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No, There’s probably little chance that you can make cookies as good as these

ImageThe best way you can actually get your hands on these is to take my General Biology, Microbiology or Ecology class. Much like a magician’s slight of hand, baking exceptionally delicious cookies is just not something that can be done without a long apprenticeship, years of dedication and highly selective ingredient choice.

Given all that, I feel no fear that sharing my recipe will reduce the relative supremacy of my own cookies. And since I’m home today with a sick boy, it’s just the right timing to make up a scrumptious batch.

The Recipe (Altered subtly, but importantly from the original Nestle TollHouse instructions)

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons home-made vanilla-in-vodka extract

2 large farm-fresh eggs from the

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle Chocolate Chunks

1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chunks and nuts. Drop by massive flops onto  parchment paper atop insulated baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove immediately to wire racks to cool with a high quality spatula such as Williams-Sonoma’s Fish Spatula

FAQ

-Really? ‘Massive flops’? Don’t you worry about making your cookies too big?

Don’t be a sissy. These are real cookies. If you want that little crap, pick up a bag of Chips-Ahoy.

-But Don’t they run into each other when they cook?

What did I say about being a sissy. Next question.

-Why Baking Soda AND Baking Powder?

Because sometimes you need to do it right. I would love to cite Cook’s Illustrated here, but their article / video on this topic is behind the paywall. Suffice to say it’s just better that way. Also see here.

-Is it necessary to use the parchment paper? Nestle just says to grease the cookie sheet.

That’s totally what you should do. Grease the sheet. Then scrape off the cookies when they get stuck, burn the batch you just forgot in the oven while dealing with the burnt bits on this sheet and then have more to wash up when you finish. Or, you could use parchment paper.

-Is there some music that goes best with cooking cookies?

Yes. You should listen to Rush, Journey and Marillion – but be careful with Rush, because they try to sneak in a bunch of crap songs when you’re not paying attention.  – And you bake cookies.

– What about high-end gourmet chips?

Funny. They all come out worse than the Nestle ones. Stick to what works.

-Do you eat the dough, while you’re cooking – I mean baking?

Yes, of course I do.

-Do I need to get my own backyard chickens for farm-fresh eggs?

Yes.

-What’s this about vodka-vanilla extract?

There’s a right way and a wrong way. You go on using imitation vanilla, I’ll use my own extract in vodka. We’ll see whose cookies are better.

-Is it true that chocolate chip cookies are best with milk?

Only if you’re out of espresso.

https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/wNYpAJCfTTg

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Milk and Oreo Cookies

ImageMilk isn’t just for Oreo cookies – although there’s really no better pairing. In fact, there’s been some recent work showing that rats become addicted to Oreo cookies in a way that is very similar to that seen when rats are given cocaine. If you’ve had oreos, you know that this is really no surprise now, is it?

“What that indicates,” Schroeder says, “is that, perhaps, high-fat, high-sugar foods are stimulating the brains in the same way as drugs of abuse and can be considered as a potentially addictive substance.”

-James Hamblin, How Oreos work like Cocaine. The Atlantic Magazine

ImageBut there’s something that makes Oreos even more perfect: Milk. But drinking milk is for babies – or at least it was. About 7,500 years ago people started drinking milk as adults. However, this wasn’t just a change in preference, it was a change in biology that allowed some people to tolerate milk as adults. It’s easy to imagine how this could help a family survive lean times: One family gets to hungry that they are forced to eat their animals, but another finds that they, unlike their neighbors – or anyone else, can drink the milk of their animals. These lucky people have chanced upon a mutation permitting the lactase enzyme to persist into adulthood and can now outlast their neighbors who were forced to eat their animals and hope that times changed before they ran out of food again.

Consider this video by HHMI’s Biointeractive on how lactose tolerance can be selected for and grow more common in a population over time.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid758608474001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAArZFA_pE~,D1__qX58jeojnVaNvVGJDHdd-poeB0lY&bctid=2117033287001

http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/natural-selection-lactose-tolerance

We’ll be exploring the genetics of lactose tolerance as an example of a simple mutation leading to a selective advantage next week in General Biology.  Until then, you may enjoy a good summary of lactose tolerance from the journal Nature.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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