KITCHEN NOTES: Recipe Development::Spiced Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Autumn is finally here - my favorite season of the year. A time between the warmth of summer and the cold of winter. Granted, it's still in the 80s here in Texas, but soon it will start to cool down and we'll be sitting in front of the fireplace looking out of the large picture window at gray skies before we know it.

Autumn is also the time when I start to spend more time in the kitchen. A time when the scent of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg start filling the air. A time when the sweet scent of the hot air from the oven envelopes the kitchen with happiness. It's also a time when the sink and counters overflow with dirty dishes waiting to be washed up for the next batch of cookies or a simple kuchen (cake). Really, anything sweet that needs to be baked.

This week I decided to replace all of my baking spices with freshly ground ones from my favorite spice shop. I drove over to the shop this past Monday (the packets below have the incorrect date on them) after dropping off the younger two at school and bought two different types of cinnamon (the other one being the Saigon Cassia Cinnamon). I decided to use the Organic True Ceylon version for these cookies.

This recipe started as a few scribbles in my kitchen journal - the one I took with me while vacationing in Berlin this past summer. I never got around to baking these, but felt that now was a good time to make something with spices and chocolate. Real chocolate - despite the fact that I have at least seven different bags of chocolate chips sitting in the pantry.

Now, cinnamon that's been sitting around for two years in no way resembles what I purchased. In the past, I've bought all of my spices in bulk from the grocery store. Having discovered the Savory Spice Shop back in March, I now exclusively purchase all of my spices here. The spices are freshly ground each week and their selection is astonishing. Plus, everyone who works there is exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly.

After my last chocolate chunk cookies, I wanted to change the recipe so that I had more of a chewy texture rather than cakey. It's not that I disliked the cakey version. I simply wanted something different. The main changes I made - adding bread flour, more butter, and more brown sugar than granulated sugar. The result was a flat and chewy cookie full of spicy flavours and chocolate throughout.

I scooped out the dough with almost-level tablespoonfuls which yielded in 36 cookies. They didn't last long.

 

Spiced Chocolate Chunk Cookies

this batch made 36 cookies

 

INGREDIENTS

100 grams all-purpose flour

125 grams bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used the regular Baleine sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Organic True Ceylon Cinnamon)

1/2 teaspoon ginger (I used Organic Chinese Ginger)

1/4 teaspoon allspice (I used Jamaican Allspice)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves (I used Madagascar Cloves)

200 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

150 grams light muscavado sugar

50 grams granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

100 grams bittersweet chocolate (I used El Rey 73.5%), chopped in half-inch chunks

Vanilla extract not pictured - forgot to photograph it

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat oven to 350°F. Line three rimmed baking sheets (I use jelly roll pans) with parchment paper.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, with whisk attachment and on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy (about 2 minutes). Add sugars and continue beating at same speed for another 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add whole egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated.

With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture. Beat just until combined.

Remove bowl from mixer stand and gently fold in the chocolate chunks.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer. Drop dough by non-rounded tablespoonfuls spaced about two inches apart.

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully slide paper with cookies onto a large cooling rack.

Continue with rest of dough. This yielded exactly 36 flat and chewy cookies.

 

THE NOTES (as jotted down in my journal):

My previous attempts at a chewy cookie recipe didn't work. While the cakey version still tasted great, I wanted to see how I could make the cookie more chewy. I spent my summer vacation researching just that and came up with something that worked. The percentage of butter needed to be increased (88% as opposed to 33% in my Amethyst Chocolate Chunk Cookies - in baker's percentages). I also found out that bread flour, due to it's high protein content, was able to absorb more liquid which would result in a more chewy texture. Using brown sugar also contributed to chewiness.

Thus, this recipe was born. And although there are myriads of chocolate chip/chunk cookie recipes...this is another of my versions.

Changes I would try for next time:

There weren't too many notes for this recipe. As I'm never able to "just let things be", I'm always finding something to either change for next time or to create a new recipe.

* Use melted butter. Per my research this summer, and from past experience, I discovered that melted butter also contributes to a more chewy cookie. Somehow I forgot to use that technique here.

* Omit the allspice. My husband mentioned that he noted the taste of baking soda. After tasting a few cookies (all for the sake of experimenting), I noted that it might be the allspice that was overly "spicy" and "peppery".

* Reduce baking time by one or two minutes. 10 minutes as opposed to 12.

* Let cookies sit on baking sheet until slightly cooled. I took the cookies off the baking sheet immediately. Will let them cool down slightly next time.

* For another version...omit the chocolate. My original notebook scribbles did not include adding chocolate. It was simply a spice cookie.