Thursday, 17 March 2011

Celebrating a Belated Chocolate Chip Cookie Week

Earlier this week, I read that there was such a week of celebration as Chocolate Chip Week. The article I read must have been outdated, as it turns out it is celebrated during the second week of March, not the third. Not having known this until just now in fact, I can at least claim I had been celebrating St. Patrick's Day all day today (and some folks on campus can attest to this). And to be fair, the third week is apparently American Chocolate Week. So much chocolate!!

In any case, today's baking adventure was an experiment of sorts, based on the first ever recipe I used for my first batch of made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies. From the Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever! recipe for "Blue-Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies" (page 6), I present to you a rather luckily successful recipe for my Green Choco-Mint Chip Cookies.

This recipe uses some fairly common ingredients, though you do need to make sure you've got the essential ingredient: green food colouring, of course!

To begin, preheat your oven to 300 °F and then cream a stick of butter. Naturally, you may turn to a hand mixer to get the job done, but if you find yourself without one or, in my case, have a broken one, I did figure a sort of "cannelle-and-scrape" method works just, as well. It took about 10 min to get it to the right consistency (whereas the hand mixer would take about 2-3 min), but it's all good in the end... labour of love, for sure! In a separate bowl, combine well 1/4 c packed dark brown sugar with 1/2 c granulated sugar; take note this is a reverse measurement ratio than the original recipe, as the batter needs to be as light as possible for the food colouring. Incorporate this sugar mixture into the butter in small (perhaps 1/4 or 1/5 of the mix at a time) batches; I found that continuing with the cannelle-and-scrape method does this beautifully.

In a separate bowl, beat an egg really well; then beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract. Using a strong whisk (here, I used a spiral hand whisk), slowly incorporate the butter-sugar mix into the egg (again, divide by 4 or 5, to determine "a bit of the mix"). The form of the spiral hand whisk is helpful in making sure the butter and sugar separate and better dissolve into the egg. The batter at this point should represent a less viscous crunchy peanut butter. Next, again, "a bit at a time," incorporate 1 c all-purpose flour into the batter. The whisk (as opposed to a spatula) really helps at this point to incorporate the flour, as the batter will get tougher. Keep mixing until the batter begins to clump together and can "clean" the side of the bowl.

Now, it's time to get this batter looking green! Still using the whisk, add in the food colouring and continue stirring until the batter no longer changes colour. Click here to see what the batter looks like after 10 drops of green (about 1/8 tsp). The above photo is what you'll get after 25 total drops of green food colouring, i.e., something that resembles wasabi in colour and visual texture. At this point, you're soon ready to work; just be sure you mix in 1/2 c each chopped mint chocolate candies and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Using a dining teaspoon as a general guide, take an approximated teaspoon of dough and divide it into thirds. Situate the three rounds into the leaves of the shamrock on a lightly greased baking tray, and take a little bit of dough to form the stem. Use a frosting knife (or some other non-serrated knife) to make indentations to help better divide the leaves. Don't cut all the way through the dough, only about halfway! ...or else the cookie will separate as it bakes.

About halfway through, you should start smelling the cookies baking, and when you open the oven door after a total of 15 minutes, you should smell a great familiar minty odour. Take the tray out of the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the tray for 5 minutes. As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, re-indent the cookies as you had done before putting them in. Again, be careful not to slice all the way through! After the 5 minutes, use a spatula to gently nudge the cookies on the tray.

With a distinct odour of chocolate mint, these cookies are great any time of the day. Additionally, you may even forget you're eating a chocolate chip cookie; they're that "deceptively" great. This recipe yields 25 shamrock cookies, depending on how big the shamrocks are, of course.

For the complete photo album, click here.

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