How to Bake the PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookie

Originally Posted on http://www.ozy.com

I have often wondered myself how people get that PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I like them a little chewy, soft center, with a crisp edge. Looks like the cookie marked BOTH is the one for me! My daughter on the other hand loves the kind marked MORE FLOUR.  Now I will be able to fine tune my cookies to fit exactly what I am craving. Now if I only had some chocolate chips  ….

 

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.


 

 Check out more about the PERFECT COOKIE on this BLOG:   H A N D L E **  THE ** H E A T

 

 

 

 

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Ashley Judd Stands up to the Media and Press

As posted by A MIGHTY GIRL on August 20, 2014:

When the media went into a frenzy over actress Ashley Judd’s “puffy” appearance, Judd struck back with this fantastic statement: “The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about…. The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings.”

Read her full statement on the Daily Beast at http://thebea.st/1dlPPek

For an excellent film exploring the often disparaging portrayals of women and girls in the mainstream media and how they contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence, we highly recommend Miss Representation for ages 12 and up at http://www.amightygirl.com/miss-representation

If you’re seeking resources to help encourage a healthy body image in girls, check out “Body Image” section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/personal-development/life-challenges?cat=378

For books for parents that address body image issues, including the helpful guide “101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body,” visit our “Body Image / Self-Esteem” parenting section at http://www.amightygirl.com/parenting/body-image-self-esteem

And, for parenting books that explore the early sexualization of girls, visit our “Child Sexualization” parenting section at http://www.amightygirl.com/parenting?cat=447

When the media went into a frenzy over actress Ashley Judd’s “puffy” appearance, Judd struck back with this fantastic statement.

Back to School Again

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*** 1st Day of the 6th Grade ***  I wish I looked at least half as good when I was this age. She is quite the fashionista.  I don’t think we looked this good in the 80’s.

Somehow every year the summer whizzes by like a speeding locomotive that only Superman can stop. For whatever reason this summer was the fastest of all. Today is the first day of school for my daughter and it marked the beginning of the dreaded middle school years. She refused to let me walk her into class this year, another marker of just how independent she is starting to become. I am still in shock at how old she is; it’s like just last year she learned how to walk. It’s very bittersweet.

We are very fortunate to have an arts based school that is K-8, meaning that she gets to stay with all her friends and at the same campus location for all of her pre-high school education. I wasn’t so lucky. I had several different elementary schools, then I went to junior high (7th – 9th) where all of my friends ended up at another junior high, and then a different high school than all my friends went. I guess we always lived on the “wrong side of the tracks” and I was destined to repeatedly make new friends.

My birthdays were always difficult that first year in the new school as my birthday is in September. Back when I was in school, we actually started after Labor Day, which doesn’t give much time to make close friends. We had no computers, no cell phones, no Facebook, Instagram, and all that jazz. It was frowned upon to get a phone call after 8 pm and you never answered the phone during dinner. People were less connected back then.

I wish I could slow down time and take in every moment of my daughter’s life, take note of all the funny things she says, remember all the cool clothes she wore and all the sweet friends she makes. Anyone with more than one child I think deserves some kind of award or trophy, because if one if one child is this difficult to raise with this hectic a schedule I cannot fathom how much more crazy and difficult it gets with more kids.

We parents should really stick together and give each other as much support as possible. We can all use a kind word and help from time to time.  So to all mothers & fathers out there who are sending their kids to school today or this week, I applaud you; stand up and take a bow. Your child got to school, is dressed and wearing shoes, has something to eat for lunch, has a backpack, and you made that happen. YOU – got up extra early to help your daughter do her hair. YOU – stayed up late to make your son a perfect lunch.  YOU – ran around all day yesterday getting the last minute school supplies that are required by your child’s teacher.  Go do something nice for yourself this week, go out to your favorite restaurant, get that yummy dessert you have been eying, go get coffee and lounge in that coffee house all day (until you have to go pick up your kids), stay home and take a nap, give yourself a pedicure or go out and get one, or go get a massage – you know you deserve it. You made all this happen. YOU ARE PRETTY AMAZING!

