Monday, January 18, 2010

Rainy Day Cookies

Whenever it rains in LA, (which is hardly EVER), I find myself strangely happy, holed up at home, with a hot oven and big appetite. Lucky for me, I was ready for this first round of what will be a week of wet, windy, simply wonderful weather. I had my plan of attack so that I could sit down, mid storm and indulge in freshly baked cookies. This all sounds pretty simple and easy - however, there has been a major shake-up in the world of chocolate chip cookie making. See, these days, you can no longer think of chocolate chip cookies one minute and have them the next - Ooooh nooooo! It's all about patience and foresight. (And a lot of self - control!)

The secret is allowing the dough to rest in the fridge for, ideally, 36 (long) hours until popping into the oven. By doing this, three things happen to create cookie magic: The gluten is given time to relax, causing a less rubbery, but more crisp cookie. Second, the butter, which has been warmed to room temp, can cool and thus won't spread into the other cookies while baking. And finally, the rested flour is given more time to absorb liquids resulting in a crisper, more fully-flavored cookie. (See an interesting NYT article here.). To be honest, I haven't tried the full 36 hour fridge test - however, I did freeze the dough overnight and baked half today and was very happy with the result - a crisp, brown sugary wafer-like cookie. Not bad! In fact, a giant improvement from all those years of making the dough and immediately popping them into the oven, which now appears to be a mortal cookie sin. So, there I was, awaiting the storm, with cookie dough freezing, ready to make it's debut. Just like the much anticipated rain.

Not to overload you with this cookie revelation, BUT, there is another part to this sweet story... I have always baked cookies with all-purpose flour, which yields a more cake-like, fatter cookie. Which is lovely. However, my preference is for a crisper, more wafer-like cookie and to get this result is to use pastry flour. It's worth a shot, give it a try and see which you prefer.
Freeze your dough into a log and store. Simply take out and slice whenever the craving strikes you. As for me, with a magnificent, but brief, break in the weather, I'm happy to know there lies another batch in my freezer awaiting the next go-around.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Stir flour with baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugars - don't over cream the butter.
Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mix until incorporated.
Gradually combine the dry and wet ingredients.
Add chocolate chips and combine thoroughly.
Divide dough into two.
Take one half of dough and lay onto a long piece of plastic wrap.
Form a log and twist the ends for freezer , repeat with 2nd half of dough.
Freeze, or refrigerate for up to 36 hours. (If freezing, you can store for up to 6 months)
Whenever your ready to bake, heat oven to 375.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice from frozen log - each piece should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Yields roughly 2 dozen cookies.


The Cooking Photographer said...

They look so crispy and perfect! What a great idea to make them slice and bake.


Maria said...

I can eat these any day, rain or shine.