Tuesday, September 16, 2008

{TWD} Round the globe with Chocolate Chunkers


Saturday, September 13 was International Chocolate Day. I celebrated by baking Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chunkers! The recipe called for a staggering variety of chocolate types. So I rummaged in my chocolate vault (and in the local Whole Foods) to assemble chocolates from many lands. Here's my international lineup:

Belgium
Callebaut semisweet


France
Valrhona Caraibe Dark 66%
Valrhona cocoa powder


Venezuela
El Rey Caoba Milk 41%


England
Green & Black's 70%


US
Ghiradelli premium white,

Scharffen Berger unsweetened


Would this cookie experiment be a model of international harmony or an exercise in global conflict?


With the amount (and expense) of premium chocolate involved, I found myself waffling about the add-ins. Part of me wanted to just go with just chocolate(s) and skip the fruit and nuts. But I joined this group to make Dorie's recipes and Dorie has fruit and nuts.

Sour cherries seemed a natural choice (and I love them), but I've used cherries in two of Dorie's cookie recipes recently (and also in other cookies and home made granola), so I ruled cherries out.

A strong contender was golden raisins, which I figured I would chop so that they would be present but would not scream "raisin." I was also intrigued by crystallized ginger, which may not be a fruit, but is sold in the dried fruit section!

Dorie loves to put salty nuts in her sweets, and I'm with her in theory. But in practice I've not liked it as well. I used peanuts in the Granola Grabbers and didn't really care for the nuts. I used cashews for half of the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies, but preferred the half I made without them. I settled on salted macadamia nuts, which I hoped would be subtle, soft, and salty enough to add interest to the cookies and not bicker with all that fabulous chocolate.

But still I wavered. Bah, try it all. I baked four variations. All of the cookies got semisweet chocolate chunks stirred in. And then I separated the dough into four parts:

1. with milk chocolate stirred in, but no nuts or fruit. I studded half of the cookies with white chocolate before baking (but not this one!)



2. with milk chocolate and crystallized ginger. no nuts or white chocolate


3. with white chocolate, chopped golden raisins, salted macadamia nuts (this is the closest to Dorie's recipe)


4. with milk chocolate, chopped golden raisins, crystallized ginger, salted macadamia nuts



further notes:

- I added a bit more butter to make them more chewy and promote a bit of spreading

- I used a less of most of the stir-ins because I wanted to have a higher cookie-to-stuff ratio.

- the dough tasted like the inside of an undercooked brownie

- my cookies baked at 325 degrees for 11 minutes

- I made exactly 24 cookies (6 of each combination)

- the milk chocolate melted weirdly in the oven


The Verdict:

On baking day -

I had half of a #1 cookie ("just chocolate") while warm - it was fantastic! Lots of chocolate, all playing quite nicely. Had the other half after it was refrigerated - even better. A world class chocolate chunk cookie. Similar texture to a good chocolate chip cookie.

I ate a #4 cookie ("ginger, nuts, raisin") at room temp - it was chewy, chocolate-y, and the ginger was quite noticeable, but not unpleasantly so. The raisins added texture but not identifiable raisin-ness (I'm glad I chopped the raisins). Really a complex flavor combination. Almost out of control, but hanging onto unity.

My friend D had a #2 cookie ("chocolate and ginger") out of the fridge. He loved it. I asked if the ginger was too dominant. He said "No, but I love ginger." I had one also, and agreed.

All in all, it was a great International Chocolate Day!

Two days later -
I ate a #3 cookie ("white chocolate, golden raisin, macadamia nut). I'd stored the cookie in the fridge, but left it at room temp for several hours. It had gotten softer, and had a very cocoa-y flavor. It strongly resembled a brownie. The salted macadamia nuts were surprisingly GOOD in the cookie.

The rest of the cookies are safely in the freezer. I'll bring them to book group on Thursday and get their opinions. These folks have already tasted the World Peace cookies and the Whopper Drops.

Thanks to Claudia of Fool for Food for selecting this timely recipe! You can find the recipe on her post (click under the photo to read her post in English, unless you speak German!) or on page 70 of Baking From My Home to Yours. For more fabulous and creative renditions of the Chocolate Chunkers, check out the bakers on the TWD blogroll.


Endnotes:

a. These cookies were FAR better than last week's Whopper Drops, but not quite as good as Dorie's World Peace cookies (making those would be a fabulous way to celebrate International Chocolate Day!)

b. Consumer Guide provides a roundup of lots of different reviews of baking chocolate, which makes for very interesting reading. Of course I found this article after I'd already re-stocked the chocolate drawer...

50 comments:

Cathy said...

Ah, I was wondering if these would dethrone the World Peace cookies for you -- I guess not! If these don't do it, even with all of those incredible international chocolates present, then I bet that nothing will! All of your "chunk" combos sound great -- great idea with the macadamias! I feel a little more worldly just having read your post!

Marthe said...

I haven't tried the World Peace Cookies yet, so for me the Chocolate Chunkers are the best cookies fo far. I absolutely loved them, although I was astounded by the amount of chocolate that went into them@

Nickki said...

I didn't realise it was international chocolate day on saturday! Very appropriate!

Your pictures are just stunning. I do love the sound of the cookies with the ginger. But they all look so delicious!

I made the quintuple chocolate brownies last night, and oh my word they are incredible! Next to make on my list is the world peace cookies. :)

Lori said...

i am a scientist so anyone who does an experiment is tops in my book, anyway....but a COOKIE experiment is all the better! love your post.

