I've been on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. A few weeks ago, I had the middle schoolers I teach at a local youth center make the Nielsen-Massey chocolate cookie recipe I've been meaning to try for years. Recommended to me by a dear fellow baker friend of mine, I knew we could do no wrong with this one. They couldn't have come out more perfect, really. They were slightly crispy around the edges and evenly puffed from the middle out, so they were nice and chewy on the inside with some crunch to the edges. In fact, I think they looked quite like anything you'd buy in a box, but then tasted so much better. However, when I got home and tried the same recipe, they came out overly spread-out with hardly any heft to them at all. Like a bunch of flying saucers with chocolate chips in them! Disappointing in my pathetic Frigidaire convection oven (which is really just a mere bunch of gnomes huddled together and blowing from the back--convection my a$$!). In this case, I'd lend the perfection at school to the good ol' trusty Blodgett commercial convection oven. Oh, how I'd love to have one of those aerators in my home! I also think weak home ovens, like the Frigidaire brand in general (the stock developer's appliance from this housing bubble), don't really know what to do with all that butter, and so, well... spread happens.
Next up, I leaned back on my standard staple, Sherry Yard's Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookies. I got her Desserts by the Yard cookbook about a year ago and switched over from the Tollhouse recipe to this then and have never really gone back. Her recipe requires a little less butter and quite a bit less sugar than the Nielsen-Massey one (you'd have to double Sherry's to come up with equal proportions to the Nielsen-Massey one). Again, a much more flat and crispy return than we got at school, but my husband and I actually liked the flavor of these better. I think we are fans of anything with less sugar, so I do believe this will still remain our staple chocolate chipper. One major difference with Sherry's recipe is that she asks you to give it some fridge-chillin' time--an hour or up to overnight. Interesting, since one doesn't really think of cookies as needing any kind of "glutenization" process. So I speculate she's just going for the chill-before-baking plan of action, which helps most cookies keep their shape. I often do this with my giant decorated cookies, chilling them cut and laid out in their pans for 10-15 minutes before baking. This helps keep them from spreading too much and maintains their sturdiness for handling during the decorating process and for packing and shipping. Next time, with Sherry's, I'm going to go for overnight and see if they hold their shape better.
Last but not least, a recipe on the back of the Gold Medal flour bag caught my eye, and I thought I'd try them tonight--Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies. I love oat-anything cookies because somehow, they make me feel less like I'm eating a cookie and more like I've got a granola bar in wolf's clothing! At the risk of sounding rather Goldilocks, these were just right! The gnomes in the back of the oven seemed to make them nice, puffy, and even like the ones at school, but then they were also chewy and crispy in all the right places. With the added heft of the oatmeal, they made the perfect ending to a weekend stuck inside working both days. Here's the recipe, with a special secret ingredient. If you like Indian fusion, you'll love this!
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chai spice blend
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and chai spice. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until well-blended. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (I used a mix of butterscotch, white chocolate, semisweet, and M&Ms!).
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls or with cookie scoop about 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Makes about 3 dozen.