What if the food is so amazing and I can never eat like a regular human being again? What if I see what great cooking IS, and I am ashamed that I won't ever cook again? What if Husband eats said food, decides what I've been cooking is nothing but pure drivel and proclaims me to be the worst wife cook and never eats my food again? You see, the pressure was too intense, so I declined.
I even really only hold his books at the library, only to quickly put them down because they are intimidating in size alone. I have, in fact, strained my back muscle once picking up one of his books from a squat position at the library. With three kids in tow, it was not a pretty sight. The books are huge and intimidating.
Intimidating, Intimidating. Intimidating. You get the picture. Only, I hate being intimidated. I like feeling like I can conquer something. I have forced myself to watch a scary movie (I hate them) to survive them. Granted I make husband watch them first and then rewatch it with me while he tells me everything that is ABOUT to happen before I see it, but you get the picture. I like to overcome those things that scare me and intimidate me.
Ad Hoc is one of Keller's lesser scary tomes. And within this lesser scary tome I came upon a recipe which caught my eye - Chocolate Chip Cookies. I mean - I am a very good chocolate cookie baker. I've even adapted a cookie recipe to turn it into what some call one of the best cookies ever. A cookie! A chocolate chip cookie at that. I can definitely handle it. After baking them I would be able to say that I had completed a Keller recipe. That would provide some sort of satisfaction.
I decided to attack it. True to Keller form, there are some interesting finicky precise things that he requires. Instead of just regular chocolate chips, or even bittersweet chips (Ghiradelli has some new ones) he asks for 5 oz of 55% chocolate and 5 oz of 70 to 72 % chocolate. The best that you can find. In addition, after chopping it, you have to sift out all the extra powder as it would make the cookies less attractive. He also has you creaming butter while it is cold, in two stages. One stick of butter is creamed and then sugar and the other stick of butter is added. He also gives the very interesting technique of telling people to not undercook cookies for a softer texture, but instead to mist them with water to give them that softer cakier texture that some people like. His recipe doesn't ask for vanilla extract as that masks the true chocolate flavor.
Even with those finicky things, I decided I wanted to conquer a SINGLE Keller recipe. I dug out my special stash of bar chocolate, the ones I set aside for when I want to do something SPECIAL. I had some bars of Valrhona 56% semisweet and 71% bittersweet. It would be perfect. I chopped and sifted and did as Chef Sir Commander Keller asked. And I baked them.
I made friend BF taste them. She was happy to oblige as she is a cookie monster. We ate one together warm from the oven. The chocolate flavor was extremely intense, much more than I had expected and the flavor was very delicious. It really was a showcase for excellent chocolate and as I do love chocolate, I loved the cookie. It is not as sweet as I had expected and instead the intense chocolate flavor shone and made for a lovely bite. It is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It is the ultimate adult cookie as I don't think kids would be appealed to by its intense bittersweet flavor.
I can say I've done it. I raise both my hands up in the air in a Rocky-style victory and say YES! It may have only been chocolate chip cookies, but they were really yummy and they were Keller's recipe. VICTORY! (I am now slightly less intimidated by him, but not by much. Mr. Keller Chef Sir, I hope you do not read my blog.)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller)
Makes about 3 dozen, 3-inch cookies
2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 oz 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
5 oz 70 to 72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark grown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Sift flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.
Put chips in a fine mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate "dust."
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter (1 stick) on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes until mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in chocolate.
Remove bowl from mixer and fold dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)
Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between the,b because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are not longer shiny, switching the position and rotating pans halfway through baking. (I just baked pans one at a time in the middle of the oven.)
Cool cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with second batch of cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)
The chocolate stash that was called to duty for this cookie. (Actually bought at Trader Joe's.)
Great cookie scoop (includes muffin scoop and mini muffin scoop)
Keller's less intimidating book
The book that made me strain my back at the library (you'll see why - almost 12 lbs)