Sunday, December 11, 2011

These chocolate chip cookies are serious eats

You might have heard of Serious Eats.You may have event spent time on the site. I know I have. At first, I was just a reader, and then I started posting comments.

Then I had the bright idea that they might like a bread-baking column and I pitched the idea. And they said yes. So when I heard about a Serious Eats book, I was curious. What would it be?

The site has a lot of content - recipes, tips, comments, techniques, reviews. I'm only a contributor, not a staff member, so I wasn't involved in the production of the book. I knew as little about it as anyone else who wasn't on staff.

So I asked the publisher for a review copy. My curiosity was sated.

The book is sort of like a foodie road trip, with reviews of different restaurants, pizza places, burgers, hot dog - all sort of different foods - all over the country.

But since you are pretty unlikely to follow in the footsteps of the many Serious Eats staffers who visited all of those places and ate all that food, there are recipes so you can make your own. So, just like the site, it's a little of this, a little of that. Something for everyone.

And for you, I have some cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Serious Eats by Ed Levine

3 1/2  cups (17 1.2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups ( 11 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 4-ounce bars high-quality bittersweet chocolate
Coarse flaky sea salt

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), combine the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until the eggs are incorporated, scraping down the sides of the mixer as needed. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined.

With a meat mallet or small heavy pan, bread the chocolate until they are in pieces no larger than 1/2 inch. Add the pieces to the dough, along with any tiny bits and chocolate powder. Mix on low speed until just combined.

Instead of broken chocolate bars, I opted to use M&Ms. I didn't bash them to bits - just used them as-is. If you use chocolate, the cookies will be more chocolaty, as the chocolate dust flavors the dough.

Cover the dough (or transfer it to a plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap). Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, or as long as over night.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small scoop, portion the dough onto the cookie sheets, leaving plenty of room between them so they can spread.  

The recipe calls for 1 3/4-inch balls - about 3 tablespoons. I prefer smaller cookies, so I made mine smaller than called for, and baked them for less time.

Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, until the cookies have spread out. Remove them from the oven, sprinkle with additional salt, and return them to the oven. Bale until the cookies are golden brown on the edges, but still soft in the center - another 6-8 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before storing.