Monday, June 18, 2007

Ode to Cookies

I love to bake. I love everything about it: Buying ingredients, mixing them all together, having the entire apartment smell like fresh goodies, the look on friends' faces when they realize something is in the oven, that first "mmmm" when they take a bite, having tins of homemade sweets standing around...I love it all.

It all started out much simpler: I loved eating. Cookies in particular. So when I moved to Austria, I imported huge tubs of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough each time I visited home. I had this tiny little refrigerator compartment in my dorm kitchen and at least 2/3 of it was always filled with cookie dough. All of my dorm friends loved me for it.

However, the time came when I did not visit DC as often anymore and so my cookie dough supply quickly disappeared. And I had no choice: If I wanted to keep eating fresh cookies, I was going to have to bake them myself. I baked them for desert, for picnics, for birthdays. I even baked them with my (40!) kids at camp (who always just called me "Cookie" instead of Cathi) and my little cousin (who said, when I spilled flour all over the floor: "Mommy does it better, right?").

Recently I have begun to branch out and am experimenting with all sorts of recipes: oatmeal raisin cookies, Swistle's Ranger cookies, banana-nut muffins, apple-carrot muffins, Mars bar muffins, brownies and so forth. I try to bake something new once a week and I am loving it.

When I heard about the Cookie Challenge, I knew I had to participate. My chocolate chip cookie recipe is not very original (off the back of the Nestle Toll House Morsels package), but by now I have perfected it. Scroll to the end of the post to find the recipe in European measurements (since any American can just look at the back of the chocolate chip bag) and some tips that you may or may not already know. And for the best step-by-step instructions, complete with pictures, click yourself on over to this post from December 2005, where I had some eager volunteers (men in aprons!). I promise you, it is worth it.

Oh, how I miss this aisle.

Yes, we ate all of those. And more.

Giant cookie.

Preparing for a picnic.


My eager little bakers at camp.

They could hardly await taking their first bite.
Most of these girls had never tasted chocolate chip cookies before!

The next generation.
We made the dough on the living room floor
because her baby brother was asleep in the room next to the kitchen.
Never wake a sleeping baby,
not even for cookies!

And doing it all with a smile.

Study break.

And now for the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies


300g all-purpose flour
100g sugar
100g brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 pack of vanilla sugar (or 3 tsp of vanilla extract)
250g butter
2 large eggs
1 large bar of baking chocolate, chopped into small pieces (Alas, they do not have chocolate chips in Austria!)

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2) Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
3) Mix butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla sugar in a large bowl with a mixer, until the batter is creamy.
4) Add each egg separately, beating well after each addition.
5) Gradually add the flour mixture.
6) Add chocolate pieces.
7) Drop by rounded table spoon on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave some room between the cookies, they need room to grow :) You do not need to flatten the little heaps of dough.
8) Bake at 180 degrees for about 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are just barely golden brown.

Makes about four dozen cookies.

For the original American version of the recipe, click here. (Oh yeah, I always leave out the nuts.)

And now for my tips (I love cookies when they are kind of chewy. If you want crunchy cookies, these are not the right tips for you :)

* Always use real butter, not margarine.
* Carefully melt the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave set on very low before adding it to the batter.
* Add a tablespoon of milk to the batter right before adding the chocolate.
* Make sure the baking sheets are completely cool before setting the dough on them. If they are warm, the edges will melt too quickly and become darker and crispy before the rest of the cookie. This is a bit time consuming if you are making several batches, but so worth it.
* It is better to bake the cookies on a pretty low setting and a little longer, if you want them to be chewy. Take them out of the oven when they are just barely getting brown.
* EDITED TO ADD: If you are making several batches, put the dough in the fridge while the other cookies are in the oven. Keeping the dough cool serves the same purpose as making sure that the baking sheets are cool: less melting, therefore less crispy edges. Almost forgot this tip :)

And most importantly: Have fun and enjoy!

By the way, I am always happy about new recipes to try out, so feel free to leave some suggestions. Even new versions of chocolate chip cookies.

I really love to bake.


Swistle said...

No chocolate chips in Austria???

Great post!

Shannon said...

Wonderful post!!! Now I have to get moving and do a write-up on cookies! Yours definitely will make me think harder about mine!

Thank you!!!!

Anonymous said...

Cookie, where are you?????????
bussi, ella

Awesome Mom said...

Those cookie tips are awesome!! I will have to remember them next time I make some cookies.

Catharina said...

Thank you all for stopping by, I've also been enjoying all of your cookie posts!