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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Great Cookie Experiment & 2 year bloggiversary!



Today is my Two year bloggiversary! Hard to believe, it has flown by. I initially started blogging all my baking adventures to be able to keep track of the recipe's I've made more easily - so that when I wanted to make something again, I could look back in my Bloggity Archives, see the pictures to remind me which recipe it is, find the recipe there, and any feedback I included in my post that I received from the recipe by taste testers. Ice Cream Before Dinner has turned into much more than a blog of recipe storage. As I am sure all of you feel, it is a great way to connect with other baking enthusiasts. I went from snapping photos documentary-style, just to get a picture, to building my own little light box to attempt to take nicer pictures. I've come a long way from baking just my favorite, tried-and-true recipes, to making things far outside of my comfort-zone. So thank you to anyone who might read this little old thing, and thank you for taking the time out to make comments. I really appreciate every single one :)

I decided I had to do something special for my bloggiversary. Should I make a fancy 3 tiered cake, painstakingly decorated with fondant and gum paste? Try a complicated new recipe the likes of which I have never tried before? Mmmm, No. I decided I'd go the Classic Route. I know in the past few months, ever since the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie article came out there has been a lot of discussion about WHO MAKES THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE, but I decided that it needed to be revisited.... for the most part because I've never tried the NY Times Recipe, or many of the other recipes others claim to be "The Best". I wanted to taste test them myself and decide for myself! (And also, because someone did Daniel a favor at work, and as payment, he promised them chocolate chip cookies). so THE GREAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE EXPERIMENT was born!!!

The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment
I selected THREE different chocolate chip cookie recipes that I found many other bloggers called "their favorite" or "THE BEST". To be fair, I altered the recipes a wee bit. I used the same type of chocolate in all of them, made the same size cookies, and refrigerated all of them for the same amount of time (regardless of whether the original recipe called for chilling or not). This way, all of the recipes would have fair chance of winning - so no one's opinions would be altered by "i like dark chocolate better than semisweet," etc. Then, I also decided to do each recipe TWO WAYS: one batch with sea salt, one batch without sea salt.

The Contenders:
1. Adapted from Jacques Torres, as seen in the New York Times: Click here for article & original recipe.
2. Adapted from "The Chewy" from Alton Brown: click here for original recipe.
3. Adapted from "The Great Book of Chocolate" by David Lebovitz: click here for an adaptation of the original recipe

Chilling time: 36 hours.
Chocolate Chips: Semisweet chocolate chips





MY ADAPTATIONS OF THE RECIPES:

The New York Times cookie:
(original recipe)
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 C bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
2 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted, softened
1 1/4 C light brown sugar
1 C + 2 Tblspn white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp madagascar or mexican vanilla
16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Extra Sea Salt

Sift the flours, baking soda and powder, and salt together in a bowl, and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 min. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract, and reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined - don't overmix. Drop in chocolate chips and stir a little more just to incorporate. Place dough in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
After 36 hours, preheat to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Scoop dough balls (about 2 tablespoons each) and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. For half of the cookies, sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake until golden brown and still soft - about 13 - 20 minutes (depending on your cookie size). Place cookie sheet on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove cookies to cool directly on wire rack until cool.


The Chewy:
(original recipe)
1 stick of butter, unsalted, softened
1 1/8 C bread flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 C granulated sugar
1/2 C + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
A little less than 1 large egg. (I know, I'm weird. Lightly beat it and use about 3/4 of it in the recipe)
1 tablespoon whole milk
3/4 Tsp madagascar or mexican vanilla
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a saucepan set on low heat. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together & set aside. Pour the melted butter in a mixing bowl. Add the sugars, and then cream the butter & sugars together. Add the egg, the milk and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Stir in the chips.
Chill the dough in the frig for 36 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat to 375. Scoop 2-Tablespoon amounts of dough onto parchment lined sheet, Sprinkle sea salt on half of the dough balls, and bake for about 12 - 18 minutes (again, depends on your cookie size) or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on the cookie pan, then remove cookies to cool directly on wire rack until cool.


