Sunday, January 29, 2012

A sweet hybrid: the cookie-muffin

I have told you this before; I'm not a huge lover of cookies. But every once in a while, I come across one that steals my heart away, one that makes me want to eat it again and again.






Granted, these are rare incidences and even rarer when it comes to cookies or biscuits that are not in my Greek repertoire, yet somehow I become hooked. I'm powerless to resist their allure, which of course leads to the complete disregard of my just one dessert/chocolate/piece of cake-a-week rule. Yes, I have to restrain myself like that.






So, I discovered something more exciting than a simple cookie. I discovered the cookie-muffin. Ok, some of you may already be familiar with the concept but up until a year ago, I wasn't.






Cookie-muffin or muffin-cookie, call it what you will, is cookie dough baked in a muffin tin. What you end up with, is basically a larger, moister cookie with a crunchy exterior and a soft and chewy interior. In this particular case, a soft and chewy interior filled with chocolate chunks that ooze out of the cookie-muffin when it's warm from the oven, and become solid little pieces of chocolate heaven once it's cooled. The Fleur de Sel accentuates the taste of the chocolate and gives the cookie-muffin an extra layer of flavor that you instantly notice when you take the first bite.






Ever since I discovered this sweet hybrid, my idea of a cookie changed drastically. The possibilities were endless. I ended up making every kind of cookie I knew into a cookie-muffin. Not all of them worked, but it was worth the try.






I based the recipe for this chocolate chunk cookie-muffin on a chocolate chip cookie recipe by master chocolatier Jacques Torres. I have to say, the original recipe is superb and it is definitely worth a try, but as I tinkered with it several times, I came up with something that better suits my tastes. Plus, Torres says you need to refrigerate the cookie dough for 24 to 36 (!) hours and I'm notorious for my lack of patience when it comes to things like that.






The main differences ingredient-wise, apart from quantities, are the omission of the baking soda, the substitution of the cake flour for all-purpose flour and the substitution of the light brown sugar for dark brown sugar. I love the strong molasses flavor of dark brown sugar, and the color it imparts to the cookie-muffin is so much more appealing to me than the paleness of the average choc-chip cookie.






I always try to find the right words to describe whatever kind of food, savory or sweet dish, or treat I share with you, and even though I know that the word 'delicious' is rather trite, there are times when that exact word is all I want to say, and mean it.
So, here it goes; this chocolate chunk cookie-muffin is simply delicious, reader.











Chocolate Chunk Cookie-Muffins with Fleur de Sel
Adapted from Jacques Torres via The New York Times

You can use Fleur de Sel (hand-harvested sea salt) or any other good quality coarse sea salt; Maldon sea salt flakes would be great as well.

I used chocolate with 70% cocoa solids but if you have a really sweet tooth then you can definitely use a 55%.

So, what if you don't have a muffin/cupcake tin? That's ok, you can simply make regular cookies instead. Just make sure you refrigerate the dough for an hour (so they won't spread a lot during baking) and then scoop small balls of dough (ping pong ball-shaped) onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, leaving a 3-4 cm gap between them, and bake them in the oven for 9-10 minutes.

The dough for these cookie-muffins freezes well and you can keep it in your freezer for up to 2 months. Shape the dough into small cylinders, take one out of the freezer, cut into 2-3 cm slices for cookies or 5-6 cm slices for cookie-muffins, and bake away.






Yield: 15 cookie-muffins (or around 30 cookies)

Ingredients
180 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g soft dark brown sugar
80 g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
200 g strong flour (bread flour)
200 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Fleur de Sel
160 g dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids, cut into small chunks

Special equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, one or two 12-cup muffin/cupcake pans, paper liners (optional)


Preparation
In the bowl of the stand mixer (or in a large bowl) add the butter, soft dark brown sugar and caster sugar. Beat, using the paddle attachment (or with your hand-held mixer), on medium-high speed until creamy.
Add the vanilla extract and the first egg and beat well. Add the second egg and beat well.
Add the strong and all-purpose flour, the baking powder and the Fleur de Sel, and beat until just combined.
Add the chocolate chunks and mix with your hands, kneading lightly the dough, until the chocolate chunks are distributed throughout the dough and there are no visible patches of flour.


