Friday, October 23, 2009

Alexis’s Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

I fell for the hype. Twice. There was an article on Yahoo about the “best” chocolate chips and the “best” chocolate chip cookie recipes. I’ve been making Tollhouse cookies since I was a child. As an adult, I’m always trying, only to be disappointed by, other chocolate chip cookie recipes. But, hey, these are “the best” recipes.

There was the ubiquitous New York Times recipe, the supposedly “secret” Neiman Marcus recipe, a couple of famous TV chef recipes and a Martha Stewart recipe. From her Entertaining book. Supposedly the recipe has worked perfectly for 25 years. Let me repeat that so that we are all clear on this: Alexis’s Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies have worked perfectly for 25 years.

Like all of Martha’s “best” recipes, this one goes overboard on one key ingredient, in this case, butter. The recipe calls for one pound unsalted butter. Egads!! The recipe doesn’t say so, but I used the usual “softened” butter. Balancing that is a dearth of chocolate chips. Only 1½ cups. In my humble opinion, the minimum should be 2 cups, the whole 12 ounce bag instead of ¾ of it. And by the way, what are “real chocolate chips”? I didn’t realize that there were fake ones.

I liked that the dry ingredients are sifted. It usually makes for a lighter result. I’m not sure why with an entire pound of butter, Martha feels that the cookie sheets need to be greased. I have never greased my cookie sheets when making chocolate chip cookies with a lot less butter. I went with experience and didn’t grease them. I was also unhappy with the amount of batter for each cookie. Two to three tablespoons seemed way too much. And which is it? Two or three? There’s a big difference. I compromised at 2 ½ tablespoons. Sure enough, it was waaaaay too much. This is what the first batch looked like:

They spread out all over the cookie sheet. Can you imagine if I HAD greased the cookie sheet? They would have continued spreading off the sheet and all over my oven. According to the reverential article accompanying this recipe, these cookies have a “…crispy-at-the-edges/chewy-in-the –middle texture.” You will note that in the above photo, while the edges could possibly be described as “crispy”, there is no way that the uncooked batter in the middle could be described as “chewy”.

But we weren’t finished having fun yet. Here’s what happened when I attempted to remove the cookies from the cookie sheet:

An ooey-gooey mess. For the next batch, I reduced the batter for each cookie to a more normal 1 tablespoon and was rewarded with the promised 4 inch “crispy-at-the-edges/chewy-in-the-middle texture”. Look closely at the photo below. Do you see any chocolate chips? I see almost none. For me, a chocolate chip cookie is as much about the chocolate chips as it is about the cookie.

I should confess that the worshipful author of the accompanying article was correct about the taste. “They do not resemble Tollhouse-style cookies in the slightest. They are much more buttery….” She’s right. They were good. We will just have to disagree about the recipe itself. It may have worked for 25 years in her kitchen, but it doesn’t work in mine.

Verdict: What was Martha thinking?

Alexis’s Brown-Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
(source: Martha Stewart Entertaining)

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ cups real chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cream butter until smooth; add sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, salt, and baking soda and beat into above mixture. Add chocolate chips. Drop 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto greased baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 8 minutes.

Remove from pans and cool on racks.

Note; if cookies become hard while still on the baking sheet, put sheet back into the oven for a few seconds to soften them for easy removal.

Recycle: vanilla bottle

Compost: eggshells


Anonymous said...

The first time I made these cookies, I didn't have enough brown sugar, so I used brown and light brown sugar. Instead of chocolate chips, i cut up 3 or 4 different kinds of chocolate bars. (I used some "premium" chocolate bars, and seeing it was going to be expensive, I used some less expensive chocolate bars, too!)
My mixer was broken, so I mixed everything with a wooden spoon.

The cookies were perfect. They were flat, a little crispy, but chewy. I know this is a deviation from Martha's recipe, but the results were great! They were so great, that folks request them all the time.

Mandy said...

I started making this recipe with no trouble a decade ago and my family loves the cookies. They are meant to be very large & I generally chill the batter overnight.

Judy said...

Do grease the cookie sheets. The original recipe, as written in “Entertaning,” is perfect. Subsequent versions Martha has videoed are not as good, nor is anything other resources have cited. Buy the book!