I can’t even wonder about starting my day without my beloved chocolate cookies. Deliciously fragrant, these ultimate dunking biscuits are easy to bake and, believe me, they always turn out right! You are drooling aren’t you? Well, read the recipe here!
Every single day I am used to having a cup of hot scented tea, and 3 chocolate chip cookies (yes, number 3, not more!). Otherwise my day isn’t a good one. This is my magical potion which cheerfully wakes my up and helps me to face the whole day ahead. Well, it might not be the best nutritional option (you know, I am very accurate and strict when I am at work) but, this is what best fits my morning meal. It is an energizing start of the day, I feel healthy and full of energy: I don’t need to eat anything until lunch.
I can’t remember where I got the recipe of these very easy cookies.(I might have been given it by my mum, but I am not really sure about that). Yes I have changed it countless times-it “has grown up” with me.
Perfect biscuits? A few tricks
A few “confectioner’s” tricks will help you with baking tasty cookies. Experience, practice, and some tricks I was taught when I attended a pastry course, really made the difference-they do work! If you follow them, you will always be please with the result. I often get angry with the recipes I read on cookery books or magazines. I carefully follow their method, but the result…sometimes it is disappointing. Do you know why? Because you have to find out the underlying meaning!
Every sweet needs its now flour
The recipe says: flour. Underling meaning: you need the right flour. Which one?
Soft wheat flour is made from grinding soft wheat which has been deprived of all impurities and other external substances.
The types of flour you may encounter at the supermarkets greatly vary in terms of features and uses:
- Flour 00 (UK: patent flour or US: pastry flour): it is the most refined one, rich in starch best fits baked products which need a short and fast rising process, sweets in general, or fresh pasta;
- Flour 0 (UK: plain flour or US: all-purpose flour): it is mostly used to make bread because of its starch content;
- Flour 1 (UK: Strong bread flour or US: High gluten bread flour): it is less refined than the previous ones because it is richer in bran. It is used to bake bread, pizza and all the other products which need a long rinsing process;
- Flour 2 (UK: Brown flour or US: First clear flour): semi-whole wheat flour is rich in fibers and it preserves almost all the elements of the grain (it is the one I like best). It is used to make bread and products classified as “healthy” or “weight-loss-friendly” foods;
- Whole-wheat flour (UK: Wholemeal flour or US: Wholewheat flour): it is obtained from grinding the whole grain and it is used to make whole-wheat products.
How strong is your flour?
The strength of the flour depends on the how much gluten is created when it is mixed with water (flour+water+kneading=gluten).
You see it form when you knead your dough. It is so sticky that you can’t remove it from your fingers. The more you try to remove it from your hands, the more it sticks to them: you go wild! Well, that is the gluten: you may easily defeat gluten by adding little flour, and you are safe! The magnificent viscoelastic properties of the gluten make your baked products alive.
Some types of flour are sticker, other ones less sticky. They are classified according to the quantity of water they can absorb.
The more proteins (they are responsible for creating the gluten) the grain contains, the more gluten will form, the stronger the dough will get. The letter W classifies the types of flour.
High W means the flour is rich in gluten: it absorb more water and rises slowly, as the protein bond forms more slowly.
On the other hands if the W is low, the flour absorbs less water, and rises fast. The protein bond forms faster and releases gases more easily; the dough results light and fluffier.
An helpful classification of flours
Although W is not always stated on the packages. It is something you should own when you buy the flour to bake cakes or savory products as the final result depends on it 9 out of 10 times.
- Very weak/soft flour (90-130 W): it well suits cookies (I use it to make this recipe);
- Medium-soft flour (130-180W): for cakes, bignè, shortbread pastry, and cookies (if you can’t find soft four, you may use this one to bake dunking cookies);
- Medium flour (180-200W): very common on the market, it fits bread and pastry which do not need rising process (you may use it to bake your cookie as the last resort);
- Strong flour (200-240 W): it is used to make puff pastry and other baked products with yeast;
- Strengthened flour (240-310 W): fits baking products which have to rise for over 12-15 hours, such as pizza or bakery produce;
- Very strong flour (310-400 W): it best fits his sweets such as Italian Panettone Italiano, Pandoro, etc.
