Monday, January 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Smackdown

We eat a lot of cookies around here. Never has that been more apparent than today. I made a ridiculous amount of chocolate chip cookies on Sunday. For some crazy reason that seemed rational at the time but in retrospect does not, I thought I would make two different chocolate chip cookie recipes while baking Sunday afternoon then compare the results. You know, just for kicks. And here it is, Monday night, and there aren't all that many cookies left. A successful experiment? I guess you could say that. Here's how it went down.

My first batch of chocolate chip cookies were courtesy Anna Olson, from a cookbook called Sugar. Anna's recipe features lots of butter and promises a soft-centred chocolate chip cookie perfect with a tall glass of milk. I like Sugar (the cookbook, but also the ingredient). It has a great recipe for date squares (page 58) that are very yum. Anna recommends serving them with ice cream and cranberry coulis. How fun is that? I think I may just serve date squares avec cranberry coulis for a Valentine's Day dessert...but I digress.

For my second batch of cookies I Googled 'best chocolate chip cookies ever'. Because obviously I have too much time on my hands. Any-hoodle, I found a Canadian Living recipe high up on the list and chose that as my second recipe on the basis of it being tagged 'best-ever'.

I made the Anna Olson cookies first. I was a bit peeved by the first batch, which were soft, as promised, but too soft. The first cookie I took off the sheet literally melted through the rack on to the counter. So I kept the cookies in 2 minutes longer than suggested, which helped a lot. I think perhaps my butter was a bit soft; I should have taken Anna's advice and put my bowl of cookie dough into the fridge to chill a bit after mixing. (EDIT - After making several more batches of these cookies on later dates I can confirm that yes, putting your cookie dough in the fridge 5-10 minutes before baking will help firm up your cookies.) Another thing I liked about this recipe: the dry ingredients just went in to the bowl with the butter/sugar mixture. No mixing all the dry ingredients together first. So one less bowl to wash, which, since D. was tobogganing with the kids and off dish duty, was a bonus.

The Canadian Living cookies came together easily as well. This recipe used a mix of shortening and butter and directed putting the dough in the fridge before baking, so they held their shape a bit better than the Anna cookies. Have a look at these beauties:

Okay. So it may not have been the recipe that made my cookie dough so perfectly formed. It likely had something to do with this:

A cookie dough scoop. How have I not bought one of these before now? Between the scoop and the double oven, I could have pumped out cookies for hours. Which I guess I kind of did. Okay. Back to the final results. Can you tell the difference?

You can by taste! My crowd isn't too fussy, (Which explains why we have only a dozen or so cookies left. Out of..I'm not even going to say how many we started with.) but the Anna recipe, in my opinion, makes the better cookie. It appears on the left, above. You really can't beat all-butter. The Anna cookies are soft, chewy and pretty much the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The Canadian Living cookies are a bit crisper, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the shortening/butter combo just isn't as flavourful. The Anna cookies also use mostly brown sugar, while the Canadian Living cookies use mostly white. The butter/brown sugar combo is victorious!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks (I just used chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks. Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. (I cooked these an extra 1-2 minutes for a firmer cookie. Could be my butter was too soft; put dough in fridge for 10 minutes or so before baking if this is the case.)

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