This week, the Alpha Bakers baking assignment was My Chocolate Chip Cookies from:
HOW IT WORKS:
Each week we as Alpha Bakers, are assigned one of the recipes from Rose’s new baking book and we as a group all over the world bake the same recipe at the same time. Our objective is to share our successes, where we got stumped, what questions did we have along the way, our joys and in some cases our baking shortcomings.
PER MY WEB HOST, in order to leave a comment on my site, you will need to click on the title of the blog each week. It opens into a new blog window in which comments are able to be left at the bottom of the blog. Thank you all for your comments!
FULL DISCLOSURE: This week I did slightly cheat and added a teaspoon of walnut oil to the batter but other than that I stayed true to the recipe.
Ok, we all know that cookies can’t talk to us, but my cookies were simply screaming at me when I set them on the cooling rack. I heard them saying to me,
” Now you know you should have soaked some dried cherries or cranberries in your favorite Raspberry Liquor and added them to me…..”
So I have made a note to add this addition to my next batch.
I must say that I really loved this recipe. I learned a lot and crafted some new techniques ( not necessarily in the recipe steps, but techniques that I applied ).
First, Rose has a wonderful technique for getting the skins off of walnuts. The concept is a culinary masterpiece in my opinion as the skins, if left on, impart a bitter quality which will effect the taste and outcome of the baked product.
Here’s my technique:
Save your old Pasta Sauce Jars
Place your HOT out of the oven walnuts in the jar and put on the lid
Shake vigorously, yes even over your head, for exactly 1 minute. Then tilt the opened jar and allow the walnuts to fall out onto a clean, terry cloth tea towel. Be extra careful not to shake the jar as all of the skins have fallen to the bottom of the glass jar.
discarded bitter walnut skins
Then gently rub the walnuts between your palms and set the cleaned walnuts in a different area of the tea towel. Continue until all walnuts have been rubbed and final skins separated.
The proof in the technique is here….if you look closely, only a few skins actually remained on the walnuts after shaking in the jar
And VOILA, you have roasted, De-skinned walnuts in about 2 minutes from the time you opened your oven
My second technique was making the clarified beurre noir.
First we take room temperature butter. Rose list the temperature range in the recipe
Next we apply extremely low heat. Our goal here is only to melt the butter
Milk solids are separating nicely
Per the recipe instructions, we skim off the foam
Here’s my additional technique. I find that to clarify butter, it is so much easier at the lower temperature to remove the foam by creating a point on a few paper towels. By applying the paper towel tip directly onto the foam, the foam dances to it and the removal of the foam is much easier
Well, it works for me
Next we want to increase the heat just to low and now you really need to watch the butter. Please also be very careful as the increased heat will cause the HOT LIQUID, butter to pop out of the sauce pan
The increased heat is causing the foam to separate into pools which is to our benefit as it makes it much easier now to remove the remaining foam
Again, we use the paper towel technique in order to collect the foam and remove eventually 90 % of it while still in the sauce pan
Per the recipe instructions, we had already set up a measure covered with a strainer which has cheese cloth lined to collect the remaining milk solids.
What is so important here is to rely totally on your sense of smell. The MOMENT you begin to smell a nutty flavor, you have clarified beurre noir.
Press the liquid through the cheese cloth and the strainer with a silicone spatula
As you can see, only a very small amount of foam was transferred from the sauce pan
The final use of my paper towel technique will help to remove the remaining foam
And here fellow Alpha Bakers, I give you Clarified Beurre Noir, or as I like to call it “CBN”
I was delighted to find Muscovado sugar at The Fresh Market; no one else has it in my area; The recipe calls for light Muscovado sugar but I was so excited to find this I took a chance and used it. My cookies do appear a bit darker in color than the pictures from other Alpha Bakers, but my excitement got the best of me
Mise en Place
I found a sale on McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract so I just had to show off my two bottles here
Other Mise en Place
Rose gave us a variation for Melt in your Mouth Chocolate Chips, so that got MY attention; I used the fine chocolate I had in my chocolate pantry – YES, I have a chocolate pantry
Kristina Taylor, gave us a technique she uses to grate the fine chocolate and I quote her, “Pro tip: if you use a micro plane grater, you get double chocolate cookies. “
Worked like a charm! Thanks Krista!
You can visit Krista at her blog, http://eatsndrinks.ca/
Here’s where I got creative and added Walnut Oil – if you look at the measuring spoon, this was Rose’s that I purchased from her and Woody’s over flow sale!
Dough was mixed
Equally divided into two logs
rolled and refrigerated with an option to bake in 30 minutes, 12 hours or overnight – my overnight turned into three days but such is the life
I found another technique along the way. I did not find the rolling into a ball step was functional for this dough filled with both walnuts and chocolate chips, so I measure each cookie dough by breaking off of the log to the recipe instructions measurement and forming a vertical log shaping it with my fingers
Vertical dough mass
I then used a measuring cup to flatten out my vertical dough
and VOILA, uniform cookies
I found baking the cookies on the second batch 30 seconds less than the highest time Rose listed helped retain moisture
Happy Baking Ya’ll!