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According to the National Day Calendar, Aug. 4 is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. So, why not grab a glass of milk, and learn from the East coast cookie experts on how to make the best chocolate chip cookie out there.
Barry Parsons, who runs Rock Recipes, a cooking and baking blog ranked as one of the most popular food blogs in the country, from his kitchen in St. John’s, N.L., knows the secret to making the best chocolate chip cookie. He says it is all about a great recipe and proper timing.
“I use standard ingredients, so no surprises there, but I do insist on real dairy butter in all my baking,” he says. “There is no substitute for real butter.”
Before baking, Parsons says to get to know your oven and your pans as these two variables can make a huge difference to your final product.
“I always recommend a trial of only three or four cookies as a first bake when using any new recipe, to determine the correct timing for your oven and pans,” Parsons says.
The darker the pans, the more quickly the heat will carry, which is often the cause for burnt or overbaked cookies. He recommends aluminum bakeware with a layer of parchment paper. Aluminum will carry the heat more evenly and cool faster, helping not to overbake your cookies.
Derrick Hoare, the proprietor and chef of The Table Culinary Studio in New London, P.E.I., agrees. He says when baking chocolate chip cookies, or any cookies, he recommends a metal tray with either reusable parchment or silicone pads. He especially likes the idea that the cookies won’t stick since he’s also the one who washes the dishes. This makes it fantastic for cleanup, he says.
There is some debate when it comes to how long cookies should be baked, and if the final consistency should be chewy or hard and crunchy.
Hoare says he turned to his restaurant guests for a highly scientific poll.
“Chewy wins hands down,” he says. “Of our guests, survey results showed an overwhelming 19 to 1 in favour of chewy cookies.”
For Parsons, the ideal cookie texture lies somewhere in between.
“The centre should definitely be softer and chewier, but the edges must be crisp. It is this balance of textures that make a great chocolate chip cookie,” he says.
Hoare says he’s got a secret ingredient in his chocolate chip cookies: P.E.I. maple syrup.
Others who like chocolate chip cookies may be looking for ways to make them healthier.
According to Lori Moore, a holistic nutrition consultant and culinary expert based in Kingsport, N.S., when attempting to substitute ingredients, there is some trial and error involved. Baking is a lot less forgiving than cooking, so it is best to closely follow recipes for baked goods, she says.
One of the first ways is to look at the sugar. Sugar content in recipes can almost always be reduced by up to 25 per cent without compromising the taste, although texture may vary when amounts of any ingredient are changed, says Moore.
Coconut sugar is a healthier alternative to white or brown sugar as it is less processed; however, they are all similar in terms of calories. The replacement is a 1:1 ratio, she says.
To make chocolate chip cookies vegan, Moore says to replace eggs and dairy in the recipe. Common egg substitutes are flax or chia seeds. For each egg, combine one tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flax with 3 tablespoons hot water and let sit until it becomes gelatinous. The chia or flax egg replaces the moisture and binding nature of the egg, explains Moore.
Many vegan recipes call for vegan butter replacement, but this is a processed food, so a better alternative is virgin coconut oil. Dairy milk can be replaced with nut, soy or oat milk, she adds.
Turning a traditional cookie recipe into a gluten-free recipe takes trial and error, as each change can alter the recipe significantly. Every flour has unique properties with different taste, texture and chemical reactions during baking, says Moore. Gluten-free baking typically combines at least two different kinds of flours, one that is protein rich, such as almond or chickpea, and a whole grain such as brown rice or sorghum flour.
If you’re altering a recipe for the first time it is easiest to purchase a prepared gluten-free flour blend. Bob’s Red Mill sells a gluten free 1:1 baking flour that would be the best alternative for bakers who are new to gluten-free baking.
Once mixed with your favourite ingredients, baked on your metal pans for the desired length of time for chewiness, your chocolate chip cookies will finally be ready to be eaten.
Hoare offers the best, last piece of advice.
“Give the cookies away to family and friends immediately, or else in my case, I will eat them all in a very short period and will have to start all over again!”
Recipe from Derrick Hoare, the proprietor and chef of The Table Culinary Studio in New London, P.E.I.
- 1 cup unsalted, melted and cooled butter
- 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar (l like golden)
- 1/2 white sugar
- 2 Farm fresh PEI eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup PEI Maple Syrup
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking sofa
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- Mix all the ingredients together and cover the bowl and put in the fridge for an hour. Roll into 2 tbsp balls and cook at 350 for 13 minutes. Keep the rest of the dough cool while cookies are baking. This ensures soft cookies that no one can resist.
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies:
- Recipe from Lori Moore Holistic Health
These gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookies are soft, chewy and perfectly sweet. They’re simple to make and sure to please everyone.
- Prep time: 5 minutes
- Bake time: 15 minutes
- Total time: 20 minutes
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons hot water)
- ¼ cup coconut oil (at room temperature)
- ¼ cup almond butter
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons nut or oat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand are dairy free)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Make flax egg by combining 1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons water. Let sit for five minutes so most of the water is absorbed, and mixture becomes gelatinous.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together coconut oil, almond butter and coconut sugar. Add milk, vanilla and flax egg and mix in.
- In a separate bowl combine almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Add chocolate chips and mix in to distribute throughout the cookie dough.
- Roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten out the balls to about 2.5” in diameter. Cookies will not spread during baking.
- Bake 14-15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cookies cool for 15 minutes.
- Makes about 20 cookies.