This is especially true with these delectable chocolate chip cookies. I have churned out a total of five fairly large containers of them for this Chinese New Year. And prior to that, I’d made them three or four times. People don’t bake and eat them only during Chinese New Year. It’d be a shame to put them on the table and in our mouths just once a year.
Though you may be getting quite some Americanism throughout this blog, said chocolate chip cookies are not American whatsoever. First, they aren’t big but bite size. Second, they are neither soft nor chewy, nor moist and gooey. Then, they are supposed to sit in the oven for a fair amount of time before they are ready.
The cookies are baked for a good 25 minutes at 170°C (340°F), and then gently for another 10 minutes with the oven switched off and its door shut, until perfectly dry. The last 10 minutes brilliantly utilize the residual heat in the oven to cook the cookies, so you won’t end up with chocolate chip cookies with burned bottoms.
The result is crunchy vanilla-scented, chocolate-speckled cookies. They give off a mild nutty-buttery flavor. They aren't cloyingly sweet, too. Don’t be fooled by their humble appearance. Munching on one will get you started on a second, and then a third, and a fourth, until you have to arrest your hands for reaching out to the cookie jar far too often. (I’ve tried. It’s hard.)
These chocolate chip cookies are also developed for fairly long storage, say, up to a month. They are sturdy enough to be stacked and stored in a cookie jar, and even mailed to a friend or relative afar. Oh, have I told you they look handsome in a mini care package, too?
Of course, having said all these, this Chinese New Year won’t be my last of baking these “un-American” chocolate chip cookies. You may bump into them again here next Chinese New Year, or on my Flickr page whenever I have a hankering for these cookies. Who knows.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The 100 Handmade Cookies of Madam Meng (孟老師的100道手工餅乾), by Zhaoqing Meng (孟兆慶)
The original recipe actually calls for cake flour, which has relatively lower gluten content, compared to all-purpose flour. I’ve tried using both, and I find there’s no noticeable difference in texture and lightness. Either way, it’s to your call.
Also, these chocolate chip cookies taste gazillion times better with miniature semisweet chocolate chips, because you’d then have bits of chocolate evenly distributed in the cookie. Those made with regular-size semisweet chocolate chips somehow don’t taste right. So are those of milk chocolate chips — they tend to get a bit too sweet, at least to my liking.
By the way, the following recipe doesn’t yield a lot, so double, or even triple, the quantities, as you wish.
100 grams unsalted butter, softened
50 grams superfine sugar
1/8 heaped teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
50 grams whole egg(s), lightly beaten, at room temperature
150 grams all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon double-acting baking powder, preferably sifted
100 grams good-quality miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Line baking sheet(s) with parchment, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F.
In a medium-size mixing bowl, with a hand mixer on medium-high speed, cream together (A) until pale and fluffy. Then, on medium speed, gradually mix in the egg(s) to incorporate.
In another medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together (B) to combine. Then, with a large rubber spatula, by hand, mix the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, and halfway through, stir in the chocolate chips, to combine. The dough should look rather gloppy. Don’t overmix, or you’d end up with rock-hard cookies.
With help from a spoon or two, drop the dough, about 15 grams per cookie, onto the prepared sheet(s). Leave about one centimeter of space between the mounds of dough. Then, using your finger, flatten the top of each cookie slightly. Bake for 25 minutes, and then another 10 minutes with the oven switched off and its door shut. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before serving and/or storing. Repeat with the remaining dough (if any).
Yield: about 30 cookies