Heat Wave

June 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

Summer has officially arrived in New York, timed perfectly with a move to a new apartment on the Upper West Side. While I will miss my favorite East Village restaurants, I’m excited for a new neighborhood to explore and our new place. I could live in the kitchen alone! Most importantly, this apartment will feature a REAL dining table – no more dinners on the coffee table – and will open the door for a lot of cooking and entertaining with friends.

Apparently the owner of the condo we are renting shares my passion for cooking and kitchen gadgets, because she customized the kitchen with some fancy high-tech appliances including an ice cream maker, which will be getting quite a workout this summer. While we’ve only been moved in for a week, I’ve already found time to test the gas range and more importantly the convection oven. My time assisting a pastry chef one summer in high school instilled in me a love for convection ovens when baking. Gone are the burnt corners and bottoms of cookies and cakes. Instead the circulating heat of the convection oven perfectly and evenly cooks and browns all surfaces, vastly improving the end result.

Finding myself with some spare time last night, I decided it would be the perfect time to try a recipe for Tate’s cookies I came across on GOOP. I am firmly in the thin, crispy cookie camp and Tate’s spares no butter to make perfectly thin, crisp cookies that are sold all over New York. My favorite part about this recipe is that it only calls for mixing by hand with a wooden spoon, proving you don’t always need a hand or stand mixer to achieve a uniform, well-incorporated dough.

As the idea of having more than three dozen freshly baked cookies was a bit overwhelming and I only had about a cup of chocolate chips on hand, I halved this recipe. To give my convection oven a whirl, I baked the first batch on the conventional setting and the second with convection. The oven automatically lowered my preset temp of 350 degrees to 325 for convection and the cookies took about twice as long to bake. I kept the size and spacing of the dough the same for the sake of a controlled experiment. The difference, as you see below, was remarkable! My first batch did not resemble Tate’s in the slightest. They were slightly raised and still a bit soft in the middle even as the edges and bottom verged on becoming too brown. The second batch, however, was a dead ringer. The browned butter taste and perfectly crisp, thin texture were spot on. Based on these results, I have high hopes for future baking endeavors!

Convection baking on the left; conventional on the right.

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: GOOP)

Yield: About 40 cookies

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl. In another large bowl, mix the butter with a wooden spoon to lighten it a bit and then mix in the sugars. Add the water, vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined and then fold in the chocolate chips. Using two soup spoons, drop the cookies 2″ apart onto two nonstick or greased cookie sheets. Bake for eight minutes, rotating the sheets after four minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool, and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.

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§ One Response to Heat Wave

  • Sean Donohue says:

    Virginia, only you are capable of taking the “scientific method” approach to baking cookies sound like a fun Sunday afternoon adventure. Lauren and I are happy to take the Tate’s off your hands. Keep up the good work.

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