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Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

November 11, 2011

I’ve really been into baking lately.  I’m not sure why.  I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person that made home-made cookies and had them lying around in a cookie jar for that quick afternoon snack.  A few chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.  What could be better?  What else takes you back to your childhood when life was so carefree?

I’ve looked up cookie recipes for years.  Different kinds of cookies.  I’ve thought about buying a cookie recipe book.  I’ve just never done it.  Never made cookies from scratch.  Never bought the book.  I don’t know what stopped me from doing it.

Then I got a cooking newsletter via email one day and it had a whole set of easy cookie recipes in it and I thought, I might as well give this cookie making thing a try.  Now is as good of a time as any to do it.  What easier way to start than the classic chocolate chip cookie?  So I did it.  And, it was easier than I thought it would be.  And it was good!  Really good!

I was looking for a recipe that yielded soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies.  The kind that has a slight crunchy crust, but when you break it in half, hot out of the oven, it oozes melted chocolate and is all soft and chewy inside; and then remains soft and chewy inside even the next day.  I ended up using the Martha Stewart soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe and true to the recipe’s promise, these were really delicious soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies.

The players in this cookie puzzle are: flour, granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, butter, chocolate chips, salt, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla extract.

The key to making soft and chewy cookies has to do with the amount of moisture and air in the batter.  A softer chewier cookie is more moist than a normal cookie batter, and has less air.  You can achieve less air in your batter by not over-mixing it.  This way, you’re not putting air into the batter, and therefore, when it bakes, there’s not air in your cookie which will eventually lead to the cookie becoming crunchy rather than chewy.  Also, the more moisture content there is in the batter, the softer the cookie will remain.  In this case, extra moisture is added by adding 2 eggs into the batter rather than 1 egg.  Additionally, the cookie is baked at a slightly higher temperature so that it cooks quickly and therefore all the moisture isn’t sucked out of the cookie.

Start by combining the flour and baking soda in a bowl.  You want to make sure that the baking soda gets mixed into the flour.  If you want, and it’s up to you, you can put the baking soda and flour into a sifter.  This will help combine the baking soda and flour, and will also sift your flour to eliminate any lumps in the flour.  After all, who wants a lumpy cookie? 

Next, cream together room temperature butter, granulated white sugar and packed light brown sugar in a stand mixer.  The butter really should be at room temperature, or else you will have some trouble trying to break it down and cream it with the sugar.  When you use cold, out-of-the refrigerator butter, you end up trying to mix bits of broken pieces of butter with sugar attached to the butter rather than allowing the butter to break apart and really become creamy.

Once the butter and sugar is creamed together, it’s time to add the salt and vanilla extract.  It may seem counter-intuitive to add salt, but you really need to; it helps draw out the sweetness in the dough.  Now slowly incorporate the eggs into the mixture, one egg at a time.  When the eggs have been incorporated, slowly add the flour mixture into your dough.  You want to add the flour one cup at a time; essentially in 3 different batches.  Make sure that each batch of flour is full incorporated into the dough before adding the next batch of flour.

Now that all the flour has been incorporated into your cookie dough, turn off the mixer.  There’s no need to continue beating and adding air to your dough.  Add as much chocolate chips as you want directly into the dough, and use a rubber spatula to mix the chocolate chips into the dough.

The last step is to scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Make sure that you leave enough space in between each scoop of cookie dough to allow the cookie to spread out as it bakes.  Pop the cookie sheet into your pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes.  When the bottom and edges of the cookie start to turn brown, take your cookies out of the oven.  Allow them to cool in the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Warm soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies with a glass of cold milk is a classic combination.  A perfect snack on a hectic afternoon.  Baking cookies is so much fun!  Eating cookie dough before its been baked is pretty darn tasty too, but don’t tell anyone I said that!

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