Saturday, March 15, 2014

crunchy chewy orange chocolate cookies - happy national cocoa day!

Instead of the traditional single bite shot, I decided to go with the more daring double bite.
As you all know on December 12th it's National Cocoa Day! So in recognition of this truly special food holiday, I decided to make a chow-fection that embodied everything I love about cocoa, while presenting it in a shape we all know and love. Thus the birth of the Crunchy Chewy Orange Chocolate Cookie, and the extra fold in my love handle. But we can work that off later however there's no better excuse to make these cookies other than right now. Using a little bit of my scientific knowledge I was able to combine my two favorite textures to create a cookie unlike any you have ever tried, so stay tuned for the secret shortly. But without further-ado let's get started! 



To begin I'm going to whisk together my All Purpose (AP) flour, my salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. You don't need to dirty a sifter when whisking proves just as effective. 



In another bowl you want to cream together your butter and sugars until light and creamy. The reason why I use a brown and white sugar is because I want that chewy rich texture that the molasses in the brown sugar provides. If you use a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle it'll take about 3 minutes but I'm just gonna do it the ol' fashioned way. With my lime green spoonula I'm gonna press together the softened butter and my sugar against the side of the bowl with the tip, and continue doing that for 4 minutes or, until the mixture is homogenous. Right about there. 

When you have that beat in the eggs and vanilla. 




Fold in the dry mix until just about combined and mix in the orange juice and zest. Don't let the picture fool you. Although the spoonula was used in the folding process, I found it much easier to just get dirty with my hands. For dignity purposes I didn't show you the pictures of me cleaning my hands because I think you know what I did instead. At this stage the dough will be fairly stiff. Remember that overmixing the dough will make these cookie tough. 

By experience I know Santa does not like tough cookies, that's why last year he didn't come to our house. Hopefully this year I've learned my lesson and can resist the temptation. So at this point your dough should be nice and thick. Although I did not, white chocolate chips would have made this cookie that much better, aesthetically and taste wise so add them now if you wish. You could wrap this up and freeze for up to two weeks if you didn't plan to use it right away. Regardless wrap the dough and chuck it into the fridge to harden for 30 minutes. This also gives the cookies a chance to rest so the flavors meld and are fully awake when we bake. 



Take a tablespoon and measure out equally sized cookies. It really doesn't matter how large you make them as long as you adjust your baking time. Roll them into a ball with your hands and place them on a greased baking pan a couple centimeters apart. To make professionally beautiful balls dip your hands in water so you don't get dirty and the cookies shine. You should be able to make two pans. Or four pans of six if you want to take beautifully spaced pictures. 

Bake them in a 360 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until the top is dry, that's the key. If you made larger cookies all you need to look for are that the tops are dry. This makes the perfect cookie every time. While the cookies are baking I thought this would be the perfect time to lecture you on what goes on in the oven as the cookies bake.  

At 92 F butter melts. This is why our cookies spread out. Because butter is an emulsion, which means it's a combination of oil and water, as it melts the water molecules are released. As the cookies get hotter the water turns into steam which expands and tries to escape through the cookie walls. As you know, water boils off at 212 F so like a patty of mud drying in the sun your cookie will stiffen. The steam that bubbles away leave airy pockets in the cookie, this makes it light and delicate. Arguably cooking's tastiest chemical reaction occurs at 310 F, these are called Maillard Reactions. They occur when proteins and sugars break down and combine to create ring like structures, which give foods their golden brown color. But Maillard isn't only good for the cookies' appearance. At this temperature it develops a range of nutty rich flavors which give depth and body to milk's best friend. 

The thing that sets these cookies apart is the texture we achieve by turning the temperature up to 360 F. At 356 F caramelization occurs. The traditional cookie baked at 350 never reaches the final stage of the cooking process. This means the sugars inside the cookie break down and crystallize creating a crunchy, crispy exterior, while maintaining a chewy interior. I think this combination of crunchy outside, and chewy inside make this cookie stand out from the norm and is definitely worth the try. However if you prefer the traditional soft cookie just turn the oven down.


So now that I've taught you all the science I know I'm pretty much useless. Leave to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and serve warm with milk. Santa will surely come to your house once he smells these cookies. But if he doesn't, don't worry, that's just more for yourself. 


The first batch is on the right, the thinner, chewier, more superior cookie is on the left

If you look at the picture above I must admit, I was not very proud of my first attempt. I wished they were a little thinner and more spread out so once the first batch cooled I transferred them to a wire rack and layered on another batch. This time I made sure to flatten the cookies just a little bit before they went into the oven. As you can see on the right, the cookies were just a little thinner, but the chewiness definitely increased. I like my cookies to be thin and almost bendable, cakey cookies (although the alliteration is uncanny) do not float my boat. 



But I hope you enjoyed this week's chow-fection. The deep, rich chocolatey flavor really balanced out with the acidity of the orange making this a delicious holiday treat. So I highly suggest you make these for your loved ones this holiday season and stay tuned for more! And as always, 

Chow!


Recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup of white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice and 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 orange

chocolate chips of your choice (optional, but suggested)

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