Baking is like doing science experiments, only that you get to eat your final products. There are different ways to tweak a cookie recipe to achieve different flavors and textures. After reading food blogs and articles like this, this, and this, and after
playing experimenting with different types of sugars, flours, butter, and oven temperatures, I was finally able to produce the perfect chocolate chip cookies the way I wanted. My chocolate chip cookies are soft and chewy, and most importantly, not overly sweet. The recipe was adapted (actually a complete makeover) from the Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from my newly purchased book The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet. I use melted brown butter (instead of softened unsalted butter) and bread flour (instead of all purpose flour). Sugar amount is also reduced. Here is how the EC Style cookies are engineered (feel free to skip all these boring stuffs and jump right to the recipe… I won’t blame you…):
- Butter: melted butter traps less air than solid butter so will give cookies a more compact texture. Here, brown butter (beurre noisette) is used to give the cookies a nutty aroma.
- Flour: in order to make the cookies chewier, bread flour which contains more proteins and gluten is used.
- Sugar: sugar doesn’t just add sweetness in baking. Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture from its surrounding. Brown sugar is more hygroscopic than white sugar and therefore makes cookies softer. But since I’ve reduced a lot of sugar in my recipe, I need a type of sugar that is even more hygroscopic than brown sugar, namely dark brown sugar. Moreover, brown butter contains less water than regular unsalted butter. To compensate for this moisture loss, some liquid sugar in syrup form (agave nectar in this case) is added. Read about the other roles of sugar in baking in this good article from Serious Eats here.
- Chocolate chips: dark chocolate chips (60% cocoa) instead of milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips are used to make these cookies less sweet.
玩了幾次做了幾次實驗之後，終於做到了適合自己口味的朱古力粒曲奇。EC要求的朱古力粒曲奇是要軟身及有咬口的，最重要的是不能太甜! 曲奇食譜以EC新買的書The Art & Soul of Baking (作者：Cindy Mushet)中朱古力粒曲奇食譜為藍本，用焦牛油溶液代替原食譜中的室温淡牛油、以高筋麵粉取替中筋麵粉，並且將糖量大減。以下是 EC Style 曲奇的主要成份和結構解剖，沒興趣看的可直接跳到食譜部份，EC不會怪你的…
- 牛油：液態牛油比固態牛油在打發時會混入更少空氣，使曲奇不會變得過於鬆化。EC用了焦牛油(beurre noisette)增添風味，曲奇會有淡淡的堅果香。
- 糖：在烘焙中，糖除了甜味還有更多很重要的作用! 糖是 hygroscopic 的，意思是會吸收周圍的水份。不同種類的糖有不同的吸濕程度，黃糖的吸濕度比白砂糖高，因此軟身的曲奇多數含黃糖。由於EC將食譜的糖量大減，為了維持曲奇軟軟的質地，EC改用吸濕度比黃糖更高的黑糖。鑑於焦牛油比一般牛油少了水份，食譜加入了少量液態糖去彌補水份流失。
If you are a food science geek like me, watch this video by TED Ed to learn about the chemistry behind cookies.
Ok…enough cookie anatomy and chemistry lessons. Let’s go to the recipe now!
EC’s Soft and Chewy Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 20 cookies about 2.5-3 inches in size
85 g brown butter
20 g agave nectar
70 g dark brown sugar
160 g bread flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg (about 50-55 g)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (about 100 g)
焦牛油 85 克
龍舌蘭糖漿 20 克
黑糖 70 克
高筋麵粉 160 克
梳打粉 1/2 茶匙
鹽 1/2 茶匙
大蛋 1隻 (約 50-55 克)
香草醬 1 茶匙
黑朱古力粒 1/2 杯 (約100 克)
To make brown brown：measure and cut 120 g of unsalted butter into chunks then place pieces in a pan. With medium-low heat, cook butter until it melts and bubbles. When the foam subsides and the sizzling sound starts to disappear, watch closely for the color change. When you start to smell the nutty aroma and see the butter turning brown with specks of brown bits on the bottom of the pan, remove pan from heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a bowl to let cool. Butter will burn and turn black easily so pay close attention to the color change when you start to smell the nutty aroma (it smells like Almond Roca to me). This will make 90-95 g of brown butter and we will need only 85 g.
Sift and combine bread flour, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Place 85 g of melted brown butter, dark brown sugar and agave nectar in another mixing bowl and beat with electric or stand mixer until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla bean paste until completely incorporated. The mixture will look shiny and thick. Stir in flour mixture in two batches (I use the lowest speed on my stand mixer. It can be done by hand with a large spatula as well). When the flour mixture is almost incorporated, stir in chocolate chips until you get a sticky dough. Do not overmix.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the dough and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or until dough is not sticky)
About 15 minutes before rolling, preheat your oven to 350ºF/180ºC if you want flatter and bigger cookies, or 375ºF/190ºC if you prefer thicker but smaller cookies. See my notes regarding oven temperatures below.
Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator. Let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes if it is too firm for rolling. Scoop out dough with a spoon or an ice-cream scoop and roll dough into a ball (dough measures about 23 g each). Place balls onto cookie sheet and flatten each to about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until edges are golden brown and the middle is still soft. The cookies will look under baked but the residual heat will continue to bake the dough. You will need to experiment with your own oven in order to determine the perfect baking time. Test with your eyes and fingers (don’t burn yourself).
Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Cookies baked at 350ºF/180ºC. Cashew pieces were added to the dough.
Cookies baked at 375ºF/190ºC. More chocolate chips were added to the top after baking.
My Two Cents EC的小心得
The following pictures show how different oven temperatures affect the cookies in terms of color, size, and thickness. Choose what you prefer then adjust your oven temperature accordingly.
Left: at 350ºF/180ºC, cookie is flatter and wider (3 inches in diameter). Color is a bit lighter but not too noticeable from the picture.
Middle: at 375ºF/190ºC, cookie is thicker and smaller (2.5 inches in diameter).
Right: at 375ºF/190ºC, dough is scooped out with an ice-cream scoop then placed directly onto the baking sheet without rolling and flattening.以下是不同爐温對曲奇顔色、大小及厚薄之比較圖，大家可依喜好自行調整爐温。
For a neater look, extra chocolate chips can be pressed directly onto each cookie right after baking. The heat from the cookies will melt the chocolate chips so they won’t fall off after cooling.
Cookies taken right out from the oven are very fragile. Use a flat plastic spatula/turner, bench scraper or wide cake decorating spatula to quickly lift them up when transferring to the cooling rack in order to prevent cookies from breaking. I usually use a plastic spatula.
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