Chocolate and Cookies. Few combinations are so celebrated and plain wonderful. Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have the perfect batch of satisfying treats in their new book "The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More."
Nearly Fat Free Chewy Chocolate Cookie (p 197) makes about 2 dozen large cookies
Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably natural, sifted 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 4 large egg whites, at room temperature 1 cup packed dark brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Position the rack in the middle of the oven; preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl until uniform; set aside as well.
2. Place the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler set over about 1 inch of simmering water, or in a medium bowl that fits securely over a medium saucepan with about the same amount of simmering water. Stir until half the chocolate has melted, then remove from the double boiler's top half or the bowl from the heat and continue stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave on high in 15-second increments until half the chocolate has melted, then continue stirring at room temperature until all the chocolate has melted. In all cases, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy, about 20 seconds. Add both kinds of sugar and beat until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes at medium speed. Pour in the cooled, melted chocolate and continue beating until uniform, then beat in the vanilla. Remove the beaters and stir in the prepared flour mixture with a wooden spoon or a metal spatula, just until the flour is moistened and evenly distributed. Do not overbeat or the dough will be too sticky.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, switching the sheet back to front halfway through baking, until the cookies are flat yet springy with crackly, dry-looking tops. Cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. Cool the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking additional batches.
Recommended storage: 4 days at room temperature 1 month in freezer
Personalize it! Stir in 2/3 cup of any of the following with the vanilla extract: golden raisins, currants, chopped dried apricots, chopped dried figs, or chopped dried pineapple.
Substitute any of the following for the vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon banana flavoring, 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring, 1 teaspoon orange extract, 1/2 teaspoon mint flavoring, 1 teaspoon rum flavoring.
Potato Chip Chocolate Cookie (p 203) makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies
Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cool margarine, cut into small pieces 1 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 1 large egg, at room temperature 1 large egg white, at room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 4 ounces potato chips, crushed (about 6 cups) 3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1. Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and nutmeg in a medium bowl until well combined; set aside.
2. Place the margarine in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until softened. Add both kinds of sugar and continue beating until the mixture is homogenous but grainy, not smooth, with no bits of margarine visible, about 2 more minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, beat in the egg, then the egg white and vanilla.
3. Turn off the beaters, add the flour mixture, and beat at low speed until a sticky and thick but nonetheless soft batter forms, about 20 seconds. Remove the beaters and stir in the crushed potato chips and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon, just until evenly distributed.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto two large ungreased baking sheets, preferably nonstick, spacing the mounds about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes, then reverse the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking for about 7 more minutes, or until the cookies are browned and somewhat firm to the touch. Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cool the baking sheets for 5 minutes before baking additional batches.