Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Search for the Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have a confession to make: I, too, am a stress baker. Big time. My parents and roommates have benefited from this in the past, and now that I am back to being as stressed as ever I decided it was time to break out the ole cookie sheet.

Baking in foreign countries is tricky. There's the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion. There's the grams to cups conversion. Then there's the UK cups to US cups conversion. Then there's the fact that sugar here is less finely granulated, that eggs are smaller, that butter is measured in grams rather than tablespoons...all in all, it's a tricky endeavor. But it can be worth it for its stress-alleviating properties, and so I had baked a couple of things based on American recipes. None of them turned out very well, and so I went hunting for British recipes. The first thing I looked for was chocolate chip cookies. I know they are an American invention, but they're some of the easiest, homiest things to make, and having a good solid recipe is essential.

From what I can tell, baked goods don't enjoy the same popularity here that they do in America. Occasionally I will come across a recognizable cookie or cake, but for the most part it's fruit compotes with custard and these things called digestive biscuits. So it took some considerable digging, but at last I found a Web site for women (natch) which had some appealing-looking recipes, including one for chocolate chip cookies. I adapted it a bit (i.e. I creamed the butter rather than melting it, I added some mixing time in between the egg parts and I lessened the baking time). I also added the American equivalent measurements, in case you want to make it. I have to say, it tasted just like home - sweet and buttery and chewy and delicious. A wonderful find on a stressful day!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from SoFeminine's Recipe Section

Ingredients :
250g/2 cups plain/self-raising flour
2g/scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda (not necessary if using self-raising flour)
3g/2/3 tsp. salt
170g/12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
220g/1 cup packed brown sugar
100g/scant 1/2 cup white sugar
15ml vanilla extract (I don't know what this is - I just used a little over 1 teaspoon)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
335g/1/2 cup chocolate chips

Recipe :

1-Preheat oven to 165°C/330°F, grease baking sheets or line with baking parchment

2-Sift together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

3-In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter and sugars until well blended.

4-Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy, mixing for a minute between after each egg addition. Mix in the sifted ingredients 1/3 at a time, stirring until just blended.

5-Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookies 1 tbsp at a time onto baking sheet about 3 inches apart.

6-Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring onto wire racks.

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