Wednesday, 25 February 2009

tollhouse chocolate chip cookies

there was a time cookie baking was a staple activity for me. back in pakistan i used to bake a weekly batch that was sold at rifz cafe. i decided to make a batch midweek because for me baking is a great way to unwind. i didn’t realize that baking cookies in london would turn out to be a bit of a complicated affair. for starters it was shrove tuesday and a retinue of pancake crazed adults and children crowded the bakers aisle at waitrose where i had gone to get chocolate chips. the next challenge turned out to be the chocolate chips. waitrose’s cooks ingredients includes everything but chocolate chips. i desperately missed the over populated cookie chip variety offered by albertsons and frys in the us of a. there was butterscotch, white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, triple chocolate – i missed tollhouse more than anything! i decided to be creative and picked a bar of dark chocolate and decided to combine it with some green and blacks orange spiked maya which i had at home. i also got some margarine and a big fat shiny orange. thus equipped i headed home. 

before the cookie recipe i want to say one thing. in england a cookie is often equated with biscuits – to me these are two very different things. a cookie is soft and moist and crumbles easily. a biscuit is hard and crisp and requires to be bitten into. this is why biscuits are perfect for dunking and cookies generally require care. the dividing line between the two; butter vs. margarine. if you want a moist, soft and chewy cookie you want to avoid butter as that is what makes it spread and go harder. the other important this is the length of time you bake it for. for a cookie, it should look like it is slightly undercooked. a rule of thumb i generally work with is nine to eleven minutes in the oven with lightly browned edges. you then have to resist the temptation to lift them of the tray as soon as you bring them out of the oven as they will most certainly disintegrate. you have to wait for them to cool slightly.  

so here is what you need 

dry ingredients: 2 ¼ cups of flour, 1 tea spoon salt, 1 tea spoon baking powder
1 cup margarine
sweet stuff: ¾ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup white sugar
bringing it together: 2 eggs 
additions: 2 cups chocolate chips, 1 cup nuts (optional)
season: 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 

combine the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. add an egg and then some of the dry ingredients and incorporate. continue until you have mixed everything. then add the chocolate chips and fold through evenly. i tend to like to add a hint of the season to my cookie dough so i added some grated orange rind that teemed perfectly with my spiced orange home broken chocolate chips. preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius. drop cookies by the spoonful onto a greased cookie tray. you can let them be irregular or pat into shape slightly. stick them into the oven for nine to eleven minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. don’t worry if the centre looks slightly uncooked. they will continue to cook on the tray for a couple of minutes. let them stand until they are firm enough to lift off with a spatula. serve hot with a glass of cold milk, a cafitiere of fresh coffee or a cup of tea. i had hers with earl grey tea, i had mine with cafitiere of fresh yirga cheffe coffee and j had hers with black currant tea. 

this is a basic foolproof recipe that is the genius of tollhouse. don’t be afraid to tweak it to your likes. i often substitute some of the flour for oats to gives a varied texture. try different combinations of chips, perhaps a hint of cinnamon or raspberries which white chocolate chips. once baked make homemade ice cream sandwiches with a good quality vanilla ice cream. if they do last long enough ,keep them in a air tight jar. they generally tend to remain soft but for an added treat microwave them slightly to get the chips warm and melty. 

oh and don’t forget to eat some of the batter before it goes into the oven. it’s really addictive.