On the Bandwagon

I don’t often follow, or even really notice, food fads. For instance, I completely missed out on that whole molten chocolate cake craze until this past June. I made a batch of Dorie Greenspan’s Korova cookies for Christmas in 2005, without a clue that they would become popular enough to rename World Peace Cookies in her Baking book of 2006—maybe I was actually ahead of the curve on that one. And I’ve never yet made a loaf of no-knead bread, popularized by the New York Times article, though I do mean to try it at some point.

The current foodblog fashion trend was also set by the Times, and this was one I couldn’t resist for long: big, chewy, golden brown chocolate chip cookies adapted from a recipe by Jacques Torres. Even though my heart will always lie with David Lebovitz’s low-and-slow recipe, I can’t help but try out other variations.

The Torres cookies are good ones indeed, and I can see what all the fuss is about. They have that classic flavor, with tons of bittersweet chocolate and just the right balance of buttery crunch and chewy innards. I divided my dough between two baking days (after about 24 and 72 hours, respectively), some plain and some sprinkled with fleur de sel. I didn’t have quite enough cake flour, so about an ounce of that was subbed with all-purpose. I used a 1/3 cup measure for a total of 2 dozen cookies, and baked some for 19 minutes, the rest for 16.

What we thought: While warm, all I could taste was chocolate (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips). Once they had cooled, all the cookies stayed soft in the center, though we both preferred the texture of the 16-minute cookies, which looked very underdone coming out of the oven. I liked the salt-sprinkled cookies more than Jeremy did, since he isn’t a huge salt fan, but since I also like dipping my cookies in milk, and salt + milk = yuck, I ended up leaving the salt off all the 72-hour cookies for that purpose.

I like the advance prep aspect of this recipe, since I could make the dough while Nolan was napping and then bake at my next opportunity, but the cold dough was a pain to work with. If I use this recipe again, I’m going to portion the dough before chilling it, and then let it rest as 1/3-cup pucks, stacked in a container between sheets of waxed paper. I’m still not entirely convinced they were worth the extra trouble of waiting for the dough to rest 36 hours, however; a more scientific comparison might be in order, baking off both freshly made and well-rested batches of dough. 🙂 Either way, you can hardly go wrong with fresh chocolate chip cookies, so I understand the wave of popularity!

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C minus 2 T (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 C (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 C) unsalted butter
1 1/4 C (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 C plus 2 T (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 lb bittersweet chocolate disks or chips, 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 in and incorporate gently. 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. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 16 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. Eat warm, with a big napkin, or cooled, with a big glass of milk. Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Source: New York Times

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