Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There aren't too many things in this world that just make you feel complete and utter happiness…outside of baking of course. Because when it comes to baking, there are few times I am unhappy. For instance, looking at the dishes in the sink after I have put my last pan of cookies in the oven. Or hearing from your husband, "I love your baking, but I seriously don't think I can sample another cookie today." But all that is washed away when I see people enjoying wonderful food that they have baked from scratch in the comfort of their own home from my recipes. So thank you for reading, trying and reporting back to me on your adventures of baking. I love hearing from you how recipes went!

Now today's blog is a recipe that stems from many versions that have been around the world a few times, but never gets old. I've tried more chocolate chip cookie recipes than I can remember and they all consisted of the same ingredients with slight alterations to the quantity. Some called for more flour, making the cookies much more cake like, while others added more butter or salt. It wasn't until I found a recipe from Apple a Day that something new caught my eye: Corn Starch.

So naturally, I had to try it.  Could there be anything more mouth watering than a fluffy, chocolatey, warm cookie? You tell me, here is a picture of my 100th batch of these cookies…I just can't seem to stop baking them.

What makes this recipe different? Hm, how do I explain it….

Do you sample the cookie dough before you bake it? Yeah, I know it has raw egg in it and you could get sick from eating it….but be honest, do you? Do you perhaps arrange your cookies on the baking sheet in such a way that, oops, there's just a little extra dough that won't fit…better eat it??? Have you ever secretly made the cookie dough and stuck it in the freezer to nibble on when nobody was looking? It's ok, you can tell me. I love cookie dough, it is my secret passion.  I think I might actually like it better than the actual cookie when baked.  And that is why I love this recipe.  Once you have baked the delicious dough, the cookie still has the same taste.  It tastes like dough! It just comes with a little crunchy outer shell and is combined with melted chocolate.  Trust me, it is good.

Because everyone is different, I will admit that I love a ooey-gooey center for my chocolate chip cookies.  I detest the cake version where they puff up super high, but I'm not judging if you do.  This recipe is very simple to edit so that your cookies will puff up; simply add more flour.  The corn starch does make a difference though.  But what does the corn starch do, you wonder? Well, don't worry.  I didn't know either and had to Google what makes corn starch different from baking powder/soda…and for that matter, baking powder vs. baking soda.

This is what I found. The three are similar but totally different.  Confused? Think about roses; they are all the same plant, but they can look completely different.  Here is a break down:

  • Corn Starch:  Primarily used for thickeners and stabilizers in liquids (like gravy). When heated, it expands and unwinds, then starts to bond together when the hot liquid (like melting butter) moves around them. After a while, the bonds are formed and they begin to absorb the hot liquid. This allows the cookie, for example, to retain moisture while not being too gooey.  If you watch a cookie baking, it will transfer from the dough ball, to a sort of wet looking puddle, then slowly lifts into a normal cookie form.
  • Baking Soda:  Consist mostly of sodium bicarbonate, which means that a recipe needs an acidic ingredient to activate it.  This includes things like buttermilk, lemon juice or brown sugar.  (Why is brown sugar acidic? Because brown sugar is made up of cane sugar and molasses, which is acidic.  See all the stuff you are learning!).  So baking soda produces gas immediately when contacted with the acidic ingredient and your dough will begin rising the minute you mix it in.  (Another reason why you wait unit the end to add your "dry" ingredients).
  • Baking Powder:  This combines baking soda, corn starch and one or more acidic salts (cream of tartar and calcium aluminum phosphate).  Baking powder creates a little gas when you first mix it, but even more once the salts fully dissolve, and even a bit more when you put it in the oven.  It usually needs heat to fully work.
Now, don't you feel all smart and scientific! Who knew there was so much in such a little ingredient! What's that…you have no idea what sodium bicarbonate is? Ok, let me explain. They all do the same thing, right...just slightly different; baking soda helps the dough rise immediately, baking powder rises when heated mostly, and corn starch is a bit of a hybrid.

Ok, now on to the actual baking.  Here is the printable version, but don't worry about me going into too much detail about something that everyone has made using some form of the recipe.  I mostly just wanted to share with you how corn starch can make a difference.  It is also a cheap way to bake with your kids or for a quick pick me up after a rough day. For about two dozen cookies, it only costs a little over $3.  Now, go clean your kitchen and tape your recipe to the cabinet…it's time to bake!


3/4 C. Butter
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Sugar
1 Egg
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 C. Four
2 tsp. Cornstarch
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C. Chocolate Chips

Step 1. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in small bowl. If you are wondering why you have to sift, I made a little video showing you how much extra flour there really is after sifting.

Step 2. Beat butter until smooth, then add brown sugar and white sugar.  Mix until evenly distributed.

Look at how beaten down that butter is.  When you add the sugar make sure you mix it enough.
The picture in the middle is not mixed enough…keep mixing until it looks like the right photo.

Step 3. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until smooth again.

Step 4. Slowly add in dry ingredients, scraping sides as needed, until dough is firm and pulling away from the wall. Now like I said, I don't love a big cookie so I don't add extra flour. But if you do, then add a half cup at a time until it fully pulls away from the wall. If you aren't sure, go ahead and take a small dough ball out, stick a couple chocolate chips on top and bake it by itself. If it doesn't puff up enough, add more to the mix. (Then eat the test cookie while you mix it!)

Step 5. Add desired amount of chocolate chips, stirring until they are evenly distributed. I like to have every bite filled with a couple chocolate chips, so I put in a few extra handfuls! Most recipes will tell you to hand stir it in, I don't. Just use the mixer, it will be fine. Actually, in my opinion, it will be better because the mixer will chip off the chips (sorry, couldn't help myself) and those little bits of chocolate will melt into yummy hints of chocolate, while the larger chips will melt like normal. It's kind of like dusting the chocolate chip cookies with a little extra chocolate!

Step 6. Make 1” dough balls and place them on a cookie sheet approximately 2” apart.  They will spread as they bake. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and the tops look dry. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes after removing from oven, then grab some milk and dig in!

A helpful tip for baking: Have an adorable cookie jar. It is fun to fill, and even more fun to empty!

Happy Baking!

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