For a party a few weeks ago, I tried Abby Dodge's One-Pot Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Weekend Baker (which deserves another plug—it's that good). They came out delicious, but they were disconcertingly (and somewhat unappetizingly) pale. She specifically warns against overbaking, but they never browned. Luckily for me, the amazing folks over at CooksTalk came to the rescue. Someone promptly taught me that baking powder contains baking soda and enough acid to neutralize the soda but doesn't influence the color of cookies, whereas baking soda by itself is alkaline and is a major contributor to browning. This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon baking powder, so she suggested I try 1/2 teaspoon baking soda instead. I was hesitant, so she went off and made a batch herself and then provided a photo to show how lovely and brown they came out! She also did one tray at 350° using conventional heat and one try at 325° using convection, because I'd asked about that, too. She said there was no difference. This is a person whose real name I don't even know, and she went and did this, all in the name of getting to the bottom of a kitchen mystery. Imagine that.
So, for yesterday's block party, I made the cookies again, this time substituting 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for the 1 teaspoon baking powder. Perfect! (top photo) Well, except for one thing: There's a part where you let the hot butter mixture cool, but I didn't wait long enough, so some of the chocolate chips melted and ended up kind of marbleizing some of the cookies. (bottom photo) Didn't affect the flavor or texture at all, though! They were gone almost as soon as I put them down on the potluck table. We had beautiful weather and I think it's safe to say that a great time was had by all. We even got to meet our new neighbors, who've been here long enough that I was feeling really guilty that I hadn't stopped by yet.
One-Pot Chocolate Chip Cookies
26 18 cookies.
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (6 oz.) chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, optional
Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or Silpat liners.
Put the butter in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Slide the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk until no lumps remain. Set aside to let cool,
about 5 at least 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder soda, and salt. Whisk until well blended. Once the butter mixture has cooled, add the egg and vanilla and whisk until blended. Pour in the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips
and the nuts, if using.
Drop scant 2-tablespoon mounds of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden around the edges and puffed, about 12 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, life the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.