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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cranberry Pecan Flax Muffins

Hello I am back from our summer break. We have been on a 3 state amazing road trip, had to be at my daughter’s two dance shows, and helped out at one Girl Scout Harry Potter Camp. I hope I can get back to writing more regularly. I have so many wonderful things to share with you for the summer I am just bursting at the seams.



::: Do you want to start of your morning in a healthier way than usual? It’s important to eat something for breakfast and what you eat can make a big difference in how you feel later in the day. I know I have already given you the green smoothie challenge, but if you have a bunch of hungry people to feed or you are in need of something more filing in the morning, let me introduce you to my newest and greatest love : Flax-seed Meal, a very ancient thing from biblical times that is making a comeback. I had no idea how much I would truly love the taste of this stuff, I am kicking myself for not trying this sooner.

Flax-seed meal contains all sorts of healthy things for you.  Mainly omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Lignans have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flax-seeds contains 75 to 80 times more lignans than other plant foods as well as being high in dietary fiber (both the soluble and insoluble types). It’s also a powerful natural cholesterol controller!

So today I bring you a recipe inspired by one that was on the package of flax-seed meal. The recipe called for carrots and apples, but I really wanted something closer to a bran muffin so I changed it up. In fact I liked these muffins way more than any bran muffin I have ever had and these are healthier and less fattening than those store made ones. You could also try subbing out the oil for applesauce to make it even healthier, but I have yet to try that.


Cranberry Pecan Flax Muffins

PicsArt_1405290731451

Makes 12 large muffins

:::  Ingredients  :::

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Flaxseed Meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Meal
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk, almond milk, or soy milk
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs or 3 tsp of Egg Replacer + 4 tbsp warm water

::: Instructions :::

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Spray cupcake pan with baking spray or oil & flour the pan
  • In Kitchen-aid, mix together dry ingredients: flour, flaxseed meal, almond meal, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, & cinnamon
  • Stir in cranberries and pecans
  • Add milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs (or egg replacer already mixed with water) and blend slowly until combined
  • MIxture should be thick and sticky, if too thick add a little more milk
  • Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full – using egg replacer I was able to fill them up almost all the way, but not overflowing
  • Bake for about 17-22 min for metal cupcake pans or 20-30 min for stoneware muffin pan
  • Muffins are done when you can stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean

Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal

20140707_105956

ADDICTING PEANUT BUTTER DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Not many people don’t love a good chocolate chip cookie. Combined with some peanut butter and you have just upped the ante. I made these last week and put some out for a game night we had. My friends kept asking me, ” What did you put in these cookies, they are so addicting.” We would play a round and if someone got up, they would ask that person to bring them another cookie. Eventually the whole Tupperware container of them ended up in the game zone to make for easy reaching. People made sure to take a couple extra at the end of night so they had one for the road.

These cookies are the perfect amount of chewy, with a crisp edge.  The combination of two kinds of chocolate, and a little peanut butter just made them that much more addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m sure you will want more than a shot of milk to go along with them!

Makes about 2 dozen
Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, softened
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Using a Kitchen-aid mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth
  • Beat in the eggs until light & fluffy
  • Add corn syrup, water, and vanilla and mix until just incorporated
  • Slowly combine the flour, baking soda, and salt into the peanut butter mixture.
  • Pour in the chocolate chips and mix on low until combined
  • Use cookie scoop to drop dough about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden brown.
  • Place cookies on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before eating.

Summertime Adventures (or Be A Tourist in Your Hometown – Part 2 – South-East Sonoma County)

:::  S U M M E R   I S   H E R E  :::

Are  you sure? I am pretty sure that last month we just celebrated Valentine’s Day right?  It seems like time is somehow stuck in hyper-drive. A month goes by and I have no idea how it happened and what I did with all that time.  Now all of the sudden I have a bored pre-teen that I am apparently supposed to wait on hand and foot as if she were the royal princess of Summer-topia.  I am finding it much more difficult to keep a pre-teen entertained than a 2-7 year old. I am not sure why that is since at this age she doesn’t need 100% supervision; no diapers have to be changed, she needs no naps, we don’t need to pack a huge bag of necessities, toys, stroller or extra clothing. Yet somehow she seems more dependent on me than ever.

