That chocolate chip cookie recipe.

You’ve probably read about the cookies by now. Perhaps you have questions.

Should I?

Yes.

When?

Now.

Chocolate Chip CookiesHow many?

As many as possible. You know how many Cookie Monster might bake? Like, double that.

Eaten with what?

Are you a commie? Everybody knows that you eat chocolate chip cookies with ice-cold milk. Cow is traditional, but yak, goat, and soy are acceptable.

Any suggestions?

Yes, four. First, for the best textural variety, remove the cookies from the oven before any part of the 2-inch center develops brown color. Second, unless you prefer typically sweet cookies, obey the recipe and use at least 60% bittersweet chocolate—regular semi-sweet chocolate chips are a little too sweet and overwhelm the caramel notes in the cookie. I used regular chips and regretted it almost as much as that one time I brushed my teeth right after I ate chocolate cake. Third, be truly generous with the salt and don’t be afraid to use a coarse-grained variety. Rock salt is probably overdoing it. Four, flatten the dough ball a little before sprinkling the salt. If you don’t do that, the salt tends to fall off the sloped sides and distribute too heavily in the center.

Salt? Really? Salt?

If you’re new to the salt thing, try this chocolate bar or this chocolate gray salt caramel. The salt melts slowly, hitting your palate with delayed bitterness from the chocolate. The flavor of what you’ve just eaten, whether it’s a caramel or a chocolate chip cookie, lives and lingers, makes you lust and love, and after the experience is over, you become a happier person and the world becomes a better place to live. Hyperbole? Yeah. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s tasty, like chocolate-covered pretzels or peanut butter cups, only better.

Cookie doughWhat’s up with the half bread flour and half cake flour thing? Why not just all-purpose flour?

Nobody bothered to explain this, which is a major oversight for a lazy geek like me. I used both flours because I had them, but others who tried the recipe say that AP flour works just fine. I would bake both and do a side-by-side comparison if it didn’t make my side-butt-side swell. And not swell like, “She’s swell!” Swell like, “She has gotten her hips stuck in the only emergency exit, and it looks we’re all going to die now in this terrible, terrible fire.” The gluten content of the mixed flours is about the same as for AP flour, so gluten can’t be the reason for the two flours. It must have something to do with the nature of the flours themselves. According to Harold McGee, cake flour is heavily chlorinated, acidic, and very finely milled. Rose Levy Beranbaum notes that the soft wheat in cake flour is extra starchy and absorbs moisture better than other flours. So what do these qualities combined with bread flour do that makes the combination superior to AP flour alone? In my experience, cake flour lends a velvety, sandy texture to baked goods, so that quality combined with bread flour for structure and chewiness might be the reason for using both. Or…Mr. Torres and Mr. Leite just want to BE DIFFICULT.

Chocolate chip cookieCan you freeze the dough and bake it later?

I hope so, because I put a dozen scoops in the freezer to harden them up before tucking them into a freezer bag. I also folded up the used parchment paper from the batches I baked and tucked them into the freezer bag along with the dough. That will keep the butter on the paper from going rancid and allow me to reuse them to bake the reserved cookies. This is called cheapness environmental consciousness.

What about silicone baking sheets?

I like those for candy and extremely sugary cookies like benne wafers. But silicone liners insulate the pan, increase baking time, and interfere with crispityness development. Cookie crispityness is what makes life worth living.

Those flat chocolate disks. Yay or nay?

Yay I’m sure, but I can’t find them in my town, so they’ll have to wait until fall when the chocolate sites aren’t forced to pack their merchandise in ice and charge you extra for it.

Be honest. Are you eating a cookie right now?

Tho! … Theth.

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bullet IMPORTANT COOKIE LINKS
· The original NYT article and recipe.
· Fabulous photo comparison of the batter and baked cookies at different ages from For the Love of Food.
· Excellent post on the cookie and gauging doneness at King Arthur Flour.

Grand Gianduja Stracciatella Gelato.

