In this edition of Dear TMH I share a reader’s spice storage system and update my quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Want me to test out a recipe or a cleaning tactic you’ve heard about? I’ll do that, too. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a note in the comments.
Reader Vanessa e-mailed me the above photo with the following note:
Just to follow up on your mason jar post … I recently put together my spice cabinet with some mason jars (my favorite).
Vanessa, I love this photo for many different reasons. You’ve created your own two-level spice rack that fits perfectly in your kitchen cabinet. The spices look beautiful sitting in their jars. Best of all, you’ve made labels for each spice with an automatic label maker. (It was a P-Touch, right? I’d recognize that font anywhere.) I really appreciate your consistency, too. Even jars that hold recognizable spices – like chili pepper flakes and bay leaves – have labels.
Keep up the good work, and I hope your organizational system inspires others. My own storage system isn’t nearly as classy.
After I published a post about the best way to make flavorful and chewy chocolate chip cookies, reader NJGuy99 commented that letting the cookie dough rest overnight was another way to optimize flavor. I recalled an old New York Times article about chocolate chip cookies where tasters tested the cookies after the dough had sat for 12, 24 and 36 hours. The 36-hour-aged dough was the favorite. Could we optimize flavor by beating the eggs and butter for a long period of time (as recommended in my initial post) and let the final dough age? NJGuy99 took this concept and ran with it. He said:
The results are in. I let the dough sit for 4 days before baking it this morning. The resulting cookies spread nicely and baked up golden brown. But, of course, you don’t care about that.
The taste was, indeed, full of caramel and toffee notes. There was something extraordinary about it I can’t quite put my finger on.
However, I will say the cookies did bake up extra-crisp and flatter than normal. I wonder if that’s because the whipping destroyed some of the structure of the butter? Paging any food scientists…
I wonder if the cookies were flatter not because of the extra whipping, but because the long rest weakened the baking soda’s leavening power.
NJGuy99 has done fantastic research, but I think we can take this a step farther. We need to age cookies that have been beaten more and ones that haven’t. We know cookies that have been beaten longer take on caramel and toffee flavors. Is this equivalent to 24 hours aging in the fridge?
Over the next week I’m going to give this topic the serious study in needs (nay, demands). Here’s the experimental setup: For three days I will mix batches of chocolate chip cookies using the two different mixing methods. On the final day, I’ll bake everything. The next day, once the flavors have settled, I’ll test. We’ll know, once and for all, whether aging time or mixing style has a bigger effect on final cookie taste.