July 9, 2008

The Secret to Great Chocolate Chip Cookies?

I had never heard of this before:
Given the opportunity to riff on his cookie-making strategies, Mr. Rubin revealed two crucial elements home cooks can immediately add to their arsenal of baking tricks. First, he said, he lets the dough rest for 36 hours before baking.

Asked why, he shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “They just taste better.”

“Oh, that Maury’s a sly one,” said Shirley O. Corriher, author of “CookWise” (William Morrow, 1997), a book about science in the kitchen. “What he’s doing is brilliant. He’s allowing the dough and other ingredients to fully soak up the liquid — in this case, the eggs — in order to get a drier and firmer dough, which bakes to a better consistency.”

A long hydration time is important because eggs, unlike, say, water, are gelatinous and slow-moving, she said. Making matters worse, the butter coats the flour, acting, she said, “like border patrol guards,” preventing the liquid from getting through to the dry ingredients. The extra time in the fridge dispatches that problem. Like the Warm Rule, hydration — from overnight, in Mr. Poussot’s case, to up to a few days for Mr. Torres — was a tactic shared by nearly every baker interviewed.

And by Ruth Wakefield, it turns out. “At Toll House, we chill this dough overnight,” she wrote in her “Toll House Cook Book” (Little, Brown, 1953). This crucial bit of information is left out of the version of her recipe that NestlĂ© printed on the back of its baking bars and, since in 1939, on bags of its chocolate morsels.
It makes sense.  It also makes sense that it was left out of the "original" recipe and pretty much everyone since then - who wants to wait 36 hours for cookies.  The article in the NYT offers a couple of other little known hints as well as a recipe bringing them all together.  We'll give it a try the next time we're feenin' for a batch and report back.


jennifer said...

Our solution to the refrigeration dilemma is to bake one batch (8 cookies or so) for instant gratification immediately after the batter is mixed up and then the rest the next day or even later. The latter might have some taste advantages (and now I know why), but it's still tough to beat that first warm cookie after anticipating it through the batter-making process. Or, I guess I should say, through my spouse's batter-making process, as he's been the baker of late.

Anonymous said...

chilled for a few hours is my preference. The taste might improve longer but i have found that if you chill the dough for more than a day you will lose some of the texture (or at least the texture i like)


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