Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baking, honest critiques, and a recipe

I baked cookies last weekend to bring to work and share. I have fun with the baking, and I enjoy the coolness points I get for sharing cookies. And I share them with pretty much everyone: mall staff, the Cinnabon gang, the Arts Council staff, random strangers in elevators. It was a somewhat invented recipe, like most of what I bake these days, so I always ask for comments, critiques, and suggestions. And, after a few years and a few dozen baking experiments, I actually get honest critiques now. I think people usually assume when you ask for criticism, that you're really asking for compliments and praise. But the people I work with have had enough unusual baked goods from me that they really take me seriously. So I get lots of real criticism. This batch of cookies earned me a batch of criticisms ranging from "too salty" to "too crispy", with a very special "too much like Chips Ahoy" in the mix. And, even though I ask for a critique, and even though I'm happy to get an honest critique, I still find myself getting a bit defensive. I don't voice it, but a little voice in the back of my head always takes a little offense, and occasionally even fires out a snide comment ("what do you mean, too salty? These are great cookies! Too salty, pah! Maybe your problem is that you're too tarty, wench!"), which I also never voice. But, even if criticism stings my ego a bit, I always appreciate it. And I think maybe they were too salty, and probably too crispy too.

In any case, here's the recipe, modified a bit for less crispiness and less salt. I think me might be stuck with the Chips Ahoyness.

Jeff's Experimental Chocolate Chip Cookies, attempt # 33481

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup butter-flavored Crisco
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
--cream together in stand mixer; scrape sides often, and cream extremely well. Add:
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp chocolate extract
2 tbsp molasses
--mix until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix together:
4-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
--add to wet ingredients and mix until soft dough forms; don't overmix. Stir in:
2 12-ounce bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12-ounce bag milk chocolate chips
--drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (or, my preference: a #40 cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets, flatten a bit, and bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for a minute or two, but not longer, before transferring to paper towels to finish cooling. Safe to store in airtight containers after half an hour, and they'll keep for four days; I suspect they'll keep for ten days, but the last cookie disappeared late on day four so that's all I can guarantee.

Enjoy the cookies! Let me know if they're too bitter, or too sweet, or too much like Ronald McDonald's Chocolate Chip Cookies, or whatever.... :-)

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