Dinner Party Cooking – Circa 1946

Imagine eating something that looked like this, in 2014. I certainly can’t. Pink ice cream looking substance in a cantaloupe shell with some interesting placements of fruit.  It’s something about the bananas… just makes it so … wrong. It doesn’t look very appetizing. Thank goodness for me we don’t still have to eat like this, but just in case you are throwing a vintage party and need some ideas, let’s take a trip back in time.

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Lets go back again to the 1940’s and see what we should make for dinner tonight.  Put on the radio, roll up your hair and put on an adorable apron. Let’s consult my Lily Wallace New American Cookbook for some dinner ideas. Hmmmm .. . How about a Spaghetti Crown with Savory Spinach?


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Nooooo … I’m not really in the mood for fried cocktail pork sausages. What else looks good……  Oh I know, what about everyone’s favorite Spaghetti with Tuna Fish. Drat, I’m all fresh out of smelly canned tuna. Dang, that one looked promising!

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Maybe we should stick to something more traditional, like macaroni and cheese.  So many varieties to choose from…… Maybe I should just combine ALL these ingredients and put them in a jello mold. That’s what they did back then right?

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OK, now for dessert. I really need some inspiration. I could make one of these:

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These look too scary to eat, like some crazy old evil witch deep in forest made them to fatten me up so she can turn me into a stew or something…. they do not look appetizing in the least bit.  Besides, who puts a whole orange on top of a slice of cake and slathers it in some shiny sugary glaze? Or a circle of poop cookie filled with red jelly? Or a whole mushroom on top of a piece of cake? A witch I tell you, a witch. If you EVER see these at a party you are attending, RUN, don’t walk to the nearest exit and don’t ever go back!

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NO, NO, NO, and NO … none of these will do. It has to be really special. Something no one has had before that will really wow a crowd.


I’ve got it.. how about this! Recipe # 2978 PORK CAKE – YUMMMMMMY

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*** T H E *** E N D ***

Are You “ALL About That Bass?”

Earlier this week I discovered who Meghan Trainor was. I saw her video “All About That Bass” (<- click here to view it) and its a catchy vintage looking hummable cute ditty with lots of pretty colors and hey, Meghan’s super cute too and no she’s not a size 2 (what size is she though?). To me, she is still skinny, but hey everyone is entitled to their opinion). I love the colors and look of the video, with it’s 60’s vibe, adorable outfits, and even that random big dude dancing alone. And yes, the song is catchy!

After watching the video I must have clicked on something to get me to HERE: Trout Nation’s blog post about this video, by Jenny Trout. I read her post thinking that I agreed with some, or most of her comments, especially the section about why we have to “shake it like we are supposed to”. Why are women SUPPOSED TO SHAKE IT?  Why can’t men be the ones to shake it?  I thought it was interesting her dissection of the song and her thought process. My brain certainly does not think that way. When I hear a song that bothers me, I don’t take it apart and analyze it. I usually just change the channel. I am fascinated by people that can do this. They do it to movies, books, songs… they go in depth and think of things I didn’t even notice.

Me: That was a great movie. What did you think?

Friend: Well, there was this part where the General should have been angry and he wasn’t. Why did he act like that? A general would NEVER act like that. He had every reason to be upset and he should have made the soldiers go into battle with no weapons for what they did to him and blah blah blah blah blah ….. [ 10 minutes later ]

Me: Well …… I liked it …. um .. yeah

Yesterday my daughter and I were driving around doing some back to school shopping and “All About That Bass” came on the radio. She mentioned that this was a new song and I said “I just watched the video yesterday!” I proceeded to explain to her what it was about and the problems with it and what I liked and didn’t like about it. Remember she is 11 and she couldn’t care less about the problems with the song.  Kids either find it catchy or not. So far I can’t tell if she likes this song or not.

Today I went back to Trout Nation to copy the link to her blog post and at the top there is a note that was not there two days ago:

Trout Nation: Due to a recent threat I received on Facebook, I’m closing discussion here.

