Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Quest for my Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie - Project Alpha

I've been on the quest for my favourite chocolate chip cookie for the longest time - ever since i started picking up baking. So far, I have not come across something that makes me exclaim "Yes! This is the ONE!!"

During my quest, I started to seriously list down the attributes of my favourite chocolate chip cookie. I realised that I like 2 types: crunchy - as "personified" by Famous Amos, and chewy - as "personified" by Mrs Fields. For crunchy cookies, these should be light, while the chewy counterparts should be crisp on the edge, but chewy in the centre. I'm not a fan on the thick and cakey cookies. I like my cookies not too think, and not too thin either.

I've tried many recipes. Some chewy(?) ones have a too-liquid batter and spread out too much during baking, becoming too thin to be eaten Some have been successful, but are capricious - turns out spectularly chewy on one day and very soft on other days. The chewy ones I've baked so far always turn crunchy within a few days, despite being kept in an air-tight container. Well, they always fare better than their crispy counterparts who turn soggy within days or even hours after baking. Crunchy is better than soggy - at least you can pull them off as "hey, they have always meant to be crispy...." :P Also the crispy ones I've tried invariably turn out cakey - not my desired outcome.

In my "To Do" recipe binder, I currently have 16(!) chocolate chip cookies recipes of all kinds: crispy, chewy, chocolate base, good old vanilla, with nutella, milk and white chips, butterscotch chips, etc. Prior to this, I have tried at least 6 other recipes, out of which 5 have been assessed as failures, either through my fault (lack of talent or proper technique) or the cookie didn't meet my expectations/criteria. The last one - a double choc chip cookie - was good, but capricious....can't do them on a rainy day - will turn soft. Good for the oldies though....

With this blog, I thought I should formalise my quest and document the observations and results of the 16 recipes (and most probably more to come) - much like doing a science experiment report in school. So without much further ado, here is the report for the first out of the 16 recipes adapted from here:

  • The dough was quite dry, making it difficult to mix in the chocolate chips to ensure that the chips are evenly distributed within the dough. Perhaps could try mixing in the chocolate chips first, then the flour - not sure if this is workable....

  • I bake the cookies using only bottom heat for the first 7 (if dough wasn't refridgerated) - 10 (if dough was refridgerated) minutes, then turn on the top heat to brown the cookies for the remaining cooking time.

  • For the first batch, I baked using the above method for 15 minutes. When cooled for about 10 minutes, cookie is crispy at the edges and appears to be cakey in the insides. Upon cooling, cookie firms up further and becomes less cakey. To observe the texture again tomorrow (or rather later today).

  • For the second batch, I left it in the fridge while baking the first batch and only took it out a few minutes prior to baking. Similarly, the cookies were baked initially with the bottom heat only and half-way through, the top heat was turned on. This batch was baked for approximately 20 min. There is no discernible difference in texture caused by refridgeration of the dough. This can be tested again as I have leftover batter kept in the fridge.

  • Verdict: to be kept open till I observe the texture later. As for taste-wise, it's a delicious cookie which is not too overbearing in the butter component. It is also easy to prepare.

Thanks, Connie, for sharing this recipe, and Didally for inspiring me to make this.

Now, let's present the pictures of Miss Chocolate Chip Cookie.....

Stay tuned for an update about the verdict of these lovely-looking missys (or hits??)....

Update on 9 January 2008

The cookie was still crunchy in the evening! This recipe is definitely a hit - butter is not overpowering, stays crunchy, no oily taste. Also, I think there is a need to keep a close look out at the last few minutes to bake the cookies as long as possible without burning to seal the crispiness.

Update on 15 January 2008

Making them in smaller rounds (I think at most $1 coin diameter) will yield them more bite-size and crunchy throughout - almost like Famous Amos. I left them in the refridgeratior, so it was easier to make them small than big. Baking time is about 15 minutes, so I guess, if the cookies were baked immediately, it should be shorter. Still the best way is to observe the cookies closely as they bake: as soon as the sides are browned, they can be removed from heat.

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