all over the pan--I usually make one sheet and chill the rest.

Now, about the sizing--my scoop is 1 1/2" across, and I just stack two level scoops on top of each other, like a dough snowman. You can try a 3" scoop and I bet it would work just the same, as long as the dough is rested.

Bake at 325* for ten minutes.

**Upon review it sounds like I'm saying that my mom makes grody casseroles, which is not the case. She doesn't make them because she thinks they're gross, and on the whole I'd say she's right, especially about that green bean/hamburger/mushroom soup abomination. Oh! Or that thing with the TATER TOTS IN IT! Ugh. So my sisters and I don't really groove on them either.


All8 said...

Now, that's commitment! I dislike cakey cookies too. Blech.