Saturday, September 4, 2010

The trouble with writing a food blog...

If I offered you a large chocolate chip cookie last week, you might assume that was a generous thing to do; share. Typically I am happy to do it and I'd like to think it's driven by generosity. But Thursday, well Thursday might have been a little different. As much as I'd like to think my cookie-sharing is prompted by my desire to share cookies with others, I think in this case I think it was a survival tactic. By offering these cookies to others I was actually begging people to save me from eating them all myself. Maybe I'm not as generous as I once thought, but really, what do you care; I'm still giving you cookies. Even if it was really for selfish reasons.
You see, the trouble (and sometimes benefit) with writing a food blog is that when I set up a shot, the food sometimes looks so good that I end up eating it even if I originally intended to just photograph it and put it away. Such was the case at around 11am Thursday morning when I made chocolate chip cookies. Not just any cookies but Leite's Conssumate Cookies. They are HUGE (I'm talking City-Bakery size huge) by nature because that's the idea behind the 3 rings of a chocolate chip cookie; Crispy around the edges, soft in the middle and chewy in between. So yes, it was necessary to make them that large. Anyway I had already decided I would save one for myself and one for my Dad (the only other chocolate chip cookie eater in my family) and give the rest to my friends that evening. I would photograph my own cookie so that I could break it apart, take a bite, dunk it in milk or whatever and then wrap it up to eat as a snack later in the afternoon. I should really know better by now. By the time I poured a glass of milk and broke the cookie in half, there was no going back. I don't know what came over me but something even possessed me to dunk it in the milk - which I've never done before in my life. I had really just poured it for a prop to set a scene for the photograph but you know what? Now I totally understand why people dunk cookies in milk. It's delicious! These cookies might have even turned me into a milk drinker yet!
Now, I know that every time I make a new chocolate chip cookie, I declare it my favorite (well, except for the little zucchini mishap). For one reason or another the new one is always better than the previous favorite. I often read that others do the same and I think it's not so much that we've replaced our old favorites; but rather this one suits us better for right now. In this moment in time this cookie or cake or whatever is the best one for us.

That doesn't mean we won't return to our previous favorites sometime. After all, a chocolate chip cookie with shredded coconut in it is different than a City-Bakery sized cookie made with chocolate disks. But for right now, in this moment, this is the best chocolate chip cookie. I will warn you though, these cookies are dangerous. I had every intention of keeping only one for myself, but as I packed them up I realized I just couldn't part with them all and stashed away one more for myself. That extra cookie never made it to the light of Friday and was proof that I can't be trusted with these cookies.
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
The key to these cookies lies in a few areas. The first is chilling the dough for at least 24 hours. This helps the flours absorb the eggs and lets the flavors develop. The second is the size. As I mentioned above this is the proper size to achieve the 3 texture rings in a cookie. However I think next time I may see what happens if I make them smaller - mostly because no one needs to eat a meal size cookie. The next is the bread flour and the last is the good quality chocolate disks as opposed to chocolate chips. Valrhona chocolate fèves (disks) can be found sold by the half pound in Whole Foods or in larger quantities online. I used the 70% cocoa but a minimum of 60% is fine as well. Right now I'm on the lookout for a locally-made small batch (preferably fair trade) company to use instead. Oh and I just want to point out the sprinkling of course salt (I used sea salt) over the cookies before baking them is important. It helps balance the sweetness and round out a more complex flavor.

Makes 18 5-inch cookies.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and try to incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. [Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.]
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.


  1. Oh I want them too! These looks sooooooooo good! And I also want those chocolate disks! We don't have such wonderful things in Germany :(.

  2. you can find them on amazon and other places online ( ) but they have to be bought in bulk (like 3 kilo) and they are quite expensive :/ I'm also not sure what kind of import taxes you would pay to ship to Germany. You could replace them with the widest flattest chocolate chips you could find though and I'm sure they would still be delicious :).

    I'm also in the process of looking for a less-expensive but equally as good local company, but I guess local for me would really help you.

    Let me know how they turn out if you try with chocolate chips!

  3. Those are gorgeous pictures...and I would have eaten the cookie too.

  4. So not complaining about your cookie "generosity." Yummy.

  5. This is what I say, kind of like my "food blogging" mantra. I am a food blogger, and it's making me fat. I still have 15 lbs to lose from my second child, but it ain't budging. Damn all these fine baked goods!

  6. Best cookies ever! I've been making milk and cookies for a weekly 'salon' we hold for my husband's students--an excuse for them to take a break, eat something sweet and gossip a bit -- and I'm going to make these next. Thanks for sharing!

    And about the eating bit--yes, that's a problem we all share. I recipe tested a chocolate cookbook a year or so back and, delicious as it was, it was tough on my figure and self-esteem :)

  7. Looks soooo good!! Love the pictures! Theyre just packed with chocolate!!
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D

  8. Your photos are fabulous! I am craving cookies now!

  9. Thanks everyone! It's nice to hear I'm not the only one who can't stop eating my "test" recipes!

    @AJ i'll take a look at your blog!

  10. I don't blame you for eating your photo subjects. But the worst of food blogging happens when you consume your recipe results deftly and happily, only then to realize you took no pictures at all. Somehow a plea of 'I SWEAR it was awesome' has little effect without a visual.

    Those cookies = fabulous!!

  11. HAHA Kate! I've totally done that too, oops! That just means you have to make (and eat) it again!


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