Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Intrepid Baker Sets Out: Nuttela Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my first in what will be a series of posts on the tribulations and exhilarations of concocting new recipes for a cookbook. Each post will include a back-story– the inspiration for the recipe –the recipe itself and the takeaway. The takeaway is a tip or technique showcased in the recipe that can be stored in your arsenal of cooking knowledge. So here it is, my first ever Penn Appetit post!

The inspiration for these cookies is pretty simple. I think all homemade chocolate chip cookies should strive to be as soft and chewy as possible. In my humble opinion, that almost-underbaked gooiness is what separates homemade cookies from Chips Ahoy (don’t get me wrong – chips ahoy dunked in milk is pretty much edible nostalgia). When I began my cookbook venture this past summer creating a chocolate chip cookie that would stay soft even after it cooled became my Holy Grail. Add to this my boyfriend’s love of Nuttela and we have…

Nuttela Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ stick butter (1/4 cup)
¾ cup Nuttela
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup (I used “Lyle’s Golden Syrup” but corn syrup will work too)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, Nuttela, brown sugar, and syrup together. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for as long as your patience will hold out (eager for cookies? Stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes). Drop generous tablespoon-sized balls of dough on to baking sheets lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Bake for about 10 minutes...

The takeaway here is a whole bunch of tips for keeping your cookies soft and chewy. First of all, the Nutella helps. Any fat that isn’t 100% fat (like butter is) will cause the cookies to spread less – less spread means more concentration of dough in one spot, creating the gooey middle lost in totally flat wafers. This substitute fat is often shortening, but you can use peanut butter or Nutella for a better taste. Next, adjust your sugar. White sugar creates crispy cookies. Brown sugar has more moisture so the cookies stay moist. I took that one step further with the addition of a liquid sugar. Any liquid sugar – corn syrup, molasses, honey, etc. – will have the same effect. You can make any cookie recipe thicker and softer by adjusting your baking technique. Chilling the dough means the butter won’t melt and spread the cookies thinly as soon as the heat from the oven hit them; it gives the dough a chance to bake before flattening out. Also, placing your cookies on parchment paper or wax paper instead of greasing the baking sheets also prevents over zealous spreading. And remember, be careful not to overbake, the cookies will continue to cook as they cool.

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