The David Lebovitz Cookie:
(an adaptation of the original recipe; David Lebovitz's blog; & where to buy The Great Book of Chocolate)
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 large egg
1 tsp madagascar or mexican vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 C flour
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/3 C semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the cold butter and the sugar together. When mixed and smooth, add in the egg, vanilla, baking soda and salt. When incorporated, add the flour and stir by hand. Add the chips and stir just until mixed in. Chill in refrigerator for 36 hours.
When ready to bake, make 2-Tablespoon sized balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Press tops down slightly. Sprinkle sea salt on half of the dough balls. Bake for about 16 - 22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to rack to cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then remove cookie to cool directly on rack.


Taste testers were all given:


RESULTS:

Ok, this is a tough one. Everyone preferred different cookies. But one thing was a hands down decision: The cookies WITH sea salt were preferred over those without. Mm Yummy. I think I liked the David Lebovitz cookies the best. One taste tester agreed. Two others liked the NY Times. One liked the Chewy. Another liked the texture of The Chewy the best, but the flavor of The New York times and David Lebovitz better. One did NOT like the chewy's flavor (I think that taste tester might not like Brown Sugar taste). SO THE CONCLUSION: All of these chocolate chip cookie recipes are total winners. I know, such a lame answer, right? Each of the recipes had their strong points: The Chewy was really nice and soft and chewy. And the flavor of the Lebovitz and Torres recipes really were delicious. I'd make ALL of these recipes again. My own personal faves: Probably the Lebovitz with the Torres coming in at a close, close, close second place.

16 comments:

pinkstripes said...

How cool! I don't have the discipline to do an experiment.

Happy bloggiversary!

Megan said...

I'm just bummed I wasn't able to participate in the tasting. I'm good at that kind of stuff!

Which of course is just an excuse to eat more cookies!

Risa said...

I wish I could ave been one of your taste testers! Congratulations on making it two years!

oneordinaryday said...

I wish I was one of your taste testers. I think I'm gonna have to make chocolate chip cookies soon.

Gina said...

Happy bloggiversary! I'm going to have to try the Lebovitz and NYTimes cookie recipes. The Chewy has been my favorite for years, but I'm certainly open to new chocolate chip cookie recipes! Thanks for the experiment!

Jennifer Lynn Jordan said...

UGH you need to do a blogsperiment in NY so I can be a taster!!! =D

Ingrid said...

WOW, TWO, years! You've come a long way baby! :)

What a fun experiment but ah, Daniel didn't tell? I did him a favor and he said that I'd be paid back in cookies, lots of yummy chocolate chips cookies? Ah, do you want my addy now or should I just email it to you?! LOL!

Happy Blogiversary! Hope this next year is even better!
~ingrid

Donna-FFW said...

LOVE your experiment. I am always trying out new CCC and I will try your favorite. They all look like winners to me.
Congrats on 2 years!

Kerstin said...

Congrats on 2 years! I love your experiment :)

Sweetie said...

happy 2 years! you've got some great recipes to show for the effort.

neat experiment! i've only done the the "best, big, fat chewy cookie" from allrecipes: (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Best-Big-Fat-Chewy-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie/Detail.aspx)

just based on appearances, i'd have to go with the NYT recipe : )

Tracey said...

Wow, happy blogiversary! What a fun comparison - I would never have the patience but I always enjoy seeing the outcome :)

Elyse said...

Happy blogiversary! Two years is so impressive. I love that you celebrated with a chocolate chip cookie bake-off! What an awesome idea. I must say that ALL of these cookies look fantastic. Great job!

Laura said...

Happy Bloggiversary! This is the best experiment ever! I have been wanting to try all these "talked about" recipes. I only wish I was one of your taste testers...!

sliceofsueshe said...

Congrats on your bloggiversary.

I still haven't found my fav cc cookie yet. I'm still testing. ;-)

Mermaid Sweets said...

What a great post and happy bloggiversary.

Smitten Sugar said...

Wow all these pictures of cookies just made me hungry! love that you did a experiment with this...wish I could have tested them :)

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