It amazes me that one persons opinion can outrage people so deeply that they threaten the life of the person who wrote it. It’s just an opinion. That’s all it is. It doesn’t mean she is a bad person, or a terrorist, or in the KKK. She wrote an opinion and a breakdown dissection of a catchy song that made her stop and think and question some of the lyrics. That’s all.  No, she didn’t write a blog post about how to end world hunger, or stop wars, or cure cancer. Are we supposed to write about those things if we have a blog? Are we supposed to only write about good things and topics that will help the world? Well, I never got the memo on that one.  If you have a chance read some of the comments on her blog, I was shocked by a lot of the responses she got.

I think we should all be able to speak our minds, even if it means we will get harassed. We live in America where we are supposed to have free speech. Let people have their opinions, and while you are at it lets go out there and cure cancer, end world hunger and stop all wars!!!  

Sugar Cookie Extravaganza and it’s Back to School Already?

Wow, I am amazed that this summer break has flown by so quickly. More quickly than when I was working full time and commuting.  Not sure how that is possible, but it certainly feels that way. Where we live school starts August 20th. That’s exactly 2 weeks away! There are times I wish it didn’t start until after Labor Day like when I was a kid, but in exchange we are out for the “summer” earlier than most people in May. Which means if we take a vacation right after school ends, we beat the crowds.

So the last few days have been a flurry of cookie making. Decorated Sugar Cookie making to be exact. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t be like other moms and just buy the cookies, or make plain circle cookies and slather on some pink frosting, shake some rainbow sprinkles on them and call it a day. But NOOOOOO, I become possessed by some Martha Stewart spirit and wind up turning it into a 3 day cookie making extravaganza for my daughter’s Dance Company’s Bake Sale Fundraiser.

I did my research. I followed the rules and directions and I do have to say that I am quite pleased for my first attempt at this decorating style. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this website that offers really great explanations and how to’s. I wanted to have those professional looking cookies that you find at fancy bakeries. I can see now why they always charge $5 a cookie! However, I’m sure after doing this a few times, I would be able to complete the process much faster.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the compliments I received over these Dance Themed Cookies, taste and the decoration. Everyone in the dance company went berserk for them. They sold out on the first day! Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I see all the things I could have done better, all the little spots that didn’t come out exactly perfect. But in the end cookies were eaten and loved by all.


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Here’s the recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookies that was inspired by The Glorious Baker

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 Cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • Parchment paper

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat another minute or so.
  5. Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing after each cup is added.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time.
  6. Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
  8. Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock type) bag or tupperware bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  9. Prep an area to roll out the dough. I use a roll out mat, and a little flour.
  10. 15 min before you remove the dough from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  11. Take about half the dough at a time and roll it out until about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
    Carefully stamp each cookie cutter until that piece is full. (If cookie cutter starts to  stick, dip the edges in flour.)
  12. Pick up the scraps and re- roll the dough, continue to stamp cookies until full, then repeat.
  13. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 5 -10 minutes. This assures that the cookies stay very cold and will help prevent spreading.
  14. Take the other half of the dough and repeat the process until all cookies have been stamped.
  15. If you don’t have enough cookies sheets you should leave the unrolled dough in the fridge until your first batches are completed.

    PRO TIP: Place similar sized cookies on the same cookies sheet. That way all the cookies will cook evenly and you won’t have some cookies under-baked and others to crispy.

  16. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.
  17. Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.
  • This recipe yields about 30, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.
  • Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.


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::: ROYAL ICING RECIPE :::

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) of warm water
  • 5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2.25 lbs. powdered sugar

*** Note; if your meringue powder has no vanilla flavor (vanillin powder) in it, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to this recipe.

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COOKIE DECORATING TOOLS NEEDED

OPTION 1 – Pastry Bag Method:

  • Piping bags or Candy Melts squeeze bottles
  • Glasses – to stand your icing bags in
  • Clean cloths – a few damp and dry ones nearby
  • Elastic bands or bag clips
  • Piping tips(at least #’s 1-5)
  • Couplers
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Parchment Paper (Decorating Bags)

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OPTION 2 – Squeeze Bottle Method :

I used this method and it works great!

