Chocolate Chip Cookies and Magic Middles Attempt #1

No baking tonight, but I will take this time to post about my last 2 experiments this week…

After having baked three days in a row, I officially dub this week Cookie Week.  Monday was the oatmeal-raisins, Tuesday was chocolate chips, and yesterday was my first attempt at a “Magic Middles” type of cookie (more on this later).  Oh, you remember Magic Middles, don’t you?  That commercial with the Keebler Elves in their tree, making these shortbread cookies with the chocolate middles?  No?  Here:

Anyway, first the chocolate chip cookies.  I normally wouldn’t have bothered to make chocolate chip cookies because I’d been there, done that, in fact I wasn’t even going to write about them…But my friend requested them so instead of using the tried-and-true Nestle Tollhouse recipe, I wanted to see what better recipes I could find.  For one, Nestle Tollhouse cookies end up being full of flavor, yet flat in consistency.  As I’ve said before, I like thicker, chewy/gooey cookies.  My search led me to numerous bakers’ blogs and this in turn led back to the Food Network’s web site yet again.  I present to you Alton Brown’s “The Chewy”:

Now in the pictures, they look like ordinary chocolate chip cookies, but one taste and you know they’re something special.  The taste of butter comes right through, the cookie itself is not too sweet, the thickness is just right…and it stays soft and chewy even if you overbake slightly (like I did with the first batch).  A few warnings about the recipe though — when melting the butter, you have to be careful to watch it and remove it as soon as you see the last bit of solid butter dissolve, otherwise when you combine it with the sugars, the creamy consistency the recipe talks about becomes impossible.  These cookies are also sensitive to overbaking, so you have to keep watching them to see if they’re baking just right.  Once the oven has been heating for quite some time, sometimes 14 minutes can be too much as I found with my third batch.  Of course, I made a few substitutions and put my own touches on the cookie too.

In an attempt to re-create the Magic Middle cookies of my childhood, I took a butter cookie recipe that was supposed to be filled with an almond/chocolate filling and substituted my own filling — Nutella.  The dough was easy enough to make, and didn’t require any eggs.  What I was really interested in was the technique of getting the filling inside.  I didn’t follow the instructions to a tee — I didn’t bother to roll out the dough into an 18″ log then cut it up into 1/2″ pieces.  Instead I used a teaspoon to scoop some dough, roll it into a ball, and made a bowl into which I could place the Nutella, sealing the opening by pinching it shut, and putting it onto the cookie sheet, seam side down.  Once baked, the recipe suggests rolling the cookies in powdered sugar, since the dough itself, with only 2 tablespoons of sugar, does not offer much sweetness.  Definitely must follow this step, as without it, the dough, while buttery, is quite flat.

Butter dough “bowl” with Nutella filling inside before sealing.

These cookies were very tedious and labor-intensive, as you have to roll a piece of dough into a ball, make the ball into a bowl, and then carefully place the Nutella inside — I used about a half teaspoon for each ball.  Simple, but tedious.  However, the process is actually a bit calming, plus the dough bowl looks kind of cute.  The recipe makes about two dozen.

I tried one after baking, and was a bit disappointed at the flatness of the taste.  I rolled it in confectioner’s sugar and it tasted a bit better.  The disappointment I felt deflated my spirits a little, but I also might have been feeling a bit burnt out after having baked two types of cookies already this week — I don’t normally bake three days in a row!  Next time I will probably add some more sugar to the recipe.  I don’t want to have to roll it in confectioner’s sugar.  In fact, maybe next time I’ll incorporate the confectioner’s sugar into the dough… 

At first I thought, “Not enough filling?”  But it turns out I put enough in the others I’ve eaten.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about the Magic Middle experience.  I failed to achieve what I had envisioned, but on the other hand, what I did end up with wasn’t that bad.  Just when I was starting to look at the Nutella-filled cookies as the “ugly duckling” of the three cookies I made this week, I actually had them today, and was pleasantly surprised — the flavors got a chance to settle, and the confectioner’s sugar started to blend better with the buttery flavor of the dough.  I had maybe six of them tonight!  My ugly duckling turned into a swan!  Not bad after all…These cookies are good in and of themselves.  I think once I stop comparing them to the Magic Middles I remember from childhood, the more I appreciate them.  These cookies were a success after all, but not in the way I expected.

 They’re actually as good as they look…

And so the quest for achieving that “Magic Middles” consistency and flavor continues…

Recipes in this post:

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