Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Double chocolate comfort cookies

It should surprise absolutely no one that I turn to food when I'm not exactly feeling upbeat. And what better food to comfort a sad heart (with the possible exception of a good pot of risotto) than chocolate? (Okay, maybe chocolate risotto...) With this principle in mind, I set out in search of a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe that wouldn't let me down. I ended up combining elements of a few different ones, and making substitutions due to some lacking ingredients (for example, I had only one egg instead of two). So, here we go:

Double chocolate comfort cookies

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour*
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, melted very slowly over low heat
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar**
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons molasses**
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet/bittersweet chocolate chips and/or chopped chocolate (I just used what I had in my pantry, a combination of semisweet chocolate chips and a couple of different kinds of bulk bittersweet chocolate)

Preheat oven to 375F. Sift together the flour(s), salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Don't skip this step if your cocoa powder, like mine, is lumpy. Set dry ingredients aside.

Pour melted butter into a large bowl, add the sugar and molasses and beat until well creamed. I recommend using an electric mixer, either of the hand or stand variety. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients gradually, scraping down the bowl periodically. Stir in chocolate bits.

Now cover the dough and chill it for, oh, half an hour or so. The chilling will prevent the cookies from spreading when they hit the heat of the oven. If you don't care about spreadage, I suppose you don't need to bother with the chilling step.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use either an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup to place as-uniform-as-possible mounds of dough on the sheet. Do give them a bit of room to spread out--the chilling will prevent some spreadage, but not all. Bake them for ~16 minutes (longer if your mounds of dough are enormous), until they start to look done around the edges. They don't need to be set in the middle. Check them halfway through, and rotate the baking sheet(s) if necessary to encourage even doneness.

Allow to cool as much as necessary to avoid burning yourself, and devour them--ideally with a big glass of milk.

* Alternatively, you can use 2 1/4 cups of bread flour in lieu of the all-purpose flour + gluten flour.
** The recipe called for brown sugar and I didn't have enough, so I substituted white sugar + molasses. If you'd rather use regular brown sugar, just use 1 1/2 cups.

UPDATE: Brave Sir Robin's comment reminded me that I ought to include the inspiration for my cookies, Alton Brown's chewy recipe from the "Three Chips for Sister Marsha" episode of Good Eats. YouTube has it in two parts:


Brave Sir Robin said...

I'm guessing the combo of molasses and chocolate was a winner.

The gluten makes them chewy, yes?

Anne said...

Chocolate + molasses = yummy.

The gluten does indeed make them chewy. The higher amount of protein also means that the flour absorbs (and retains) more water, yielding a moist cookie. I had never considered using high-protein flour in cookies, and always wondered why my cookies never turned out as chewy as I wanted them to be... until now!

Brave Sir Robin said...

Makes sense.

I always assumed it might make them tough.

A higher sugar content will also absorb and hold moisture.

Have you seen the Good Eats episode on cookies? He bakes three different batches of Chocolate chip with slight differences each time. One chewy, one crisp, etc...

Anne said...

I did, too. I suppose that since you don't really develop the gluten too much (by kneading the dough or something), you obtain chewiness but avoid toughness... I shall consult Harold McGee to find out for sure, though.

And yes! I watched that episode (bless YouTube) to try to understand the logic behind the bread flour, milk-for-egg substitution, and so on. I love that show (and totally have a crush on Alton Brown). The chewy recipe was the basis of my cookies, with alterations based on a couple of other random ones.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Alton is my Hero.

Yes, I am a dork.

I love to know the why behind the instructions.

I'm guessing the cookies were terrific?

Anne said...

The cookies are delicious. :) And yes, that's why I have a copy of Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking... and why I adore Good Eats.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking

I've always wanted that.

Is it usable, or really "wonky"?

Anne said...

I quite like it, actually. I find it very accessible. The writing is a little dry (well, compared with Alton Brown), but I find the subject so interesting that I hardly notice. I'm such a cooking dork that I use this sort of thing for bedtime reading. Even so, I think it's a great book to have around.

I was just reading about cakes and found this bit hilarious:

'In 1857, Miss Leslie described a technique by which one could beat eggs "for an hour without fatigue" and then added: "But to stir butter and sugar is the hardest part of cake making. Have this done by a manservant."'

Brave Sir Robin said...

I guess back then, if you could afford to make cake, you could afford a "manservant"

In The Way To Cook Julia Child, when discussing beaten egg whites has a line about the "downstairs scullery maid, who beat her little heart out for the folks upstairs."


Brave Sir Robin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.