Sunday, March 1, 2009

OUR FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE


Baking good cookies usually doesn't happen the first time a novice baker pulls out a recipe, cookie sheet and a mixer. Nope. Even that first time you slice into a roll of prepared cookie dough, chances are you're gonna be disappointed with the results. Too many things can go wrong if you aren't experienced in the fine art of baking cookies. You have to have a dependable oven, and by that I mean one that doesn't fluctuate in temperature 50 to 75 degrees, and you better know the difference in baking times for a dark colored, light colored, or shiny cookie sheet. Do you really have to put the cookies 2 inches apart? And do you grease the pan even if the batter has a whole stick (or two) of butter in it? What difference does it make if I don't know if the flour in my canister is All Purpose or Self Rising? And nobody who doesn't bake regularly has brown sugar on hand that isn't as hard as a brick.....surely you can just double the amount of regular sugar the recipe calls for. Right? I can...right? Hmmmmm....
People, this is why some folks who cook don't bake. It's like chemistry. An exact science. Strict guidelines. You have to measure. And plan ahead...... like making sure you have some ingredients at room temperature. Don't try to mix in that stick of butter straight from the fridge. Ain't gonna happen.
Even the prepared cookie dough in the tube can fail miserably if you get any of the aforementioned rules wrong. The wrong pan or 25 degrees too hot or even when it says bake for 9 to 11 minutes and you're off by 1 minute and you start smelling that cookie smell.....by then it's probably too late and you're cookies bottoms are toast. It takes time, patience and batches of cookies to begin to feel remotely confident that every batch you bake is gonna turn out great. The margin for error is high simply because too many things can go wrong.
I do not use shiny cookie sheets anymore. I keep a thermometer in my oven. I buy parchment paper now. But most importantly, I read the recipe all the way through before I begin and I follow the recipe exactly. Using real measuring cups with actual amounts listed on the side and measuring spoons. A measuring teaspoon spoon and a measuring tablespoon spoon. I guess you could say I act more grown up when I'm baking. I save the experimentation and over seasoning for the more easily adaptable (or repairable) casseroles and meat loafs.
I have to admit that since I really applied myself a few years ago my baking has improved. I don't play around when I'm baking. I'm dead serious and not nearly as much fun as I am when I get to pull out all my herbs and spices, cheeses and creams. Nope, not much fun until after the baking, that is. Then it's payday!! There's nothing like that bite of something chocolaty or gooey when it's still warm from the oven. I am a Hero then. A real chip off the ole June Cleaver!
I'm still not as confident baking as I am with my pots and pans, skillets and grills, but I'm gonna keep at it till I can call myself a baker and mean it. And I'll scrape the brown bottoms of cookies in the meantime!!
Below is our favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe here at The Schmidt House.....Nothing fancy here and no big secrets. I got it off the bag of Gold Medal flour a coupla Christmas' ago and they're great. So be brave... and get your butter out, check your brown sugar and cut you some sheets of parchment paper. We're gonna bake us some cookies!!!
BUTTERY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (24 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (4 cups)

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Mix butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs in large bowl using spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Drop dough by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool. Pat yourself on the back and ENJOY!!!
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