Friday, April 2, 2010

A Tale of Two Cookies

For a while now, I have been thinking of branching out from the family standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, the Toll House Cookie recipe. But that felt wrong, a little unseemly, to turn my back on a trusted member of the family. But finally I had to dive into that uncharted water once and for all to answer the question: was there something better? or would my cookie cheating be for not?  

To make it a bit more interesting (and a bit less personal), I used the opportunity of a cookie bake off to try a different version of the Toll House recipe that called for more brown sugar and less white than the standard 3/4 cup each of the TH. The main defining point in the test was if the sugar should be creamed until fluffy, or if it should be melted. To make things a bit more fair, I also opted to chill both doughs before baking, and used the same size scoop.

The top photo is of the cookies with the creamed butter and sugars. This recipe felt more like home, and who doesn't love to take a finger of that fluffy whipped sugar concoction right before the eggs are added? And the music of the mixer and the smell of that mouth is watering just thinking of  it. 

Ahhhh...Cookies! But I realized that after they came out that my baking soda was a bit too old and I didn't get the lift as I should have. But they were still chewy, crisp on the edges and delicious. Recipe used was from


Next comes the *NEW* to me recipe involving melting the butter before adding it to the sugars, and then not even turning on the mixer (???) but using a whisk to dissolve the sugars into the butter. This was the America's Test Kitchen website . 

Also new to me was browning the butter before adding it to the sugars. If you haven't yet tried the magic that happens when butter is allowed to come to a lovely nut brown color when over heat, do it now. It's great on pasta, in sauces and now I know, in cookies. 

I have to say that not using the mixer did leave a bit of yummy taste testing out of the cooking making ritual. But the stirring and waiting, stirring and waiting, stirring and waiting did create a bit of anticipation. 

Finally it was time to gently fold in the flour mixture. Also missing was the feeling of power watching the Kitchen Aid muscle through a whole batch of dough. This was, well much more refined. And I'm not sure how I felt about that.  

I scooped out the balls with an ice cream scoop and chilled them so that both my test batches were starting from the same point. The batter was kinda greasy looking. It didn't look like it longed to be dropped into a bowl of vanilla ice cream. I didn't have high hopes for this. 

Then the moment of truth came, and out of the oven it came with glory.  These have to have been the most 'professional' looking cookies that I've ever made. The taste was amazing as well--that browned butter really raised the complexity of the cookie base. And they stayed chewy and soft on the inside with a nice crisp exterior. 

Unfortunately for the test batches I wasn't able to see how they each lasted over a few days as I used them as thank you gifts for a project at my son's school.  But each bagged up and dressed with a bow looked like a tasty treat for the recipients. 

In the end, I can't say which cookie recipe I'll be turning to next. I know that I really love the browned butter version, but tradition still pulls me to hauling out the KA and creaming that batter into fluffy nostalgic clouds.  But is this really a problem? Can we really have too many cookies? 

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