Friday, January 17, 2014

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies for Young Bakers

I've sort of been on a chocolate-chip cookie baking spree lately, ever since my daughter told me that of all the things I bake, those are her absolute favourite. She likes knowing what's cooking in the kitchen, and loves watching especially when I bake. Even more so when I bake her favourite.

It makes my husband and I very happy that she's interested in food, so we try to involve her whenever she comes to the kitchen. Sometimes it's something as simple as fetching a ziploc, but it gives her a sense that she's contributed. Given the nature of some types of cooking, it's not always safe for a four-year old to participate, but she's good about watching from afar. I want to sustain her interest in food, which is why I love this recipe I'm sharing now, because she was able to do most of the work herself. And that look of mingled joy / wonder / pride on her face as she realised she had done it made the whole process that much more precious :)
Most cookie recipes begin with creaming butter and sugar, for which I normally use either electric beaters or my bench mixer. But while I was researching chocolate chip cookies, I came across these fantastic posts (here and here). Prior to reading them, it had never occurred to me that you can use melted butter as well.

The great advantage of using melted butter, especially when you've got eager beavers ready to assist, is that you don't need heavy-duty mixing equipment. A whisk, or even a simple fork, will suffice to combine the butter with the sugar and egg.

Then, as I further browsed through this great site by Baker Bettie, I found an easy recipe for 5 ingredient chocolate chip cookies. I had never seen such a no-frills version of this hugely popular cookie before. It runs on my husband's favourite cooking principle: minimum effort, maximum results :). Again, it's perfect when you're baking with young kids as there's hardly any prep work involved and you have the payoff ready in minutes!

I tweaked Baker Bettie's recipe by using melted butter, adding vanilla, and using the standard two types of sugar - white and dark brown. Because of the melted butter, my four-year old was easily able to do most of the mixing herself. I gave her a spatula to mix the flour and chips in, and showed her how to fold them in gently without them flying out the bowl :)

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: approx 3 dozen (with a tablespoon-sized scoop)

1/2 cup or 113 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/4 cup plain flour
3/4 to 1 cup chocolate chips (milk, dark, white .... whatever you prefer)

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
2. I melted the butter in a glass mixing bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts (or melt over the stove in a saucepan if that's easier for you). Once mostly cooled, add both sugars and whisk till smooth.
3. Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
4. Use a spatula to gently mix in the flour and chocolate chips.
5. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough a couple of inches apart onto the lined baking trays. Bake for 10-12 minutes, just till the edges of the cookies have browned.
6. Take out of the oven and leave on the tray to cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully. Store in an airtight container when completely cooled. 


Does this make the most decadent chocolate chip cookie in the world? No. But despite its humble beginnings, it's a delicious cookie, perfect for a quick teatime treat, or for initiating first-time bakers of all ages. 

One final note: most sites tell you to use a scoop to drop the dough; I tend to use the tablespoon from my measuring spoon set which is the same thing, except there's no release mechanism so I have to use a butter knife to plop the dough from spoon to tray. The reason I do this is to make smaller cookies. My daughter and I have a two-cookie deal at snack time; when the cookies are smaller, I don't mind so much if she can't resist an extra cookie :)