It’s been a few years since I was the parent at home during the day in the summer, so I decided we needed some new rules that relate to an 11 year old. So far I have been met with lots of resistance (not surprised), but I am confident that I will prevail as the grand champion.

  • Rule #1: I am not your servant, personal chef, maid, butler, or taxi-cab.
  • Rule #2: You still have to read a book at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Rule #3: You have to help do chores and special projects around the house.
  • Rule #4: You cannot sit and watch TV or movies all day long.
  • Rule #5: You cannot sit and play on your phone or other electronic device all day long.
  • Rule #6: You can stay up late, as long as you get up at a reasonable time the next morning.

Luckily for us one of her best friends lives across the street. This is very helpful when having an only child. They can come and go as they want and they keep each other entertained for the most part.  But even with friends over, they all still get bored, and I have to step in and find something for everyone to do.


::: SUMMER ACTIVITIES :::

If you are looking for some affordable and/or free things to do this summer, I have a few fun and interesting idea’s for you. We have been to all of these places and we just love them!  For fun things to do out west please see my earlier blog post: Be a Tourist in your Hometown

JELLY BELLY FACTORY – Vacaville, CA  – Free factory tours, plus free samples and a free bag of Jelly Bellies for everyone!  I realize this is not in Sonoma County, but it is located only about an hour from Santa Rosa and this makes for a fun day. The tour is about 40 minutes, includes videos and history of the company and on weekdays you can see all the workers in the factory and all the machines going. Weekends the factory workers have off, so it’s a little less exciting, but it is still fun. They also give out free chocolate and fudge samples in the gift shop, plus you can go through the line at the jelly bean sample bar as many times as you want and try all the flavors. They do have a  cafe with all sorts of Jelly Bean shaped food which is ok, but not great.  However if you are coming from Northern Sonoma County and take hwy 116 exit in Petaluma, there is a wonderful place to stop and eat either on the way to the Jelly Belly Factory or on the way back called The Fremont Diner (see next item on this list below).

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  20140605_143424 20140605_135230 20140605_135327



THE FREMONT DINER – Carneros Hwy Between Sonoma and Napa (AKA Hwy 121/12) – On your way out to or back from Vacaville, (honestly anytime you want an amazing home cooked, farm fresh, locally grown, organic, free range, utterly fantastic food) stop by this quaint historic landmark for some tasty grub that will knock your socks off. They grow as much of their own food as possible in their gardens, or they get it locally.  You will be treated like family as you sit inside and enjoy the antiques or outside at a picnic table in their “backyard”. Amazing views when you sit outside with gorgeous vineyards on the hills. Once we were treated to a rare double rainbow at sunset as we dined outside.  Check out their seasonal menu (they serve what’s fresh!) however they always have the popular dishes such as the Deviled Eggs, Nashville Fried Chicken, Fremont Burger and Mac-n-cheese. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you happen to have $5 bucks in your pocket, be sure to go inside and have your photos done in the Chicken Coop Photo Booth. You get two strips of 4 poses so you can share with a friend!

20130914_180149

20130914_163446 20130914_165015 20130914_163923 20130914_175915 20130914_18025420140605_125749



CORNERSTONE SONOMA – (About 5 minutes from Fremont Diner)  Sonoma, CA – It’s hard to describe exactly what Cornerstone is. It’s part art exhibit, part garden, mix in some interactive outdoor experiences, and throw in a cafe and a wine tasting room and there you have it. What is so cool about it is that this kind of art appeals to all ages and types of people,  and the opportunity to wander & experience the outdoor art gardens is completely free. The gardens have separate sections and each one has something different and unique, created by some pretty clever artists. One of my favorites is the metal tunnel, called RISE. It has great acoustics and its fun to sing inside of it. There’s also a wishing tree with iridescent prismatic ribbons that you write a wish on then tie it to the”tree”. The ribbons sway in the breeze making the rainbow colors so vibrant and beautiful. If you are hungry you can stop and grab a bite to eat at the cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating. (Note that we have not eaten here at Park 121 yet.) Or bring a snack ans sit out on the grass in the middle of the gardens. Lots of fun adventures and silly photos are bound to keep any child or adult entertained for hours.

