Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baking up a storm

I started the day with the goal of making three different things - chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins, and zucchini bread. 9:00 pm rolled around and I went to start on the last of my three baked goods when I realized I didn't have enough brown sugar to make zucchini bread. I guess it will have to wait until another day.

I was on the quest today to make bakery quality chocolate chip cookies - the thick, chewy kind. I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but sadly my cookies did not turn out as I wanted them to and they definitely did not look like the picture on the recipe. The taste was good, with somewhat of a toffee flavor, and they were chewy. But they were pretty flat. I think the search is still on.

After I made my cookies, I found an article in the New York Times entitled, "Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie." Huh, go figure. It gave some great tips, particularly that you should let your dough rest for 36 hours before baking. This allows the dough to fully soak up the liquid, resulting in a drier firmer dough, which bakes to a better consistency. Translation - no more flat cookies! This article even gives a recipe (found here), so I'm excited to try it out!

I also made blueberry muffins. This recipe is by far the best I've tried - they always turn out moist and delicious. Try them out and enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the muffin tin
2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the top of the muffins
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen blueberries (or you can use 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the blueberries. Take care not to over mix the batter. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

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