• That’s the way the cookie crumbles

    A few weeks ago, four to be precise, I was tasked with finding the perfect cookie for one of my customers.  As they have a single pricing structure, I needed to ensure that whatever I produced was not only tasty, but also large enough to justify the proposed price.  My first attempt was giant chocolate chip cookies, using a Tesco recipe.  The recipe suggested adding Minstrels to the warm cookies just as they came out of the oven..  Although sceptical, I decorated half my batch of cookies with Minstrels and left the other half ‘naked’.  I have to say that that I preferred the look and the texture of the ones with the added Minstrels – the Minstrels added a bit of ‘gloss’ to the otherwise rustic cookies and a crunch to the otherwise soft cookies.

    I delivered the cookies as required and the initial reaction was ‘Wow!’.

    I am not sure how well they went down with the customers, as the next time I was asked to bake cookies, I was asked to make double chocolate chip cookies.  Drawing on a recipe from www.sallysbakingaddiction for ‘inside out chocolate chip cookies’, but replacing the white chocolate chips with milk/dark chocolate chips and making a bigger version of the cookies, I delivered the cookies to my customer for tasting.

    I don’t recall any direct feedback on the double chocolate chip cookies, but the next time I was asked to bake, the request was for chocolate chip cookies rather than double chocolate chip cookies.

    I reverted to the Tesco recipe, but without Minstrels (as requested by the customer).  As I was making a caramel slice at the same time and was nervous about how long it would take to set, I woke up at 4.15 am before an early shift to make the biscuit and caramel layer for the caramel slice.  As I had a bit of time to spare before my 5.30 am start, I decided to make my cookie dough and leave it in the fridge to chill until after I returned from my shift some hours later.

    Following the instruction to let my cookie dough warm up a bit before portioning and rolling it into balls for baking, I popped the cookies into the oven to bake.  Rather than preventing the cookies from spreading too much (one of the reasons you chill cookie dough in the first place – see the other reasons below), the chill seemed to make the cookies spread further/crisp too much on the edges.

    With the cookies not resembling the cookies the first time I baked them, I decided to make a second batch of cookies for the customer.  As they say, consistency is key when baking regularly for the same customer, so I wanted to provide them with something at least similar to the last time I baked the cookies.  I do however feel that baking from home and experimenting with different brands of ingredients, my bakes are not as consistent as they could be.  Hopefully over time as my ingredients become more consistent, these will translate into more consistent bakes.  The second batch of cookies were definitely better.  However, as per the law of the sod, a couple of the cookies of the good batch broke when decanting them into boxes for delivery and I had to include a couple of the original ones to make up the required order number.  The feedback on the bake was that the cookies were too thin i.e. not chunky enough.

    Back to the drawing board, I searched the Internet for thick chocolate chip cookies, which I found after a bit of searching.  With the recipe only making seven very large cookies (100 grams each), crispy on the outside and ‘soft and gooey’ on the inside, I delivered my cookies to my customer for taste testing.  With a repeat order for the cookies and a request for some of the next order to be double chocolate chip, I felt that after three attempts, I may have just found what my customer was looking for.  As I felt that I had finally found a cookie that suited my customer’s needs, I decided to adjust the recipe for the thick chocolate chip cookies and make them double chocolate chip cookies. A simple subtraction of flour (40 grams of the original 240 grams) and addition of cocoa powder (40 grams), saw my chocolate chip cookies transform into double chocolate chip cookies.

    A week later and another order for cookies (half regular and half Easter), I was informed that:

    ‘The cookies seem to be a firm favourite.  We sold out last week.’

    As the say, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’.

    And finally … as promised, the reasons for chilling cookie dough, if like me you wanted to know.

    • Less spread:  Chilling cookie dough reduces the dreaded spread by cooling down the fat. Butter and other fats become firm when chilled, which means the dough starts out more solid and you’ll minimized the spread when the fat heats up during baking.
    • Better flavor: As the cookie dough chills, the sugar in the dough absorbs moisture from other, more liquid ingredients.  The carbohydrates in flour also begin to break down into sugar. The combination of these chemical reactions makes for a more condensed flavor and a more mellow, pronounced sweetness.  As a result, the cookies are more flavourful.
    • A more appealing colour:  Sugar is responsible for giving cookies the necessary golden brown colour.  As the sugar becomes more pronounced with the dough’s chilling, it promotes more even browning.
    • Perfectly crispy edges: Reducing excess moisture from the dough and cooling down the fat in your cookie dough also helps improve the texture of the finished cookies.  The concentration of all the ingredients plus the limited spread means that you’re more likely to attain a chewy texture inside and a crispy texture outside. (www.shopmybluprint.com)