Saturday, April 14, 2012

Baker's Corner - Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


As with my previous recipe post, this one is also baking-related. I'm making up on lost time to bake as many sweet treats as possible! Chocolate chip cookies have always been on my baking agenda. I'm not a fan of the crunchy-crumbly kind of cookies....I prefer the soft-chewy kind. So, as always, I began hunting for a recipe for Chocolate chip cookies. I came across this recipe called 'Award winning soft chocolate chip cookies' on all recipes.com. The title indeed caught my attention! I thought it looked pretty good and decided to give it a go. 

Before I move on to the recipe, I'd like to share some baking facts with you. I've always been quite perplexed as to when to use baking powder and when to use baking soda while preparing baked goodies. A light background reading brought me to the understanding that both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (like yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat! On the other hand, baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but the majority of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven. 

Some recipes call for baking soda, while others call for baking powder. Which ingredient is used depends on the other ingredients in the recipe. The ultimate goal is to produce a tasty product with a pleasing texture. Baking soda is basic and will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk. You'll find baking soda in cookie recipes. Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has an overall neutral effect in terms of taste. Recipes that use baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits. You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you'll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but not the other way around. 

The original recipe of these Chocolate Chip Cookies called for baking soda alone but I decided to use a combination of baking soda and powder as you will see below. The results were great. The cookies turned a lovely brown, they were soft and chewy on the inside but still crisp on the outside and there was absolutely no aftertaste of the baking soda. My cookie jar was empty within hours!

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it. I will be whipping up many more batches for sure! 


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 9 - 12 minutes
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Makes: 30 - 40 small cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (depending on your preference)
1 cups chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder (I sifted the dry ingredients twice). Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar (preferably using an electric whisk). Add in the instant pudding mix (the dry powder) and whisk until well blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract. Blend in the flour mixture in small batches until all traces of flour disappears. Do not over mix. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. 
  3. Refrigerate the cookie dough for a few hours. This step is optional but it makes handling the dough so much easier!
  4. Use a melon baller or a teaspoon to collect the cookie dough. Roll into balls and place on baking/parchment paper (if you want the cookies to look more rustic, just plop a spoonful down). Leave some space between the cookie dough as the cookies expand during the baking process.
  5. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The cookies should turn golden brown. Place the cookies on a cooling rack for a few minutes to firm them slightly. 
  6. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container. 

Notes:
  • Make sure that all the ingredients used for baking are at room temperature.
  • Measure the flour correctly. Using too much flour can make the cookies tough and dry.
  • It is extremely important that the butter be very soft when you cream it with the sugar. Cold butter will result in crumbly and hard cookies. 
  • If you want more chocolate chips to be visible in the finished product, place a few chips randomly over the cookie dough balls just before placing in the oven.
  • Don't over-bake as the cookies tend to cook a little even after you take them out of the oven owing to the residual heat from the baking sheet. 

References:
Information about baking soda and baking powder http://chemistry.about.com/cs/foodchemistry/f/blbaking.htm

3 comments:

  1. hey great baking tips kane, dint know that choosing between baking soda/powder was so critical!

    ReplyDelete
  2. love the theory and details!! Your blogs just keep getting better and better. Now I demand some healthy non-sweet baking recipes (I hate frying) :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you! Yeah actually that is next on my agenda :) I want to bake something like masala bread that serves as a quick breakfast. Adarsh made baked savoury rice on my birthday and it was pretty awesome :)

    ReplyDelete

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