  • Candy Melts squeeze bottles for flood fill
  • Decorating Squeeze Bottles with changeable tips
  • Clean cloths – a few damp and dry ones nearby
  • Piping tips(at least #’s 1-5)
  • Couplers
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Parchment Paper ( Decorating Bags)
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Left: Flood Fill Icing Bottle ************** Right: Border icing and Final Detail Bottles with Changeable tips

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Directions:

  1. Using Kitchen-aide mixer, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder.
  2. Mix it with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
  4. Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  5. Switch to the paddle attachment.
  6. On the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
  7. You will want this to be thicker at first so you can use this for your borders. (You will add water as needed later for the flood fill.)
  8. In small bowls place some of the white frosting in each one. Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. For the borders, you want it to be stiff and thicker, but still able to squeeze out.
  9. Once your desired colors are mixed, then fill each bottle, or parchment bag.
  10. DECORATE : See below for the how to video’s and ideas.
  11. While the borders are drying, use the same bowls as before to mix your thinner flood fill icing. This needs to be thin enough to “set” itself in about 10 seconds. Add only a few drops of water at a time. If it’s too runny, then you will had to add more powdered sugar and mix again.
  12. Fill pastry bags or candy squeeze bottles with flood will icing
  13. Once your borders are set and dry you can begin filling in all your designs and colors. The possibilities are endless, so watch the videos for inspiration.
  14. In-between uses, cover the bowl of plain white icing with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. You can also cover each bottle with a tip or damp cloth to prevent them from getting hard or clogged.
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In the process of bordering and flood fill. The square cookies can be anything you want. I just wrote out words or drew things with the border icing. This was the only photo I took of the in between process. Next time I will add some step by step photos of each cookie.

 

  PRO TIP: To make sure the icing is at the right consistency for the FLOOD FILL, use the “10 second rule“.  Drag a butter knife through the surface of your royal icing and count to 10.  If the icing surface becomes smooth in anywhere between 5-10 seconds, then your icing is ready to use.  If it takes longer than approximately 10 seconds, the icing is too thick.  Slowly add more water.  If your icing surface smooths over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny.



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Here are some links to some tutorials and decorating ideas that I used to create my cookies.

::: Information ::: Tutorials ::: Pro-Tips :::

The Glorious Baker says:

I also highly recommend the book Cookie Craft.  This is the best and most complete book I’ve found on decorating cookies.  This book has gorgeous photos for inspiration, but also has every bit of information you need, including directions and recipes.  Despite the thousands of cookies I’ve made over the years, I still come back to this book for ideas or to refresh my memory on a particular technique.



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The finished cookies all packaged up in my Snapware Cupcake & Cookie carrier. I LOVE this thing. Not only does the inner tray flip ever so you can hold cookies, cupcakes, and muffins, I also used it to carry sandwich or burger fixin’s with an ice pack under the inner tray to keep it cool. So many great uses. I got mine at Costco, but you can find them on Amazon.com (click photo to go there) and it comes with 3 stacks with the flipping inner trays.

So Much Musical Theater News!

Great Post by The Daily Geekette. I love Kristen Bell, Kiki Palmer and I love her take on skin color – because that’s ALL IT IS. It has NO bearing on weather you can sing, dance or act. I think Kiki will make a great Cinderella. Also I was wondering the same exact thing about Netflix lately. Even when Dr. Horrible’s sing a long Blog was there, there are FAR too little musicals to watch streaming. We need the classics too and the newer shows. It’s how actors and singers learn and get inspired. Please Netflix, bring back our MUSICALS!

The Daily Geekette

Tons of awesome theater things have happened this week and I have crazy strong feelings about all of them.  This past weekend, Hair was performed at the Hollywood Bowl and it may have been one of the best casts they’ve ever put together, Cinderella is getting a new lead who has stellar pipes, and Netflix let me down in a major way.

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