In some cruel, cruel parallel universe where I were forced to choose between cookies and cakes, cake would never win, even if topped with the most perfect plop of pink butter cream frosting (because pink tastes better, oh yes, it does) and brightly-colored confetti sprinkles. I don’t mean to diss on cake. I’ve had some good cakey creations in my time here, but even the most spectacular rum-doused pineapple upside down cake or flourless chocolate creation feels at times an uphill battle with the fact that cake, deep down inside, wishes to remain dry. Cookies, on the other hand, desire balance – crisp exteriors, supple interiors, and each and every one of their ingredients gets to make a full-on appearance in the final flavor. As an added bonus, they keep for a week.
Thank goodness I’ve never been forced to make such tyrannical decisions, but were I, I think I’d start with some of the creations in last night’s Chez Smitten Cookie Fest 2006, in which I tried to bake as many oversized cookies as a could in one night, to be assembled tonight into ice cream sandwiches for friend’s surprise party.
First into the mixer were these gigantic chocolate chip cookies. Like most people, I already have a favorite recipe. Mine is buttery and compact and has a high chip to dough ratio. But, they’re not much in the way of spreaders, and this one better fit the bill.
Second in line were, I’ve got to say, one of the easiest, tastiest chocolate sugar cookies I’ve yet to come across. Ingredients are assembled, one-bowl style, in a food processor in no more than four minutes, and baked in another nine. They come for a recipe for Oreos which I highly recommend, but even alone they will leave you wanting for nothing but a glass of milk.
As the clock ticked ten p.m. I fiercely debated with myself whether or not I was insane enough to throw down a third batch for the blasphemous non-chocolate eating types, and like all debates with myself about my potential for insanity, I came out crazy. I found this recipe on Flickr, via this gorgeous picture, and after seeing that the recipe source was Cooks Illustrated, I felt fully confident giving it a whirl. Despite the amount of spice in there, the flavor is anything but overwhelming, and they’re so moist and crumbly, they might convert my cookie tastes yet away from chocolate-laden cookies. Might, I said. Let’s not get carried away.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
- Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
- Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup (for a ridiculously large cookie, one or two tablespoons for more standard-sized cookies) at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes (closer to 12 minutes for non-1/4 cup scoop cookies) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Retro Desserts
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room- temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
- Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
- In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
- Take rounded teaspoons of batter [For oversized ones, I used a 1/8 cup scoop] and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
- Adjust racks to upper- and lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in medium bowl; set aside.
- Either by hand or with electric mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
- Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl.
- Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
- Place remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar in shallow bowl. Working with 2 tablespoons of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4-inch balls. Rolls balls in sugar and place them on ungreased baking sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
- Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets (from top to bottom and front to back) halfway through baking, until outer edges begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to cooling racks with wide spatula.