If you’ve been in my house, you know that I have just a few cookbooks. But, I can ALWAYS use just a few more. I was excited to win a copy of Cookie Love by Mindy Segal in a drawing from my friends at Eat Your Books. I’ve been working on a few cookie recipes, so I was looking forward to reading some of the tips and tricks this book would have.
If you don’t know, Mindy has been a pastry chef at a number of the top restaurants in Chicago before opening her own restaurant Hot Chocolate. Last year, the IACP Conference was in Chicago and the optional city tour I took was one on Vanilla and Chocolate. Gale Gand was our tour guide and had selected Hot Chocolate as the restaurant for us to eat lunch. (The tour included a visit to the Nielsen Massey Vanilla Plant and the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy). So I’ve had the opportunity to eat some of Mindy’s creations. They did serve us a cookie platter (standard fare at Hot Chocolate) as part of dessert. The cookies were all excellent.
There are several of the recipes that jumped out at me – recipes like Smoky Bacon Candy Bar Cookies, Leopard Print: Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Shortbread with Hot Fudge, Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread with Milk Chocolate Caramel and several others. While the bacon cookies were REALLY calling my name, I think the way to judge a cookie person is by their basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. So I decided to try out the recipe for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies to see how these recipes are going to be…….
Since this is really more of a recipe testing exercise, it is CRITICAL to follow the ingredients and method exactly – otherwise, I’m judging my variation on her recipe. The nice thing about the way the recipes in this book are written is that Mindy is very exacting in the recipes. Very detailed on both the ingredients and the method (You can see the ingredients and text of the recipe below.)
I started by gathering everything that was listed in the ingredient list. I started with the butter in the mixer, then added the sugar and beat it until it was very pale and fluffy. (As an aside, I generally do that, but in researching some other cookie recipes, I’ve found a very solid source that said not to “over-cream” the butter and sugar as it does bad things to cookies…..isn’t cooking fun!)
I will say I had a question at the next step as I cracked the eggs into a bowl and added the vanilla. I really wanted to beat the eggs lightly, but it didn’t say to do that. I assumed I was to leave the eggs whole and then add the eggs one at a time from the small bowl.
I added the eggs and the dough did separate when I first added the eggs as I expected, but mine didn’t get to resemble cottage cheese. I did deviate from the recipe a little here as I use a beaterblade with my mixer and I don’t really need to stop and scrape the sides.
The next step was to add the dry ingredients “all at once” and mix on low. Even on low, my mixer sent a bit of flour out and onto the counter. I mixed to just bring it together and switched to handling the dough by hand using a plastic bench scraper. The dough is one of the softest cookie doughs I’ve ever used. I understand completely why it needs to rest and firm in the refrigerator. I’m betting if you baked it as soon as it was done, you would have a very thin cookie as it would have spread into a puddle. I finished the dough and worked in the chocolate chips.
I put down a piece of plastic wrap and moved the dough to the plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. (Since it was Saturday afternoon, it went in the refrigerator about 3PM and I then cooked them about 1PM on Sunday – almost 24 hours later).
Sunday Afternoon: I took the dough from the refrigerator. It is now a very stiff and solid dough. I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop out the cookies. I did not flatten them as it said to leave them in a pile – I wasn’t sure how the spread would be, so I waited to see how the first batch did in the oven. The recipe says it makes about 42 cookies – I got 52 out using this scoop.
Once the oven was heated up, I put the first pan into the oven. Set the timer for 8 minutes, then rotated the pan. Set the timer for another 4 minutes – but the sides weren’t really starting to brown so I added one minute. After the extra minute, they looked as described so I removed the sheet pan from the oven and sat it to cool.
In the book, she warns about leaving the cookies on the hot sheet pan and in the recipe, she said to let cool for 1-2 minutes and move to a cooling rack. I went the 2 minute route to let the cookies firm up just a bit. I moved them to the cooling rack and then the wait began.
I was already getting the question from the den if they were ready – I told them they needed to cool some, besides, I needed a full cooling rack tray to take a picture. The other members of the house were not happy….
Finally, I got the pictures and told them we could taste the cookies. Now – I do not like most chocolate chip recipes because they are just too sweet or don’t really have any flavor. These cookies though – close to the perfect chocolate chip cookie! They were not too sweet – the brown sugar added a very nice background to the cookie. I really like the darker chocolate with the cookies since it has less sugar as well.
The daughter said one of the best she’s had. The wife (who keeps complaining about me always cooking sweet things) ate several and was swooning.
The verdict? These cookies are just plain awesome! I want to try them with the muscavado sugar (I don’t normally have that, so I did this one with the dark brown sugar option).
Oh – and those Smoky Bacon Candy Bar Cookies on Page 23 – Yes, I WILL be making those! If the rest of the book is anything like the chocolate chip cookies – then this is a great addition to your cookbook collection. And when you are in Chicago – go check out her restaurant at Hot Chocolate.
Recipe – Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Cookie Love by Mindy Segal
1 Cup (8 Ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Cup cane sugar
1 Cup firmly packed light muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (8 ounces) chocolate disks (53% to 64% cacao)
Sea salt, preferably the Cyprus variety, for garnish (Optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugars and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
Crack the eggs into a small cup or bowl and add the vanilla.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, kosher salt, sea salt flakes, baking powder, and baking soda.
On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, one egg at a time, mixing the first briefly before adding the second, until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds for each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until the dough comes together, but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
With the plastic bench scraper, fold the chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate overnight.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a couple of half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pans with nonstick cooking spray.
Using a 3/4-ounce (1 1/2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop, portion the dough into 12 mounds. Be mindful that the chocolate pieces are evenly distributed among the mounds. Evenly space the mounds on a prepared sheet pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the edges begin to caramelize and the tops set, approximately 4 more minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.