Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Little Slice of Heaven

     When was the last time you had a really delicious chocolate chip cookie? You know, the kind that's still warm from the oven: thin and chewy, just barely crisp around the edges, redolent with luscious, gooey chips? The kind that perfumes your kitchen with the rich aromas of melted chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar and butter? I woke up this morning, realizing that I really didn't have any topics to write about, so in today's post, I will share with you my recipe for what I think are some of the best chocolate chip cookies around.
     These are the cookies I would surprise Nick and Rory with as an after-school treat many years ago. A couple of their high school friends, Willie and Chad, also became enamoured with them, as well as the New York Crumb Cake I'd routinely bake for them on sleepover weekends. The last time I baked these cookies was when I was trying a gluten-free diet last June. This recipe adapted perfectly to substitution with non-wheat flour with no discernible difference in taste or texture. I posted a picture of my last batch of cookies on Facebook the evening I made them. Within moments, several friends of mine from work who happened to be in downtown Rome for dinner, informed me via text message that they were coming over for cookies. I had so many of them, there were plenty to share. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies. You can easily halve the recipe. Because they spread out as they are baking, you should only bake six cookies per sheet pan, unless you want a giant conglomerated cookie! Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Kris Landt's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oven: 375 F
1 cup soft butter or 3/4 cup expeller-pressed virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour (whole wheat pastry flour works well!)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz chocolate chips
1/2 cup oatmeal, processed till finely ground
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional), ground

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat till smooth. In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, & baking soda. Add to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Add chocolate chips, oatmeal, and nuts, if using. Line baking sheets with parchment or Silpat. Place 6 walnut-sized scoops of dough on each baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes until uniformly golden with centers baked. (The centers will be a little soft, but shouldn't be raw or gooey). Cool several minutes before transferring to cooling rack (if you don't wait, the cookies will tear). Double Chocolate Chip Variation: Reduce flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 6 Tbsp cocoa powder (I like Valrhona).

     In baking, it pays to use excellent ingredients. By that, I mean, real vanilla, not the imitation kind, and good quality chocolate chips. I don't think you can get away with using margarine for butter in baking; you just won't get good results. I assume that if you wanted vegan cookies, you could use an egg substitute, but I am not sure that these cookies would spread properly. As I mentioned before, I think that coconut oil, which I use almost exclusively in place of butter now, is an acceptable butter substitute. It is solid at room temperature, and the fat it contains are medium-chain triglycerides, which the body burns preferentially as fuel. I use whole wheat pastry flour to add nutritional value and fiber, but you can use regular all-purpose flour as well. The oatmeal also adds some nutritional value. I've always used a little oatmeal in my chocolate chip cookies because I love the way it tastes. I usually grind mine to a powder, but you could leave it whole, or just substitute oat flour. If you don't like oatmeal, you can leave it out, and increase the flour by 1/2 cup. To me, nuts are an essential component in chocolate chip cookies and brownies, but a lot of folks don't care for them. If that's the case, then simply omit them, and consider adding a few more chocolate chips. In this recipe, I process the oatmeal and nuts together, simply because I like the smooth texture they yield. If you end up with more dough than you have time to bake, simply freeze scoops of it on a small tray, toss them in a freezer bag, and store them for later use. Just be sure and add additional baking time, e.g. 2-4 minutes, when you bake frozen cookie dough buttons.
     Now that I've got my kitchen organized, I can bake again. I have one bag of frozen cookie buttons that I may just have to whip out and bake up this afternoon. There are few things in this world that rival the simple satisfaction of a warm chocolate chip cookie, dunked in a cold glass of milk. It's like a little slice of heaven, right here on Earth!
    



2 comments:

  1. Wow, Thanks for this thorough receipe...they look delicious, and now I am hungry :) I haven't tried making chocolate chip cookies myself, which is a shame, as I love them so much. The incorporation of coconut oil would be royal!

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  2. They look fantastic! I wish I could eat sweets, but I gain weight at the time of eating lol

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