09 December, 2007

Cups - am I missing something?

I am in a cookie baking mood. And when you bake cookies you really want to follow the masters. Now we may quibble about much of the food that the United States has given us, but the cookie is in so many ways a good thing. Soft, chewy, moreish, and endlessly adaptable. Plus it takes no time to bake a batch and stuff yourself or your freezer.

But before you start baking American, you have to get your head around cups. I recently came across a discussion on the cookie madness blog all about the wisdom of using scales - as far as I could tell all the other participants apart from me were American. Having attempted some Sour Cream Chocolate Cookies from a recipe on the same site, I have decided that scales definitely have the edge. But I'm not put off yet and nor is the lovely Tom, who has now buried himself deep in the development of a conversion widget to translate recipes off the web. This is not as easy as it sounds as volume and weight are different things entirely so you have to find density figures for each foodstuff. And then you have to "parse unstructured recipes" (that bit was from Tom).

This afternoon we collaborated and ended up with this

But before we got that far we had to navigate our way through the recipe (which will follow with conversions at the end). This leads me to a few questions to cup-users.

For example, when you use cups to measure butter you don't really do it like this do you?

Or is your butter like our margarine and really soft? Or does it come in handy sizes in the shops? My problem with stuffing it in a cup is that when I did, I got 75 grams when the recipe called for 120 grams.

And another thing. Do you have several different sets of cups for wet and dry ingredients? I ended up washing my cups out several times during the measuring process and as I am clumsy and the cups are small, the counter was quite a mess too. I can't be doing this right! Don't even get me started on packing sugar or spooning and not scooping flour to get the right amount...

Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter (120 g) softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 g) I used granulated for authenticity but I think we'd probably use caster which I learn isn't widely available in the US
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (100 g)
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream (125 ml) I used creme fraiche as it's what I had
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups plain flour (200 g) Not sure I read this bit right - is it 1 and 3/4 or 1 to 3/4. I went for the former and they worked
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (50 g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plain chocolate chips I used 200 g which is what I had

Preheat oven to 175 degree Centigrade.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and both the sugars. Beat in the egg, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 175 degrees for 12 minutes or until set - do not overbake. They should still look moist on top when you taken them out and will set as they cool.

Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes an unknown quantity. Actually the original recipe says it makes 3 dozen but my rounded tablespoonfuls would have yielded 18 in total until I decided these were obscenely large cookies and halved the quantity per cookie. Using a teaspoon would get you more cookies and they are so rich that small ones are fine.

Result: fabulous cookies. Next stop more conversions...


Anonymous said...

Hi Eliane!

I'm happy to hear you liked the cookies. In the future, I'm going to start listing grams. I've asked for a new scale for Christmas (my old one only has ounces) and am going to throw ingredients on the scale as I go. Converting is kind of a pain, but if we take the process one cookie at a time we can go global ;).

Eliane said...

To be honest, I'm happy with ounces but that just shows my age as things went metric here some years ago and anyone under 35 is at sea with pounds and ounces. As I said, Tom is working on an online widget - will let you know how it goes!