I’ve met people who eat chocolate every day, survive on chocolate when depressed, and smoke chocolate after sex. You know those people. Perhaps you are one. Well, not me, I’m stronger than that. Chocolate can’t take me on its own—it takes two to take me down. Caramel plus chocolate works. Almonds can help out. Recently I tried a matcha dark milk chocolate bar that made my knees wobble.

Gianduja Stracciatella GelatoAnd God help me when chocolate teams up with hazelnut. If chocolate and hazelnut ran a cult together, I’d shave my head, buy a robe, and get a tattoo. Chocolate and hazelnut make me run in circles and howl at the moon. Tease me with gianduja or Nutella and I’ll transform into a raving chocelnut girl, a hazelolate slut, a nutty drooling wench powerless in the face of my desire. You know you can dip strawberries in Nutella? You can dip anything in Nutella. Believe me, I know. My cats are still pissed.¹

It never occurred to me to combine chocolate and hazelnuts myself until my cookbook ban lifted and a sexy copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop finally arrived. I happened to have a bulk quantity of shelled whole hazelnuts and a supply of Green & Blacks milk chocolate and Michel Cluizel milk chocolate in my pantry. Since the word “fate” gets thrown around too casually, I won’t claim that I made the gelato due to fate. I made the gelato because I love chocolate with hazelnuts and had the stuff around to make it. It’s not a romantic story, but when your most enduring love affair so far has been with a sweet creamy chocolate nut spread, you work with what you have.

By the way, if you live near an Aldi, they sell an excellent trans fat-free chocolate hazelnut spread for a third of the cost of Nutella. I mention this because if I’m going down, damn it, I’m taking everybody with me.

Gianduja Stracciatella Gelato in ice cream makerI’d post a recipe, but others have already done so with yummy pictures of their own, so by all means, give them a visit. It’s not a simple recipe. The hazelnuts must be toasted and skinned, then ground and soaked in milk. Then you strain the nuts out and throw the nuts away. I can’t tell you how traumatizing this is. You spent all this time with them and then…toss them? Well it turns out that their flowery fragrant spirit is still there, steeped into the hot milk mixture, so just do what I did—wipe away the tears and steel yourself with the knowledge that it will all work out for the best.

David recommends 5 ounces of melted chocolate for the straccciatella, the melted chocolate that is poured into the churning ice cream where it hardens and breaks into delicious little bits. I found that much dark chocolate a little too overpowering. Next time I make this—and there will definitely be a next time—I plan to drop amount that down to 3 ounces. Then I’ll dip everything, including myself, into a vat of Nutella.

· David Lebovitz on gianduja from the source
· David’s gianduja gelato at butter sugar flour with rippled chocolate sauce
· …at Cookie Baker Lynn in its simplest form, sans straccciatella
· …and at Cafe Fernando between crisp wafers

¹ Kidding.

The non-dudly, downright studly, Chocolate-Bean Cake.

Like many people trying to lose weight, I went through a dudstitution phase. This is a tragic period when you do things like take a perfectly innocent recipe for chocolate poundcake and replace the butter with applesauce, the chocolate with pureed prunes, the sugar with Splenda, the sour cream with nonfat yogurt, the white flour with wheat flour, and the whole eggs with egg whites. Then you eliminate the salt, add a big scoop of wheat bran, and sprinkle the batter with cinnamon and crushed multi-vitamins. The resulting . . . cake . . . has the texture of tripe and could scrub the rust off a cast iron skillet that has been oxidizing in a swamp since 1983.

Chocolate-Bean Cake sideHowever sad this . . . cake . . . is, the truly sad part of dudstitution is the denial. “It tastes just like the real thing!” you say to friends and family gamely trying a piece of your . . . cake. You also mention, somehow thinking that it might help, “It has only zero grams of fat and five grams of fiber per serving!” Kitchen sponges liberally sprinkled with sawdust also have zero grams of fat and five grams of fiber per serving, but your friends and family are too polite to point this out to you.

