Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#cookiequest: Round 2

Round 2 took just as much time to make, but felt way more informed.  I had my basic recipes behind me and the real fun began...true experimenting.  Again, I did my research.  Enough that my head was literally hurting and I had to verbally tell myself out loud to get away from the computer (I kinda like to second guess myself and read everything I can!)

This time, I jumped into 4 more recipes

A - Paige Greenway's take on Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie - substitute Bread flour
B - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie - substitute bread flour - this one has cake and bread flour in it already and no salt
C - Neiman Marcus $250 Chocolate Chip Cookie - substitute in Bread Flour for All-Purpose, add 1 egg yolk to off set and leave out espresso powder - note significant difference already that this recipe has 3 times as much brown sugar as white.
D - Martha Stewart Soft and Chewy (very similar to Toll House basic recipe) - sub in Bread Flour for All-Purpose and use Milk Chocolate chips instead - this one already has more brown sugar than white and twice as much vanilla

After tasting the dough on the first ones and researching the ingredients in the original and substitutes, I was convinced that I could very well have it. 

Mixing looked the same here except figured out something.  Mixing sugar and butter is a lot different than truly creaming them.  One recipe called for you to mix them, then turn the beaters up higher and "beat until white and fluffy".  Hello.  The two get beat together and married in the mixing bowl and I learned that white is something you wear on your wedding day, even if you are a 2 sticks of butter and brown sugar.  That made a huge difference in the texture of the cookie. 

I didn't even bother making the cookies right after I mixed them.  I scooped them while they were fresh and put them in containers in the fridge where I could have my very own break and bake ready for the next day.

I really wish I had taken a picture of my labels and containers.  This experiment was definitely brought you by a new package of index cards.  They held up well, given the fact I accidentally cooked a couple of them with the cookies!
 
We had a simple "blind" tasting in the office.  I let them pick more than one "favorite" since a couple were really close.  There were strong opinions that 1 was not good - well, it just didn't bake up right.  Some had a hard time deciding between 2 and there was no opinion at all about C2.  But, B2 made its way in everyone's vote.  I knew there had to be something there.  






I baked up a set for my family.  After all I was going to be with the woman who taught me to cook and the man who fed me my first cookie.  It only seemed fitting to let them weigh in on the decision.
 
And, because they can appreciate my nerdy in only a special way...I made a spreadsheet score card.  Something about it felt very official and it was cheap entertainment.  So, following our family tradition on vegetable stew the night before Thanksgiving, we devoured chocolate chip cookies. 
 
The rules were that everyone was to keep their opinion to themselves before sharing with the group.  The 3 that I share a last name with picked the same cookie.  Yes, the same cookie that the group in my office had agreed was in their top.  That sweet boy across the table grew up on store bought cookies...so, he like the one that was a copy cat recipe of a store bought cookie that was all know and love.  (we are still teaching him what homemade tastes like!)


Seemed to me that if mom, dad and sister picked the same cookie I did, the I needed to pay attention.  Seemed to me that if mom, dad and sister picked the same cookie that the people in my office picked, then I needed to pay attention. 


So, I'm thinking we may have a winner! (come back tomorrow...you might, well you know....)

Conclusions:
  • People will like being your friend if they always get to taste test cookies. 
  • Your boss will let you take a morning team break if it involves taste testing cookies.
  • Spreadsheets make the world a happier place.
  • Creaming (whipping) the butter and sugars is a must.
  • Definitely stick to the 24 hours chilling (probably true about most things in life...not just making cookies!)
  • Something happens with the Butter Crisco and the Bread Flour.  Not a good combination.  Or I might have messed up...but they baked up like little rocks.
  • If 4 out of 4 in your family pick the same cookie...there might be something there.
  • If 5 out of 5 of your co-workers put a cookie in the top 2 choices, then you should pay attention.
  • If both sets pick the same cookie you picked as your favorite...well, its time to stop obsessing and start #questing for something else.

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