Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cookie Retraction

After our Thanksgiving trip to Madison, I got to thinking that I should share some of my whole grain recipes with the Lonesome Stone community, both as an attempt to improve the social media component of the company and maybe to get a few more ideas about what to do with all that whole grain flour in the cupboard.

So last week I posted my chocolate chip cookie recipe, which is basically the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli bag, substituting whole wheat flour for half of the white flour, and chilling the dough for an hour in the refrigerator before baking.

But I have to retract everything, because I've found a better recipe. For Christmas, Brother in Law Bobby Digital had given me a copy of Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for More Food," a complement to "I'm Just Here for the Food," which he had given me as a Christmas present in 2004, I believe. I very much enjoyed the latter book's scientific approach to cooking, and eagerly sought out the author's television show, where I sensed that the charm of his prose did not translate very well to TV, where I found him rather annoying and tiresome.

So the new book is about baking, and Brown does a good job of explaining why measuring and technique in baking is far more important than it is in cooking, which is perhaps the reason why my projects in the dessert round have been generally less successful than the others.

He also explains that, most cookies are made using the "creaming method," where fat and sugar are blended together, followed by eggs and then the dry goods. This process creates a fine texture, and is familiar to anyone who has ever baked a cake.

In contrast, the "muffin method" involves mixing all of the wet and dry ingredients separately, and then quickly combining the two without overmixing:
Since bubbles are not created during mixing (as they are with creaming) the bubbles blown by the leavening are haphazardous and varied in size.
This technique will be familiar to anyone who is serious about their pancakes.

Although all of the other cookie recipes in the book are in the "Creaming Method" chapter, the chocolate chip variety are in the "Muffin Method" section, and I decided to try them on Friday. The batter was a little drier than I'm used to, and I tried to handle it as little as possible, simply dropping globs of it from an ice cream scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

I have to say that the results made my earlier cookies look like hockey pucks by comparison. The appearance was more of a moonscape than I'm used to, but the balance of fat, flour and sugar was absolutely perfect, and every bite was "toothsome," a word that I don't really understand, but which seems perfect in this sentence. I even rolled out a few at the end into perfect balls, just to test the effect of overmixing, and the results were not nearly as textured, or as good, as the ones I had just dropped on the sheet.

Try it yourself and see. Brown says that you really should weigh ingredients, rather than measure them, and if this recipe is any indication, you better listen to the man. The only difference in my recipe is the whole grain flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine 2 1/4 cups of whole wheat and all purpose flour (in equal portions) with  a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Pulse  for 5 seconds in a food processor.

In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 sticks of butter (melted and slightly cooled), 2 egg yolks, beaten and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients to wet, along with 2 cups of chocolate chips and stir until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!

Drop golf ball size portions onto a parchment lined baking sheet (I used an ice cream scoop, but the cookies were too big, and I'll try a tablespoon next time).  Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to rack to cool completely.


  1. Have you made biscuits with frozen butter yet?

  2. Actually, I planned biscuits for tonight, using leftover pancake mix, but forgot. On tap for tomorrow. Butter is ready in the freezer to celebrate another victory for science over ignorance.

  3. I miss-remembered the advise in that book, and used the creaming method for chocolate chip cookies last night. They are good, but wound up a lot like Chips Ahoy. I definitely over-mixed.