|Om nom nom!|
I've got a bit of a sweet tooth. I know, I know, it's hard to believe... but it's true. To be completely honest, sometimes I don't even get past the dough portion of making cookies. It's an understatement to say I like them under-baked. Then again, there's really no pleasure to be had from dunking raw dough into milk, so there is that.
Yes, I'm a bit of a Cookie Monster. I am of the belief that there is no such thing as a 'bad cookie'. Any variety will do, but I will always have a place in my stomach for the classic chocolate chip.
As many of you already know, this has been a very special month. I've set out on a mission to complete 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days, and as the month is drawing to an end I can honestly say I have no intention of stopping there. I've always enjoyed finding little ways to make people smile, but pushing myself to think about it every single day has honestly made me smile... a lot! Of course, there are some days when I think it would be an act of kindness to just stay in bed... but then the moment passes and I'm back to plotting my next good deed.
Some of my favorites from the past week have been volunteering at a local food bank, writing a nice letter to an old babysitter of mine, and leaving change on parking meters for people to use. Oh, and these cookies!
I made these cookies, and restrained myself from eating them all long enough to set some aside as gifts. I packaged the cookies individually in little boxes, with this note:
"Sometimes me think, "what is friend?" and then me say, "friend is someone to share the last cookie with." - Cookie Monster
Then I boxed them up and mailed them off to friends of mine! I addressed the packages "From: The Cookie Monster", but somehow everyone managed to figure out who they were really from... I can't imagine what gave it away.Now, there are a lot of recipes out there for chocolate chip cookies... in fact, a quick web-search results in over a dozen "Best" recipes - "Best chocolate chip cookies", "Best EVER chocolate chip cookies", "ULTIMATE chocolate chip cookies!" - alright, already! But did you know that every chocolate chip cookie recipe out there is, technically, adapted from Tollhouse? That's right - when you look up chocolate chip cookies and you see Tollhouse "Original", they aren't lying, because they invented them. The story goes that Ruth Wakefield, owner of The Tollhouse Inn, was mixing up a batch of sugar cookies when she decided to add (or accidentally added, as the story varies) some Nestle semisweet chocolate. Thus was born the chocolate chip cookie. Of course, there are plenty of recipes that differ from the original now, but they all hang from the branches of the Tollhouse Family Tree. (Some of my favorite variations include mixing up the chocolate, nuts, and extracts, or swapping some of the softened butter for browned butter - divine!)
For these specific cookies, I decided to try the New York Time's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, which has been floating around the interwebs with many rave reviews. The primary difference between this recipe and Tollhouse is the use of both cake flour and bread flour - which, when combined, make a very close approximation of all-purpose flour. Amazing! The recipe also uses more leavening, less egg to flour ratio, and insists on chilling the dough overnight before baking (something I like to do with any chocolate chip cookie recipe anyway).
The recipe mixed up perfectly, and baked a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies. However, unlike many a food blogger before me, I am not prepared to call them the "Best" or the "Ultimate". They're very good, but just good. I thought they turned out a little crunchy for my taste.
Of course, I am a Cookie Monster, so that didn't stop me.
So instead of giving you yet another chocolate chip cookie recipe, I thought I would give you a few tips on how to bake-up a batch of cookies that looks like the best, the ultimate, the most perfect cookies ever. Also, I've got a few notes on packaging and shipping cookies, for those who might be interested in recreating my little stunt.
- Refrigerate the dough - for most chocolate chip cookie recipes, refrigerating the dough overnight will help it to spread and brown more evenly. The dough will become fairly solid once chilled, so instead of scooping or spooning them onto the tray you will need to break off chunks and roll them into balls. I find this helps make the cookies perfectly round, and evenly sized.
- Preheat the oven well in advance - it can take some ovens as long as fifteen to twenty minutes to fully preheat. Also, I suggest having an oven thermometer to be sure the oven reaches the proper temperature - too hot, and your cookies will burn!
- Do not grease the pan - if anything, place your cookies on a silpat or parchment paper. Do not grease the pan unless the recipe specifies to do so, as this can cause your cookies to spread like pancakes.
- Extra chocolate - once your dough is portioned out onto the pan, stick a few extra chocolate chips (or chunks of chocolate) onto the top. This will make the cookies come out with a truly picture-perfect appearance! (See the photos above)
- If you plan to mail your cookies - bake them the same day you plan to ship them. Have food-safe boxes or tins, tissue paper, and any other packing supplies already on hand.
- For packaging - always let the cookies cool completely before wrapping them up to ship. Once completely cooled, seal the cookies in a plastic baggie, and then inside of a box or tin. The baggie will keep the cookies clean, and the box will help keep them from getting damaged. This can then be placed in a larger cardboard box for shipping, along with plenty of bubble-wrap, tissue paper, or packing peanuts.
- Shipping - I suggest using priority mail, which typically arrives within 2-3 days of the ship date, and for me cost just over five bucks a package (this will vary depending on weight). If you're mailing a larger package, you might want to try flat-rate boxes. Always ship cookies, and other perishables, near the beginning of the week, or else they may end up sitting around over the weekend. Some cookies ship better than others, so try not to choose something too delicate, or that might go bad before it arrives.
- For more tips on packaging and shipping cookies - check out this post from Julie over at The Little Kitchen: Packaging and Shipping Cookies
As for the recipe you choose, well, that's up to you. If you'd like to try the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies, just click for the recipe. Or you can try this Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, or maybe these Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt, or perhaps you might be interested in a batch of Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies... yes, you heard me. Or, just stick with your own favorite recipe. Whatever floats your cookie-lovin' boat.
Speaking of which... what is your favorite chocolate chip cookie? I'm still looking for mine, and would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
To see a round-up of all of my Random Acts of Kindness from this month, click here: 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days (and then some!)