Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two Continents, One Recipe, Cookies All Around


Please Pass The Milk

So what do you get when you combine two foodie friends, one global book swap, an intriguing new recipe, and the magic of email? About as close to "baking together" as two girls on opposite sides of the world can get. (Along with the discovery that one can, in fact, wake up in the morning with a cookie batter hangover. Note: Eating nothing but the baked version of said cookie batter for breakfast and lunch the following day does not help nearly as much as you would think.)

I've said before that I'm a sucker for chocolate chip cookie recipes. And I certainly can't resist a baking challenge--even if it does begin a half hour before my bedtime. Here's what happened.

Back in July, my pal Amy at Beauty Joy Food organized a book swap. (If you missed out on this fun event, do not despair; Amy has promised to host future swaps. She is even trying to get me to host one.) Our pal Clare at Eat Stuff in Australia signed up and received a copy of the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill from her swap partner. She dove into it yesterday and came up with a simple recipe for chocolate chip cookies which she then emailed to me to see what I thought of it. It immediately piqued my interest for two reasons: 1)It didn't call for any leavening, and 2)It had such a high ratio of butter to dry ingredients. I wanted to make these cookies.

A brilliant plan was quickly hatched. We would try out the recipe at the same time and compare the results of what happens when you are baking the exact same thing half a world away. I already knew from experience that when I changed even one little thing in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, it often caused a completely different outcome. This was going to be interesting. We would each write about our experiences, comparing results and including the recipe--which Clare would convert to metric for her post. And we would simultaneously publish our posts.

And so, with a flurry of emails (What is your brown sugar like? First tray is in the oven! Where are those pictures? Are you sure it said teaspoon and not Tablespoon? Where ARE you?) and a dusting of flour, our trans-continental bake-a-thon began. It was almost too much fun. (It was definitely too much cookie batter. I am 100% convinced that I inherited a gigantic batter-eating gene from my mother.)

The original recipe is from David "The Cookie King" Leiderman in New York and is called "Delicious Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies." He describes the cookies as "easy to make and absolutely delicious," adding that "they develop a butterscotch flavor as they bake and are extremely fragile."

The recipe was easy to make, but it also didn't look like it would yield much. I decided to make two batches so I would have enough batter to play around with different kinds of chocolate and various sizes of cookies. I made two minor adjustments to the recipe. I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of 1/2 teaspoon, and I used chocolate chips instead of chopped bittersweet chocolate.


Pure & Sweet

I used Horizon Organic butter, C & H golden brown sugar, farm fresh eggs, and Heartland Mill organic, all-purpose flour. The big chips are Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium Baking Chips which are larger than most standard, American semisweet chocolate chips. The tiny chips are Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels. I used the double chocolate chips in one batch and the mini chips in the other. The only other changes had to do with the size of the cookies and the baking times. Even the Baby Bear cookies (which were about half the size the Cookie King called for) were not close to being done after 6 to 8 minutes.


I Stole These From The Three Bears

I used three different scoops to make three sizes of cookies. If you fill them with water, the "Papa Bear" scoop holds 1/4 cup (or 2 fluid ounces), the "Mama Bear" scoop holds 2 Tablespoons, and the "Baby Bear" scoop holds 1 Tablespoon.

As you can see, just those two little changes made quite a difference when it came to the finished products.


All These And More From One Recipe

All of the cookies tasted really good. As far as the "butterscotch flavor," well, if you nibbled on just the brown edges of the double chocolate chip Mama and Papa Bears, you could almost kind of sorta taste it. But one bite with chocolate and it was obliberated. On the other hand, all of the cookies except the mini chip Baby Bears were definitely "extremely fragile" as he stated. Although the brown edges appear to be crunchy in the photo, they are actually very soft. Why one would want to make cookies this susceptible to falling apart I do not know--except perhaps to use it as a handy excuse not to be able to share them with anyone. (In fact, I do believe I employed just that line of reasoning last week after I made a batch of Rae's amazingly chocolately Brownie Bite Cookies that she wrote about recently on Bunnyfoot.)

My personal favorites were the Mama and Baby Bear sizes made with the mini chips. They spread more evenly and also held together better than the others. Plus they're cuter. My notes for the cookies made with the larger chips simply say "weird." They were clunky and didn't spread right. And they really fell apart easily.

While this recipe did not shoot right up to the top of the New Favorites list, it is definitely a keeper. And I realized that because the cookies were so soft, they would be good for making ice cream sandwiches since all the ice cream would not smoosh out the sides like it does when you bite into one made with crunchy cookies. To make: Freeze the cookies, and then assemble sandwiches using slightly softened ice cream. Put the sandwiches back into the freezer until hard. (Or enjoy right away with large napkin at the ready.) I made some with vanilla bean ice cream, and they were very, very good. I bet they would be even better with my favorite, coffee ice cream.


