Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Chocolate chip cookies façon Christophe Michalack

Chocolate chip cookies Christophe Michalack

Chocolate chip cookies. For sure one the most renowned cookie all over the world. And like for other famous recipes their origin is a mix of history and legend (see for example the stories about "Tarte Tatin", chocolate ganache, in Italy Panettone or even pizza). The certain fact is that they are good, very good. In my personal opinion (and I am neither a pastry-chef nor a food professional, just a food lover), chocolate chips cookies are the most valuable American contribution the world of pastry-making. And they are so famous and so beloved that anywhere you search (on the web, in cook-books, in magazines, specialized in food or not) you find for sure somebody who wants to share the recipe for "the original chocolate chip cookies" or, even more frequently, "the best chocolate chip cookies ever"; and some have even different versions of the "best chocolate chips cookies ever", each one described as an improvement of the previous one.
In addition to this there are many theories regarding the characteristics of these iconic cookies: how large and/or thick they should be, what is the right ratio between chewiness and crunchiness, should they be made with butter or vegetable shortening, should the chocolate be dark or milk, in chips or chopped, and so on.  
In my opinion (am I having too many opinions today?) it is difficult, better impossible, to label a recipe "the best" one, because many factors influence the judgement, first of all personal tastes and, why not, specific mood. Yes, I think that one day one person may like something and, after a while, for many reasons, the same person can like something different and maybe dislike what he or she liked before.
But anyway, among the hundreds recipes for chocolate chips cookies that it is possible to find, or create, I have recently tested one signed by the famous French patissier Christophe Michalack.
Typically chocolate chips cookies recipes contain more sugar than flour, something that I can hardly accept (for my taste I mean and, also and maybe more important, for my glycemia level) and this is way the recipes I try are somehow non-orthodox; this recipe makes no exception to the weird rule. But I have to say that the final result is worth trying, because these cookies are really very good: not too sweet as I like, soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside, and they go well with the traditional glass of milk (this is how my kid has them), with tea (like I do), with coffee or even on their own.    
One note: since the recipe creator is French he uses cassonade, which is a kind of sugar very common in France but not so easy to find outside: a good substitution is brown sugar; I used the light brown sugar (if you are interested in the topic, here is an interesting article by David Lebovitz about French sugars and their substitutes).

Chocolate chip cookies Christophe Michalack

Chocolate chip cookies façon Christophe Michalack
my changes are in brackets
makes about  12 to 16 cookies
90 g cassonade (I used 80 g of light brown sugar)
55 g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg (about 50 g)
90 g all purpose flour (I used 100 g)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch sea salt (Maldon for me)
85 g dark chocolate 60% cocoa solid, chopped or in chips
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (my addition) 

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Whisk the softened butter with sugar and salt until creamy and pale: I like to do this operation by hand, since it does not require a particular effort (and my arms are all but strong!) but it is also possible to use an electric mixer. Add the egg and mix. Then add the powders mixture and mix to amalgamate. Finally add the chopped chocolate and mix. At this point I recommend to let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour: this step is optional but helps the butter to firm a bit, so that it will be easier to form the cookies and, also important, they will spread less on the baking sheet while cooking.
Preheat the oven to 190 °C (I set it to 180° because my oven would for sure have burnt the cookies on the outside) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the dough into small balls (about 12 if you like big-sized cookies, 16 if like me prefer something smaller; the attached pictures give an idea of how big my cookies came out) and place them evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the surface starts turning golden (actually the baking time recommended by Michalack was 4 minutes; I agree with the fact that it is better to under-bake all cookies in order to keep them soft in the middle, but after that time my cookies were still warm dough). Remove the sheet from the oven and transfer the cookies onto a wire rack (I usually move them with all the parchment paper; this operation can be tricky the first times you make it, but I assure that it is a valuable method for transferring all cookies at the same time: no cookie will keep baking on the hot baking sheet and I don't have my fingers burnt). 

Chocolate chip cookies Christophe Michalack

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