The strength of the flour does not depend on the refining process we have talked above. As you can see, flour issue is quite huge, but now I think these hints have cleared it out. You can go to the supermarket or at your local mill and buy the right flour according to what you want to make.
Cookies must be crunchy, not soft (it would not be a real cookie), so the trick is preventing the gluten from forming when you knead the dough, and cook them properly (not burn, off course).
Do not use semolina to bake cookies. It is made from durum wheat which fits pasta or other bakery products traditionally from the Southern Italy.
How can I cook my cookies?
Static or fan oven? Such an interesting question! There is not a single answer, it depends on what you want to cook.
The temperature makes the main difference: the two methods differ by about 20-25°C (68-77°F) .
Static oven is heated by the resistors which are placed both on the upper and lower parts of the cooking chamber. It mainly cooks via conduction and radiation. Gas ovens belong to this category, but, differently from ordinary static ovens, only the lower part is heated.
They provide a slower cooking, and they suit all the preparation which contain yeast, and should result well-done and dry, cookies for instances but also:
- every kind of cakes: sponge cake, crostata cakes, biscuits, muffins, plum-cakes, and so on…;
- bread and all kinds of flat bread (focaccia genovese for instance) or pizzas.
When you use the static oven, remove the dripping pan. It prevents the heat from spreading evenly and food won’t cook properly.
In a fan oven a fan at the back of the cooking chamber distributes the heat evenly and food is cooked faster via induction. In a fan oven, food gets pleasantly crunchy outside, but keeps moist inside.
Use it for:
- All the cookies and sweet you want to keep moist inside (so don’t use it to bake these cookies);
- Lasagna, every types of oven baked pasta, meat, fish, stuffed and grilled vegetables.
You don’t have a static oven
No worries, just increase the temperature by 20°C (68°F) and keep the same cooking times according to the recipe. For instance, if you want to bake a moist and fudge cake, increase the temperature to 200°C (392°) without changing cooking time.
On the other hand, if you have a static oven and you want to cook a sponge cake, decrease the temperature by 20°C (68°F). If it bakes at 180°C (356°), lower to 160°C (320°) without changing cooking time.
- 160 gr dark (better) big chocolate chips or chunks
- 220 gr flour type 00 or a mix of different kinds of four: 00, oat, spelt, whole-wheat and/or flour type 1 or 2. The quantity is your choice, but you should use at least 80gr of flour 00.
- 30 gr oat bran (be sure you use oat bran, not oat flakes)
- 1 tbs dark cocoa powder
- 1 bag vanilla baking powered he most suitable baking powder is composed of disodium pyrophosphate E450, sodium bicarbonate E500, and lightly vanilla flavored wheat starch, (Paneangeli baking powder)
- 2 eggs M-sized
- 120 gr butter
- 120 gr caster sugar
- In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter with the sugar;
- Add the eggs, one at a time and mix very well;
- Add the flour (or a mix of flours);
- When it is well combined, add the oat-bran and the cocoa powder;
- Now add the chocolate chips, and sieve in the baking powder not to make any lumps;
- Combine well, but not work the mixture too much;
- Make walnut-side scoops of the mixture (if they are they same size they will bake evenly) with your wet wet hands, flatten them to give them a round shape;
- Place them evenly spaced onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper;
- Preheat the static oven and bake at 180°C (356°F);
- Let them cool;
- Extra: in the meanwhile you may melt some chocolate in the microwave or “en bain Marie”: you can sandwich two cookies together with a dollop of chocolate;
- If you want more rustic and tempting cookies, lay more chocolate chips onto the baking tray, then place the scoops of mixture and top with more chips. Gently tap the cookies so the chips will evenly stick to them. Your cookies will get unbelievably mouthwatering.
- More tempting version: replace oat bran with dark cocoa powder for double chocolate cookies. Very dark chocolate ones, those I love for my breakfast!