I’m exaggerating a little, but I admit it: I baked a few kitchen sponges and forced them down with skim milk and lies. When I finally came to my senses I stockpiled butter in the freezer again and stopped torturing what was left of my friends. At least I learned a few things from all my suffering, like that yogurt cheese’s tang makes it an outstanding replacement for some of the cream cheese in citrus cheesecakes, that up to half wheat flour in place of white flour in scones and biscuits doesn’t hurt the flavor, and that yogurt can replace sour cream in almost any recipe. If a healthy substitution doesn’t adversely affect the outcome, why not do it?

Chocolate-Bean Cake topSo when I baked Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate-Chestnut Cake and noticed that pureed canned chestnuts have the same texture as bean puree, I had to do it, I had to make Chocolate-Bean Cake. Not only do beans add fiber, they’re much cheaper than cans of chestnut puree which are not easy to find here. I had to ask my brother to buy some in Chicago, and even he would have failed had he not tracked down a few dusty French cans at Whole Foods.

And frankly, while it’s a fabulous cake, you can’t taste the chestnut. This flourless cake has an airy texture, almost like a souffle. The half pound of chocolate manages to be both rich and light, while the chestnuts add a velvety mouth feel and gentle sweetness that any sweetened bean puree can provide. I chose to use sweetened azuki bean paste because I always have it on hand, it’s cheap, and it’s already sweetened. It made the cake slightly sweeter but worked just as well as chestnut. Next time I’ll experiment with chickpea puree or Asian sweet potatoes (fluffier than orange sweet potatoes). Heck, even a firm batch of mashed potatoes would work, but it won’t be nearly as healthy.

The original recipe is available here at bottom left. In this version I’ve included espresso powder to intensify the chocolate flavor, added cream of tartar for stability, and eliminated the muscovado sugar for simplicity. My mother served the cake at a gathering and reported that people descended on the whipped cream-topped slices of chocolate clouds like starved vultures. The attack was so savage that my mom ended up eating a plate of whipped cream sprinkled with crumbs—all that was left of the poor cake. She felt lucky to get even that.

STUDLY CHOCOLATE-BEAN CAKE
Adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
Makes one 9- or 10-inch cake

Cream of tartar is optional but will help keep the whites from deflating. If you prefer a denser cake or are using a 9-inch pan, you can omit it. When I lined the pan with parchment I had no problems, but when I tried greasing the pan with shortening and dusting it with cocoa powder, the cake’s top crackled under the knife that I ran round the edge to loosen it (that’s the version pictured). If perfect appearances are important, use parchment paper, otherwise grease and cocoa powder should be adequate. The cake’s lightness keeps it from being very bitter despite the small quantity of sugar. You could easily up the cacao percentage to 85% or more to please a sophisticated chocoholic.

Ingredients:
· 400g (1 packet) sweetened smooth red (azuki) bean paste
     OR 430g can unsweetened chestnut puree
· 9 Tablespoons (125g) butter, softened
· 1 Tablespoon dark rum
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
· 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
· 6 large egg yolks
· 9 ounces (250g) bittersweet chocolate, melted but not hot (I used 70%)
· 6 large egg whites
· 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
· 3/8 cup or 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (75g) superfine or regular sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.

2) In a large bowl, beat butter until soft. Beat in beans or chestnut, flavorings, salt, egg yolks, and chocolate. Set aside.

3) In a separate bowl, beat egg whites at low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar, increase speed, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until whites are glossy, stiff, and slip only slightly in the bowl when bowl is tilted.

4) Carefully fold one-third of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the rest of the whites until mixture is well blended and no streaks remain.

5) Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top of batter. Bake until top looks dry and center springs back when pressed (like a kitchen sponge—but it won’t taste like one, I swear!), about 45 minutes. Top may look crackled or cracked.

6) Cool cake 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool on rack right-side-up. Serve dusted with powdered sugar and/or topped with whipped cream.