Eric Akis: Getting cosy with cookies

Eric Akis

The chilly weather last weekend stirred me to stay inside and bake cookies, a sweet project with an aroma that made my home feel even warmer and cosier.

I did have to venture out to shop for ingredients. At the store, I told the cashier I was making chocolate-chip cookies. She responded: “Those are my favourite type!”

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Mine, too, I said, and probably a few million other folk, I thought. There’s something irresistible about a sweet and tender cookie flecked with bits of chocolate.

If you are one of those chocolate-chip cookie lovers, I’ve got three styles for you try.

The first recipe is for a classic Toll House-style chocolate-chip cookie, a sweet treat first baked by Ruth Wakefield in the 1930s.

Wakefield owned the Toll House Inn, near Boston. She cooked for her guests there, and one day came up with the brilliant idea to mix chopped-up chocolate into her buttery cookie dough.

Her guests loved those cookies. Word spread about how divine they were and she eventually reached a deal with Nestlé Company to have the recipe appear on the packaging for their baking-chocolate bars. Sales soared, and by 1939, Nestlé also began selling conveniently packaged tiny morsels of chocolate, now called chocolate chips.

Toll House-style chocolate-chip cookies are made with all-purpose flour. But if you want your cookies to contain more fibre, try my second recipe for whole grain and oat chocolate-chip cookies.

Whole-grain flour, sold at most supermarkets, contains all parts of the nutritious wheat kernel, unlike whole-wheat flour, which has much of the rancidity-prone bran and wheat germ removed. The large-flake oats I also used in the cookies contain many minerals, B vitamins and protein.

If you don’t want to use wheat flour in your cookies, my last recipe is designed for you. To make the cookie dough, I used gluten-free flour blend, a mixture of gluten-free flours and others ingredients formulated to replace all-purpose flour in recipes. It is sold in the baking-supply aisle of most supermarkets. Because it does not contain gluten, your chocolate-chip cookies end up having a more delicate texture than chocolate-chip cookies made with gluten-rich flour.

You’ll notice that in all three recipes, I mixed chocolate chips into the cookie dough, but also set some on top of the cookies, giving them an even more appealing look once baked.

 

Classic Chocolate-Chip Cookies

These are classic, rich and wonderful Toll House-style chocolate-chip cookies. Not surprisingly, they taste great when served with a glass of ice-cold milk.

 

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 12 minutes, per sheet of cookies

Makes: about 48 cookies

 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In another bowl, beat butter, sugars and vanilla until well combined and lightened, about three to four minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

Drop heaping tablespoon amounts of the dough on baking sheets, spacing them about three inches apart. Now top each cookie with some of the remaining chocolate chips. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Cool on a rack, and then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

 

Eric’s options: If 48 cookies are too many, turn only half the dough into cookies and roll and freeze the rest. To do so, set a 20-inch-long piece of parchment or waxed paper on a work surface. Form the half dough you want to freeze into a 16-inch, about two-inch wide, log and roll and seal inside the paper. Twist the ends of the paper to seal. Freeze the cookie-dough log until needed. It will keep up to two months. When needed, let log warm at room temperature 30 minutes, and then slice into 3/4-inch pieces. Bake on parchment paper-lined baking sheets as described above.

 

Whole Grain and Oat Chocolate-Chip Cookies

In this fibre-rich version of chocolate-chip cookies, whole-grain flour and oats replace the all-purpose flour normally used. This recipe could be doubled.

 

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 13 to 15 minutes, per sheet of cookies

Makes: 18 to 20 cookies

 

1 1/4 cups whole grain wheat flour

1/2 cup large flake rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)

Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. In another bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until well combined and lightened. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Now mix in the 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

Form 1 1/2 Tbsp amounts of the dough into loose balls and divide them among the baking sheets, spacing them about three inches apart. Top each cookie with some of the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 13 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

 

Eric’s options: You could also mix 1/3 to 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans into the cookie batter.

 

Gluten-Free Flour Chocolate-Chip Cookies

These more delicate chocolate-chip cookies are made with a gluten-free flour blend. If you want these cookies to be entirely gluten-free, make sure the other ingredients used are labelled with that designation. This recipe could be doubled.

 

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 13 to 14 minutes, per sheet of cookies

Makes: 18 to 20 cookies

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp gluten-free flour blend (see Note)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place gluten-free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk well to combine.

Place butter, sugars and vanilla in a second bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, and beat well to combine. Beat in the egg. Add the gluten-free flour mixture and beat until well combined. Finally mix in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

Roll dough 1 1/2 Tbsp amounts of the dough into 18 to 20, 1 1/2-inch wide balls and divide them among the baking sheets, spacing them about three inches apart.

Press dough down on each cookie until it’s about 1/2-inch tall. Now top each cookie with some of the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 13 to 14 minutes, or until very light golden brown. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

 

Note: I used Robin Hood brand gluten-free flour blend in this recipe. It’s sold in the baking aisle of most supermarkets.

 

Eric’s options: You could also mix 1/3 to 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans into the cookie batter.

 

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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