Thursday, July 24, 2008
Carpet Art, A Dog Psychic, & A Throwdown
It's been a dog day. I had a few things rolling around my brainage about which I might write, maybe relating to those napping cookies. Perhaps I'd wax poetic about specialty flours and my vast, exhaustive knowledge about them. But, first of all - I remembered I lacked said knowledge; and secondly, the day was just refusing to allow for luxurious moments of research and digging into food pornage. Fine, here's this instead.
I was on the phone with my dear mother-in-law (MIL) and we were discussing her dog, Cody, who is having issues. As we're talking, one of my dogs, Wylie, drops his chew - this should have been my first clue of BADNESS COMING since Wylie is extremely possessive of his chew. Then, he suddenly leaps down from the couch. I'm all, whatever dawg, and keep talking. Suddenly I hear a sickening and unmistakable noise coming from Wylie - a rather squirtening sound, if you will. Oh shit. Figuratively. Literally. And he's traveling to complete his carpet art. Here, there, over there - all over every possible carpet fiber.
And, yeah - I'm still talking on the phone, it's important (more on this later). Mind you, Wylie is ALL heart - and now that he's finished, the poor emptied fella lays down and looks at me - and he's all do you want me to go in the other room and cut off a paw because I will totally do it, I will - I just couldn't hold it. I get up, go over and kiss his little face, pick him up - and with phone stuffed in my shoulder area, proceed to clean him up while STILL talking. I get him cleaned up, he keeps his paw. I then proceed to clean the carpet with that enzyme crap that is supposed to clean crap and it's not working for crap, but what am I going to do - rip the carpet up while I'm ON the PHONE? I have my limits. Anyway, got 'er done. Or so I THOUGHT. Clearly, I am the daughter-in-law of the YEAR.
So, I was finally back to sitting on my couch - comfy at last - still talking about my MIL's dog, Cody. We were discussing his latest session with a pet communicator. What? Yes, that's right. Now, before you go thinking we're a nutball family 'round here who calls every 1-900 Tom, Dick, & Harry Pet Psychic when one of our dogs whines, please - don't go all LaToya Jackson Psychic Network on me, okay? She just got this little dude and I met him on my recent vacation. We are dog people through and through - and we have never in our lives seen anything like this little guy - just a shut down little dude, but he came from a completely wonderful home. After a bunch of vet visits (perfect health), my MIL remembered a Pet Communicator's name she had and *boom*, without boring you with a bunch of details - this woman pegged Cody completely, from just a picture - and he is depressed and misses his sister, Olivia, who he was with for a year. So, we're discussing a very depressed little doggy - and even crap will not keep me from this discussion.
But as I'm sitting there on my lovely sofa, I keep getting little whiffs of that bad smell - I know what it is, but I CANNOT find where it's coming from - I really can't, but I know it's somewhere on my lovely sofa. And now I'm thinking I might have a job for that damn pet psychic.
So, that was my dog day - and why this wasn't ALL ABOUT THE NY TIMES CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Moving on to those cookies, finally.....
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Well, a couple weeks ago, the NY Times caused quite a stir with their article about the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, which included a recipe originally by Jacques Torres and then adapted by David Leite. I tried the recipe and was kind of ho-hum about it - and it left me wondering if the two specialty flours really made much of a difference. So, I had a throw down with myself - I made the same recipe the next day, but with all-purpose flour - because I really didn't want to recommend the specialty flours if I didn't find them necessary. The result? Use all-purpose flour, period. Yep. There is almost no difference between the finished product, except cost. The big takeaway from this recipe is: go ahead and sprinkle some sea salt on the tops of your chocolate chip cookies before baking them - that was a WOW, brings out the flavor, and leaves a wonderful lingering finish (and of course add salt to the batter). Are they the consummate chocolate chip cookie? Not really; they're pretty darn great. Honestly, I like my cookies softer, more giving - so, I'm just not feelin' the ultimateness. So, there ya have it, folks. Wait...the OTHER problem: the fact that you have to let the dough rest in the fridge overnight - okay...HOW MANY times do you think I was IN that bowl eating dough? Yeah. PROBLEM.
2 c. minus 2 T. (8 1/2 oz) cake flour (or AP flour*)
1 2/3 c. (8 1/2 oz.) bread flour (or AP flour*)
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 c.) unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 c. + 2 T. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 lb. semisweet chocolate chips/chunks/discs, at least 60% cacao
In a bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer, cream butter and sugars until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time - mixing well after each addition; add vanilla and mix. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add chocolate and stir with wooden spoon to distribute throughout dough. Press plastic wrap against dough and place in fridge for 24-36 hours (up to 72 hrs. max).
To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment or baking mat. Scoop golf-ball size pieces of dough onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 16-20 minutes. Transfer pan to cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then remove cookies from pan and place directly on rack for further cooling. Repeat with remaining dough. Eat warm or store in airtight container. ENJOY!
*Count yourself lucky whenever flour measurements are given in weight, because with "cups" (volume) - you can end up with huge variances depending upon how you get that flour into those cups. So, if possible - use your scale to measure 17 oz. worth of AP flour; if you don't have a scale, use 4 c. of AP flour.