Save Some Cookies And Make A Few Of These
So that's my version of our all night/all day, highly entertaining baking adventure. We are both low on sleep and high on sugar right now, but it was worth it. The recipe, including my changes, is below. To hop over to Sydney and read Clare's side of the story, all you have to do is click right here. Isn't technology amazing?

David Leiderman's
Delicious Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies
As Interpreted By Farmgirl

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and egg in a bowl and beat to make a smooth batter. (I used an electric hand mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute.) Add flour and chocolate chips, stirring with a rubber spatula until no traces of flour remain. (My butter was really soft, so I put the finished batter in the freezer for about 10 minutes to stiffen it up a bit before baking.) Using a scoop or spoon, drop batter onto a parchment-lined, heavy duty baking sheet. Bake until barely brown (or a little longer if desired). Cool on a wire rack. Yield depends on size of cookies. Makes about 4 dozen Baby Bear (1 Tablespoon) size.

Baking times in my oven:
Papa Bears: 16-17 minutes
Mama Bears: 14 minutes
Baby Bears: 10 minutes.
Note: Because the instructions said "bake until barely brown," I may have erred on the side of caution and probably could have baked all the cookies a little longer. This might have helped with the fragility factor.

19 comments:

  1. Technology is amazing, and you guys are, too. This was SUCH a good idea, to cook the same recipe and then compare results online. I have LOVED reading these. :)

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  2. Yay!
    So much hard work, so little sleep too much sugar! Yippee :)
    Great post girrly :)

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  3. Hey there!
    Those chocolate chip cookies look scrumptious!! I'll be heading over to Harry's 'cup o cofee' in a few, he better have some cookies...now that I really want some. And sweet idea, indeed...

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  4. Farmgirl's Mum9/14/2005 1:21 AM

    I hope that some of all these posted recipes are going in the freezer for us when we farmsit later this month!

    Probably even thawed cookie dough would taste great!

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  5. Beautiful challenge, beautiful idea. I like when the Web causes such exchanges.

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  6. Hey!!! That's not the pita recipe you've been promising to post!! ;^)

    Those cookies look fantastic. I too love chocolate chip cookies! Except I love them with chocolate chunks broken up from a good dark chocolate bar. Now I can't wait til it stops being hot here. We neeeeeeeeed those cookies!

    -Elizabeth

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  7. You are an artist! I stopped by because blogger seems to like me once again and I can leave my name, but I don't need that reason to visit. Your posts are always worth my time. Now I need a glass of milk!

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  8. Wow, what a cool experiment. Simultaneous trans-continental baking. I don't even like chocolate, and these pictures make me want a cookie. Well done!

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  9. fun, fun, fun idea! It's really neat to compare the cookies...your large ones do look very similar to Clare's. You guys should make a regular event out of this!

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  10. Great idea, Susan! I have to say that I like the babies best.

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  11. Love this. Love the bake-off!
    You guys must do it again. Super amazing how the world gets so much smaller!

    Ice cream cookie sandwiches. Love it!

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  12. Hi Everyone!
    If you've read the post I just finished writing, you'll know why this is going to be a brief reply. Despite the miniscule size of our little library, there are three computers with online access, and they are very popular. I'm about to get kicked off this one because my alloted time is almost up. Thanks for all your wonderful comments. Hopefully I'll be back online at the farm soon!

    P.S. And if you're perturbed because this post wasn't about pitas, please go blame Clare! : )

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  13. Thanks FG
    That's just what I need! A hoard of angry bloggers wanting their pita instructions, YIKES!

    Anyway... I was just giving you an excuse :P

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  14. Clare, I decided that it would be unkind to blame you. (I ALMOST went into your comments section to give you what for though)

    But talk about a Marie Antoinette moment... "No pita? Let them eat cookies."

    <incessant nag>When the phone line is fixed, can we have the pita recipe please</incessant nag>

    -Elizabeth

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  15. What a neat idea girlies (I read your post too, Clare)! Sounds like a lot of fun!! I wanna plaaaaay!!!
    FG I think you are right in that the smaller the cookie, the better the presentation. Thank you for all that research so that we may make the perfect cookie the first time!
    Sorry I've been MIA - I've missed my farm getaway!!

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  16. Your photos made me copy your recipe. Promise to make these delicious cookies. And a great idea of cooking the same recipe, at the same time in different corners of the world.

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  17. I love it! This is exactly what I was trying to capture with The Really Big Cook Off (more on that on my blog), but you did it in Real Time, which is one step beyong. Incredible. I really am in awe. Oh, and the cookies look delicious too! Im all giddy, thanks for this terrific post!

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January 2013 update: I know word verification is a big pain, but it's the only way I can stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I get every day. I don't want to require commenters to be registered Blogger or Open ID users because I know many of you aren't. Thanks so much for your understanding!

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