Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have always been fascinated by the desserts in my various crock pot cookbooks, especially ones that are cake-like.  For the last two years, however, I've taken the opportunity to try out some of these desserts for my department's Advent party.  (The problem with this is that, because I have to bring it to the party, some of the really awesome ones, which should really be served warm, won't work.)  Last year, I made the Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Cake from the Crock-Pot Incredibly Easy Recipes cookbook, but this year I tried Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World.

The thing about this recipe is that you're really just making cookie dough and cooking it in the crock pot instead of the oven, so in that sense it's not something I would necessarily recommend if you want chocolate chip cookies.  It was fun for me because I wanted to try out another dessert from my crock pot and keep up the tradition of bringing a crock pot dessert to the Advent party, but were I to say, "Hey, I'd like to make some chocolate chip cookies from scratch!", this is not the way that I'd choose to make them.

You begin, however, by greasing the slow cooker.  Obviously, I don't have a picture of that.  The recipe calls for using butter or vegetable oil.  To make it easier, however, I just used a nonstick cooking spray (my roommate actually bought a nonstick cooking spray especially for baking, so I used that).  You also line the bottom of the crock pot with wax paper.  I should have taken a picture of that in retrospect because I had a fun time trying to get the wax paper cut to the right size to fit the bottom of the crock pot, but oh well.

Then you make the cookie dough, some of the steps of which you can see pictures of above.  You mix the wet ingredients together (butter, eggs, regular sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract) and the dry ingredients together, but separately from the wet ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt -- in this case, I did add the salt).  After then mixing the wet and dry ingredients together, you add in semisweet chocolate chips (yum).  The recipe actually calls for chopped walnuts to be added as well, but I don't like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies, so I skipped this step.

Now, what I should have done in making this recipe was to use my roommate's KitchenAid mixer, but at the time I was trying to get the cookies made and get changed before the party so I wasn't really thinking about that.  It's okay, however, because I had a good time mixing in the chips by hand.  Also, I would guess that most graduate students, especially those who are newly out of undergrad, do not own a KitchenAid mixer, so what I did is actually more in line with the graduate student spirit, even though I wasn't really thinking of that at the time.

Finally, you smooth the dough into the bottom of the slow cooker, cover it, and then let it cook for three hours on low.  The cookbook says that you should cook it "on low for about 3 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean," and that you should "set the lid slightly ajar for the last 30 minutes."  I followed these directions, but then ran into the same problem I had when I made the cake in the crock pot the year before: I got paranoid because it looked like the cookies weren't done.  My paranoia is compounded by the fact that we never have toothpicks, so I have to use a knife to test done-ness when baking, something that doesn't have quite the same desired effect as a toothpick.

So this is what the dish looked like at the end of three hours.

And this is what it looked like after I let my paranoia get the better of me and kept it cooking for another hour.

What I did in the end is just to resist my paranoia and take it out even though I wasn't sure that it was done.  To take the cookies out of the crock pot, you remove the insert and let them cool for about 30 minutes before turning it over to dump the cookies out.

So the image to the right is what the cookies looked like when I had cut them for the Advent party.  The recipe says that it serves six to eight and obviously I got more slices out of that, but I think that the recipe expects you to cut bigger slices than I did.  Now, obviously, these don't really look like "cookies," per se, and it's actually really telling that the end of the recipe in the cookbook asks you to "cut the cake" (emphasis is my own).  Regardless, it wasn't that bad and I think it all got eaten at the Advent party (or at least a lot of it did).  It might have come out a bit dry because of my paranoid over-cooking, but it wasn't really too bad there either.  Were I to make this again, I'd take it out after three hours as recommended.

Now, as my readers know, normally and analyze the recipes I review in terms of cost and calories per serving.  I'm not going to do that for this one, however.  I had all of the ingredients already except for vanilla extract and chocolate chips, so the amount I spent doesn't really reflect the cost per serving.  In terms of calories... well, they're chocolate chip cookies... they're not healthy.  I'll just leave it at that.

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