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Take your muffin/cupcake pan and butter the cups lightly. Alternatively, you can line the cups with paper liners. Take the dough and form balls, roughly the size of a mandarin. Place dough balls into each cup of the muffin pan and press them down gently. The cups must be filled by 3/4 with dough.
Bake in the preheated oven, on the middle rack, for 13-15 minutes, until they take on a golden brown color but are still soft in the middle.
Take the pan out of the oven and allow the cookie-muffins to cool a bit before you take them out of the muffin cups. Then place them on a wire rack to cool.

Eat them warm, and the chocolate will ooze out of the cookie-muffin. Eat them cold, and the chocolate chunks will be deliciously dense. Either way, they're perfect.

You can keep them, covered, at room temperature for 3-4 days.





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23 comments:

  1. oh dear. I really need to make these now. Such a brilliant idea and they sure look delicious... I introduced my Greek husband to chocolate chip cookies, which he now asks for regularly, and I can see these putting him completely over the edge!

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  2. I can see how you became addicted! I also am more of a savory person, but these cookies could capture me!

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  3. cookie muffin... wow, amazing! I will make these soon. ~ cookie feign

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  4. Great idea...we all love muffins and cookies and to combine the two is a smashing idea. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. A cookie muffin...This could be dangerous. These look crazy good. And I agree about dark brown sugar. I never use the light.

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  6. Oh. my. gosh. I've made muffins that are really cake, but never cookies! These do indeed look delicious, and I can't wait to try them!

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  7. What a clever idea! :o They look just like a cookie from on top :)

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  8. Oh my that sounds like a little cup of chocolate chip cookie heaven!

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  9. What an awesome creation! Those cookie-muffins look irresistible. A terrific treat.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  10. homeingreece — hi there! I'm sure your Greek husband will love these. Take it from a Greek woman :)

    PolaM — yeap, these have that addictive quality.

    Banana wonder — you'll love these, for sure!

    Erica — indeed.

    Teresa — yes, the combination is amazing.

    Tracy — dark brown sugar is the best!

    Dramatic Pancake — let me know if you do. I'd love to hear how you liked them.

    Lorraine — yes, now that you mention it, they actually do!

    Sylvie, Rosa — thank you.

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  11. Wow - two bad (GOOD!) things in one! I love this! Funny, I do like cookies but I don't really like baking them. Any ideas Dr. Magda?? One cookie I love and would make in a heartbeat - finikia! Any recipes for them on the horizon? ~ David

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    1. Hi David! Finikia are like melomakarona, which we usually prepare at Christmastime. Next year maybe? :)

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    2. I can certainly be patient and wait till then! :)

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  12. Hi Magda, I first learned about the cookie-muffin thing last year, when I was hired to test some cookie doughs for a company. They told me to test it the "muffin" way as well as the regular baking sheet method. I was surprised by how good the outcome was----although the dough I was using was no match for your rich chocolate chunk!

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  13. Ha! The first photo is so deceiving! I thought it was chocolate cookies! :>

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  14. These sound perfect for me since all my normal chocolate chip cookies come out too soft and I'm always so disappointed. I'd never heard of cookie muffins but think the idea is brilliant and if you say they're delicious then it must be something special.

    P.S I'm with you on not having the patience for long refrigeration times and often put things in the freezer to speed it up.

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  15. I'll have to make these for my son and husband. They love these kinds of treats. :)

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  16. So good it is a perfect way to use the chocolate chip cookie tradition into a cake form. Much prefer eating a muffin to a cookie, especially for tea at 4PM!

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  17. Hey, I'm American and I never had heard of the cookie muffin, which by the way does look delicious! I am still a little shocked that you only eat one dessert/chocolate a week!!! How do you manage??

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  18. Nope, never heard of it until today! Thanks!! Yeah, that is pretty impressive, I can't say I have that much willpower anymore. You must eat it really slowly. Or do you just gobble it???

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