Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cookie In A Jiffy

I don’t know if you are aware of it already, but you can freeze huge amounts of cookie dough in your freezer and cook them up whenever you want and in the quantity you want.  You can bake a dozen for your kids' after school snacks or just one as a treat to yourself!

I did just that for J’s recent birthday party.  You see, three consecutive days prior to her party date, I was at the poolside supporting her for qualifying and participating in her first ever National Long Course Finals, where all of the best swimmers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao came together to compete against each other in Rizal Memorial Sports Complex’s 50-meter pool.

In the days leading up to her birthday, I was wondering how to squeeze in time to bake up a batch of fresh cookies for her party… considering that I also had to prepare food on the table each night… and help the younger ones with their lesson and bring them to training, as well… and attend a friend’s party the night before. Whew!

So I decided to break up the baking process.  I made two batches, with two different techniques. 
Three nights prior to the party, I made the first batch of cookies and froze them individually as balls.  Two nights prior, I made another batch that I let rest in the mixing bowl.  On the eve of the party, I baked the gazillion of cookies… and devoured a few while doing so!

I should tell you that I make large cookies like the one you see at premium coffee shops.  Cookies that are this large are sturdy with a thick crunchy shell and tender, chewy centers that everyone loves.

Directions for freezing individual balls:
1.  Scoop out the dough using an ice-cream scooper to ensure even-sized cookies.  You can also just use your measuring cup, if you don’t have a scooper.
2.  Fill a baking tray with the scooped-out cookie dough balls, leaving just enough space between the cookie dough balls that they don't get stuck together.
3.  Stick the filled pan in the freezer for an hour or two until firm.  
4.  Meanwhile, take a large-sized freezer bag and label it with the recipe name, date, cooking temperature and time details.
5.  Remove the pan from the freezer. Take all of the cookie dough balls out of the pan and place them in the labeled bag.
6.  Store the cookies in the freezer for later use.

To bake from frozen:
1.  Remove as many balls as you want to bake and let them rest that at the kitchen counter while you are pre-heating your oven.
2.  You can bake these at the same temperature called for in the recipe; just give them a minute or two longer.

For the second method, I remember reading a New York Times article about choco chip cookies about two or three years ago, and in the article the experts have their own cookie-making theories on how letting the cookie dough rest a night or two inside the refrigerator resulted in superior tasting cookies.  So with that in mind, I decided to do that for the second batch I made 
Directions for letting the dough rest in the mixing bowl:
1.  Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
2.  When you are ready to bake, simply let the dough warm up to room temperature and scoop away. This will take several hours, so plan ahead.

Technically speaking, since both batches had to “rest”, they both came out tasting and looking the same.  It just all comes down to a matter of preference and how much time you have in your hands.  For those of you with no time to waste, I would personally recommend scooping the dough into individual balls as the dough can go straight from the freezer and into the oven.

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Chip Cookies
New York Times

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt.
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Click here for the printable recipe.

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