IMG_5222 DSC01671 20140503_135520 IMG_4990 DSC01640



CLINE CELLARS – Sonoma, CA – Just a hop, skip and a jump from Cornerstone, is Cline Cellars.  Cline Cellars has some beautiful property that makes for a wonderful morning or afternoon walk. They have a small tasting room (free tasting of 5 non-reserve wines), California Missions Museum (also free), gorgeous pond, gardens, and even some beautiful pheasants and other exotic looking birds, they also offer tours of the estate.  This makes Cline Cellars a perfect stop with or with out kids. For those wine snobs out there, Cline Cellars are well known for having Ancient Vines, some of the oldest and most rare grapevines in California that range in age from 80 to 120 years old.  They are also pesticide free and sustain organic practices on all their vineyards.

DSC01528 DSC01569

DSC01583DSC01531 DSC01540



JACUZZI WINERY– Sonoma, CA – Only 417 feet from Cline Cellars is this fabulous Italian themed winery. They have a beautiful tasting room, food & gift shop. Here you can also sample glorious house made olive oils and vinegars.  Like Cline Cellars, they offer a complimentary wine tasting of 5 of their non-reserve wines. The grounds are spectacular and you almost feel as if you are on vacation in Italy, and yes they are the ones who invented the “Jacuzzi Spa Tub”. Go ahead and take some photos of yourself while you are here, your friends will be jealous that you are in Tuscany!

DSC02295 DSC02318

DSC02324 DSC02331


Oatmeal Chocolate Banana Bread Bars


So you are hungry. You have nothing yummy to eat and you don’t want to go to the store. Besides the last time you read the labels on those so called natural granola bars, it made you cry. Well, just whip up a batch of these super easy oatmeal bars and you have breakfast, lunch, or dessert!  I was really tempted to add some peanut butter, but I wanted to try them the way the recipe called at least the first time.  I did add pecans to half the pan which were not called for, and I actually like them better than the side without nuts.

These remind of something I have had before, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. My childhood? Food from an era before mass production of fake processed and chemically “enhanced” foods? Perhaps. It’s just simple homemade, chewy, moist and chocolatey with a hint of  banana. So what if you are one of the few people who do not like chocolate? I will allow you to omit the sinful dark confection for something else, but you will be missing out.

So if you are reading this and wondering what’s actually in that last store bought granola bar you ate, let me show you this. This is taken from what is advertised as “healthy” and “low fat”. All I see here is a long list of ingredients and many of them I have no idea what they are or how they are made or where they actually come from and we shouldn’t be eating them. In case you are not familiar with some of these items, I have provided links below to the definition and uses. Some were quite shocking to know that they are in these granola bars, but also can be used in jet fuel, cigarettes, or in cleaning products. Makes you think!

::: CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP BARS :::
Ingredients:

GRANOLA (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, BROWN SUGAR, CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT],WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, SOYBEAN OIL, DRIED COCONUT, WHOLE WHEATFLOUR, SODIUM BICARBONATE, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NONFAT DRYMILK), SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOABUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA EXTRACT), CORN SYRUP, BROWN RICE CRISP (WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE, SUGAR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, SALT), INVERTSUGAR, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, GLYCERIN, SOYBEAN OIL. CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SORBITOL, CALCIUM CARBONATE, SALT, WATER, SOY LECITHIN, MOLASSES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BHT (preservative), CITRIC ACID.

I don’t know about you, but how about we make something with far less ingredients and chemicals in it. You know they say we should be eating how our great-grandparents or grand-parents ate. Very little processed foods, homemade, organic (that was norm), whole foods and fresh ingredients. It’s really not that difficult, and this treat whips up in about 10 minutes and cooks in only 25.  Be prepared for a taste sensation – and try NOT eat the whole pan in one day.


Oatmeal Bars


Yield about 20-32 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil or softened butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 – 1 cup pecan halves (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease an 8×12″ stone baking dish and set aside.
  • In a large bowl or mixer, mash the banana.
  • Add the oil and brown sugar. Beat on medium until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
  • Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients mixing slowly until combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  • Spread mixture evenly into pan.
  • In a pattern, carefully place pecan halves in a row on top of the mixture.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden.
  • Let cool before cutting into squares.