Sunday, December 14, 2008

Worst. Cookies. Ever.

Last week, Mark Bittman posted a new recipe for The Mother Of All Butter Cookies. His point was that this recipe was akin to a mother sauce and an easy and flexible base that could be turned into butterscotch cookies, chocolate chip cookies, citrus cookies... Sounds great, huh?

Some of you might ask: the Tollhouse Cookies are an all-time classic for a reason, how can you possible improve on them? Good question. I'd like the cookies to be a little more fluffy, but I'm not sure how to do this without using shortening, which I don't like.

There were a few things in the recipe that are certainly unusual, but conventional wisdom in cooking is not always right. First of all, the dough is mixed in a food processor. But this works well for pie dough. Second, it has a lot of cornstarch. Cornstarch? The reason Bittman gives is "to avoid overdeveloping gluten" and to add a "silken quality" to the cookies. Finally, it has unsalted butter, but only calls for a "pinch" of salt. Is that enough? On the other hand, it has a larger butter-to-flour ratio than the tollhouse cookies, and butter is good.

Well, the food processor appeared to work reasonably well; it was definitely cookie dough that came out (though my kitchenaid was standing there watching forlornly). But the cookies? The recipe suggests baking for 11 minutes at 375 F (and our oven is reasonably well calibrated). After 10 minutes, the bottoms were brown and the tops were uncooked. The chocolate chips weren't even melting. After a total of 15 or 16 minutes we just took them out. They were completely uncooked in the middle; the chocolate chips were barely warm; they had the texture and flavor of raw cornstarch; there was no flavor (possibly related to the lack of salt).

I wouldn't serve these cookies to my worst enemies. I put a comment on the Bitten blog, and it's still awaiting moderation. My guess is that the moderator is overwhelmed with people complaining that these are the

Worst. Cookies. Ever.

UPDATE: My comment has finally made it through moderation, along with a few more comments agreeing that these cookies suck.

4 comments:

Meredith said...

I use the tollhouse recipe myself- the longer you refrigerate, the fluffier they are. I also use a bit of self rising flour if I want extra fluff, and of course, there's the shortening route. I tend to put them in at 375, and lower it to about 360 about 5+ minutes through to avoid over-darkening on the bottoms.

Also, learned the best trick-- a little bit of sea salt on top before you put them in. OMG. (Thanks to http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/11/leites-connusmate-chocolate-chip-cookie/)

Now I want a cookie.

Eli said...

I tried the refrigeration route some time ago (I left them in overnight!) but it didn't seem to make a difference on the fluffiness front.

I'll try self-rising flour next time, as well as the salt on top! Thanks for the tips.

Heather W. said...

I tried making his egg drop soup just today, but it likewise was awful. :-/

Becky said...

It's so frustrating, because some of his recipes -- like his no-knead bread -- are really good.

Heather, that reminds me that we tried a stir-fry of his, and it was so terrible that we vowed to never again try an ethnic recipe of his.