Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who wants dark chocolate cookies?

It's cookie season, and I've been crawling though all the cookbooks I have looking for new cookie recipes to try. When I got a review copy of Milk & Cookies, I was pretty sure I'd find something I wanted to make. The problem was narrowing it down.

Finally I settled on the Dark Chocolate Base Dough. That's how this book works - you get a base dough, followed by recipes that riff off of the base dough to make variations on the theme. The base dough isn't just a base - it's a cookie recipe on its own.

It was all going swimmingly until I got to the chocolate chips. I always have chocolate chips around. Always. But when I went to grab them, I had everything but - I had butterscotch, cinnamon, and peanut butter. I know I've got mint chips. I should have had chocolate chips. But nope.

So I decided to make the recipe anyway and substitute the peanut butter chips for the chocolate. The book has a peanut butter variation with the base dough, but it's not peanut butter chips instead of the chocolate ones - it's peanut butter and peanut butter along with the chocolate chips. So I couldn't make that one.

But, oh well, the oven was preheating and the cookie sheets were waiting.

Now that I've made them, I've got to say that they'd be great with the chocolate chips for a double dose of chocolate, but they're darned good with peanut butter chips, too. Heck, this would be just fine without any chips at all - just a plain, yummy dark chocolate cookie.The cookies were crisp on the edges, but still a bit chewy in the center.

And here's the thing about this book. If you're a little skittish about making modifications to baking recipes, this book might help you figure out what works and how to make your own changes. When you see what modifications are made to the base recipes, you'll see what you could do with other recipes you have.

Dark Chocolate Base Cookies
Adapted from Milk & Cookies by Tina Casaceli

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (3/4 ounce) Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips I used peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Put the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low until the butter is softened, then increase the speed and beat on medium until the butter is light and fluffy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar until it is very light and fluffy.

Combine the eggs and vanilla. Add this to the butter mixer in two parts, scraping down the mixer bowl as needed.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixer, beating until it is just combined, but it's fine if it's still streaky.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn out the dough. With lightly floured hands, finish mixing the dough with gentle kneading - don't over-mix it - just until all the ingredients are blended.

Transfer the dough back to the bowl and stir the chips in with a wooden spoon.

Using a tablespoon or small scoop, portion the dough, then roll it into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet and flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, until the cookies are slightly browned on the edges but still slightly soft in the center. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before storing.