Advent 2013 Day 9 Tollhouse cookies

Today was rest day so I don’t even have to feel guilty for not doing anything more strenuous than going for a walk with the Wife to pick up the Italian food from the local (Turkish run) Italian restaurant. They have a good oven so their pizza is good. Some of their pasta dishes are somewhat non-traditional, like ziti with tomato cream sauce and sucuk, but it’s tasty, quick, and easy even if our Italian Hausmeister (which is the guy who takes care of the place for the landlord and I really don’t know the English equivalent – rental manager? Caretaker?) is a bit disparaging when he talks about their food.

So since I didn’t cook today, I can’t blog today’s recipe. Instead, I’ll now type in without looking the recipe for Nestle Tollhouse Cookies and then discuss the changes I’ve made to the recipe to account for Germany. I’ve been making these for upwards of 25 years, I should be able to remember the recipe without looking.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (225 g) sweet butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2.25 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts or pecans work the best. Optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (190°C)
  2. Cream butter and sugar together
  3. Beat in vanilla
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt
  6. Mix the flour mixture in gradually (especially if using a stand mixer)  until you have a nice stiff cookie dough
  7. By hand, using a wooden spoon stir in the chocolate chips and optional nuts
  8. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown

Ok, so the only things I had wrong were the temperature (I had it set too low, our oven runs hot and with Umluft (convection oven) turned on, we bake correct chocolate chip cookies at 175°C or so.) and the order of the addition of vanilla and eggs. I tend to add the vanilla after the eggs. I don’t think it makes any difference.

So what if you live in Germany and want a taste of home? Baking soda is Natron. You can find it in envelopes in the baking aisle or in the traditional orange Arm and Hammer boxes in the special imports sections of fancy food stores. Either 405 flour or 550 flour works fine. I started with various combinations of the two while trying to recreate American all-purpose flour, but I’ve found that it makes absolutely no difference. You can also use whole wheat flour. Spelt flour (Dinkel) doesn’t really work. Don’t ask how I know that. And now for the big problems: brown sugar and chocolate chips. Brown sugar as we know it in the US does not exist here. I take a tablespoon or so of molasses, mix it with 3/4 cup sugar and put it in the food processor on high for a minute or two. Presto. Brown sugar. Or if you’re lazy, just add the molasses (honey also works, but gives a slightly lighter, fruitier flavor) to the stand mixer when you add the sugar. Chocolate chips also a a rarity in Germany. You have two options: every time you go back to the States, bring a couple of pounds of proper chocolate chips with you (they’re pretty shelf stable if you keep them in a cool, dark, dry place) or use regular semi-sweet baking chocolate and hack at it with the big chef knife until you have chocolate chip sized pieces. The second way tastes fine, but a little of the particular texture is lost because there’s some sort of waxy coating on proper chocolate chips that helps them keep their shape while baking.

Here's a bilingual flowchart of this recipe that I made for my German class with all the conversions between normal units and bizarro American cooking units.

Here’s a bilingual flowchart of this recipe that I made for my German class with all the conversions between normal units and bizarro American cooking units.

I don’t have any pictures of these because they usually don’t last long enough for that. I think this was the first food item I ever learned to make on my own. (Other than say, a can of soup or a fried egg). I love making them and I love giving them to people. They’re like little chocolatey love bites. I almost always will make a nut-free batch first because there’s always at least one person with a nut allergy in any group. I have absolutely no idea how I’d make a gluten-free or a vegan version, but if you’re reading this and you know, please post it in the comments!

Also,if you want to play around with various textures and consistencies, here’s a great article about the science of cookie making. From the article:

Baking cookies is almost magical. You put little balls of wet, white dough into the oven and out pop brown, crispy, tasty biscuits.

There’s also a great time-lapse video of the baking cookies in the article. And speaking of videos, today, I found a great Ylvis parody on Facebook, so you get my favorite Norwegian viral nonsense video along with a few hilarious parodies:

And the spleen, what does it do?

And what if your failing, non-inclusive clothing brand needs a boost? Do they know what the fox says when he’s not wearing a shirt? I think they do. I’m not linking directly to their video because they’re an odious company and I don’t really want to contribute to their hit counts, but this was a total WTF. They’re not even being ironic here.

Finally, your daily dose of cat, complete with bad fox parody:

Until tomorrow when I shall do all the things and then blog about them here, wishing you a happy Monday!

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