Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rye Flour
Yes, I have promised you stories of European adventure. And yes, there are constant reminders that I am far from Portland. Traditional dancers and musicians piped their way through the streets shortly after I dropped my bags. Breakfast consists of bowls of milky sweet coffee, with crusts of last night´s bread crumbled in. I have held five-day-old rabbits that peed in my hand, and politely declined the offer of a walking stick during a farm stroll, only to be informed that it was in fact a pushing-back-cows stick. I will be terribly sad to leave.
But as for cooking, and taking pictures of said food, I´ve been a bit remiss. And it´s not for lack of amazing food. The first evening brought a lovely potato tortilla and croquettes, but after 18 hours of travel I wasn´t really following what was happening. Last night I ate dinner that was cooked on an actual wood-fired stove, but given that my inability to speak Basque was enough of an imposition, I decided not to make things worse by sticking my camera around. I promise salt cold aplenty to come, but for now, I´ll tell you about the snacks I baked in Portland and carried with me.
If you´re looking to represent America abroad, it´s hard to go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. And if you´re looking to make chocolate chip cookies, it´s hard to go wrong with a buttery dough, aged for a few nights in the fridge. And, per my latest obsession, bolstered with rye flour.
When this chocolate chip cookie recipe first surfaced, it seemed like perfection. Take the usual easy-peasy formula, wait a few days, and almost by magic the dough develops a caramel-like depth. But after writing an article about the wonders of rye flour, I couldn´t help but swap some into this formula (cutting the amount down just a wee bit, to account for the moisture-absorbing prowess of rye´s whole grain). And the result is just lovely, my all-time favorite. It has been politely demanded that I bake more before my departure. If only the Basque Country sold rye flour...
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rye Flour
adapted from Jacques Torres in The New York Times
yields 2-4 dozen cookies, depending upon size, and must be made at least 1 day before baking
4 1/4 ounces bread flour, 1 1/3 cups (I feared this could yield a tough consistency, but it´s called for in the original, and nicely offsets rye´s minimal gluten, though it´d probably be fine without)
4 ounces rye flour, 1 heaping cup
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp coarse salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 ounces (2/3 cup) brown sugar, packed
4 ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 4-ounce bar (or more) chocolate of your choosing, chopped into small cubes and bits
Sift together the bread flour, rye flour, soda, powder and salt. Set aside.
Place the butter in a mixer or large bowl, and beat together with the sugars until very light. Add the egg and vanilla, and stir until well combined. Add the flour mixture, stir until just mixed, and then add the chocolate and stir to distribute evenly. Place in a bag or covered container, and chill 2-3 days.
When you´re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a few baking sheets with parchment (or grease them well and hope for the best). Scoop the dough out into cookies -- Torres favors large cookies for a nice crisp-outside-gooey-inside consistency, but I find you can arrive at something similar if you make small cookies and watch them like a hawk.
Bake until golden brown yet soft, 10-15 minutes depending upon cookie size. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a couple minutes until they firm up enough for you to move them, then transfer to a rack to cool completely (it´s difficult to end up with soft cookies if you don´t pull them soon enough). Devour when warm, with milk, or let cool fully and pack them in an airtight container for your travels.