SiHaN said...

some pricey cookies you have there. Sounds fabulous with the international lineup of chocolate though. I like the salted macademia idea though.

Lady Baker said...

Love the United Nations of Chocolate you've got going on. And I love all your variations of the cookie--they all look so good!!

I thought the same thing as far as wanting more cookie-vs-stuff.

I must try to give peace a chance (World Peace cookies that is..)

Di said...

I love all your experimentation. The ginger sounds like an interesting add-in. Nice mix of chocolates, too. The El Rey milk chocolate is one of my favorites

Pamela said...

Wow! I didn't know it was International Chocolate Day on the 13th! We had a birthday party here that day and chocolate was everywhere! I must say that I am utterly impressed by the different versions of this cookie you made! Great job.

Prudy said...

I love your international chocolate round up for world harmony. Love the variations too. Crystallize ginger and macadamia nuts. Oh, now I have to make these again.

Audrey said...

Very inspiring! But I have two questions: Do you have any of cookie #3 left? And don't you think it's important for international relations to buy all of these chocolates LOCALLY? :)

chocolatechic said...

I loved these cookies.

I think that the saltiness of the peanuts were a perfect combo with all the chocolate

MacDuff said...

You have so much restraint! But I love the idea of the ginger. I'm going to have to try that...

PANTRY REVISITED by Peggy said...

I love how you paced yourself eating these cookies. Unfortunately, I just jumped right in and made myself sick eating too many at once! They were really good.

April said...

You are amazing, great ideas on all of those different combos. And that chopped up chocolate looks heavenly! Fabulous job!

Bridgett said...

While I loved the whole chocolatey part of the cookie, all of the chunks got to be a bit much. I think I would love your all chocolate version!

Flourchild said...

Very nice looking cookies. I liked the way you added different ingredients. I used the golden raisins in half of mine. I like them better with out. I loved these cookies!

Madam Chow said...

I haven't made the World Peace Cookies yet, but I'm looking forward to it. And now I'll have to make these with macadamia nuts.
Madam Chow
http://www.mzkitchen.com

Judy said...

International chunkers - what a great idea!

Laura said...

I dream about someday getting to shop at World Market....the chocolate, the cheeses, the gourmet food....sigh...

Okay, back to Earth now. Your cookies look fantastic and -wow- you made 4 different variations, I'm impressed! And I love the idea of macadamia nuts, I think that brings the number of add-ins I've seen today and will have to try to at least 7. So many cookies, so little time....

Natashya said...

You are definitely the master of chocolate! Your cookies are great, I love the different combos.

Annette said...

I love these cookies! I haven't made the World Peace cookies. I'll definitely have to try them out now. I love how creative you were with the different variations.


I also wanted to say thanks for commenting on my first TWD post. I thought no one was reading, in reality I didn't set my blog to notify me when comments were posted. Oops.

Engineer Baker said...

Wow - so many choices! It looks like there was international harmony though :)

Michelle Ioapo A'etonu said...

Wow...you used all the good stuff! and i love your variations...crystallized ginger? who would've known!

The DeL Sisters said...

Your pictures are awesome! And all your variations look yummy!

Jules Someone said...

How did I miss International Chocolate Day????? Nice job on the variations. Cool!

Matt's Kitchen said...

The idea of crystalized ginger in the cookies sounds interesting. I also agree with you that nuts in cookies are not my preference, although I do like walnuts.

I'm looking forward to taking a break from the cookies next week!

Steph said...

I love the different variations you tried out. I'm always curious about the different types of addins that may enhance a cookie, but am too afraid to try them out in case they all get ruined. Plus, you can only eat so many cookies before feeling a little guilty.

Tammy said...

Four versions!! I am impressed!!!

James said...

Oh my, Nancy ... the chocolates you used! Impressive.

And, that you made four different versions. I bow to your greatness!

Jessica Eiden said...

Well done! I love your combinations and the international line up.

Anne said...

Wow, what a great comparison- all of your flavor combos sound wonderful and make me want to make these again!

n.o.e said...

Um, James, who is the one with pepperoni-to-be in their fridge? That's some true greatness.

Audrey: In fact, I have most of the cookies left. I whisked them into the freezer to save for a meeting this Thursday. Well, I left a few out for photos. Yes, that's it. Photos. And maybe a taste... The #2s are in the shortest supply. But I like them all.

Carol Peterman said...

With a chocolate line up like that, your cookies couldn't be anything but fabulous! I love the ginger idea. I will note that in my book for future reference.

Cristine said...

I love your creativity! I would love to visit your house so I could have all these wonderful creations! :)

Carmen Cooks said...

WOW - you really went all out with the four variations! I never even considered the crystallized ginger - which I think I would love in this recipe as it is so good with chocolate. I'll definitely try it out next time I make these!

Kayte said...

Okay...you win the award for most creative, most adventuresome, most dedicated to a recipe, most amazing photography and post...you just win all of it this week!

www.grandmaskitchentable.typepad.com

Carla said...

Geez, you went all out with the chocolate! I love how I can still see the white chocolate in yours because mine got covered in the chocolate batter.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

What a super idea to use 4 different combinations. Of course, I am sure I would love them all. That's some selection of chocolate you used - I used the Ghirardelli and the Green & Blacks Organic, and one sole ounce of Baker's plain unsweetened.
Great job and very informative for "next time copies."

dharmagirl said...

i love the idea of candied ginger! thanks for experimenting for us:) i wish i could shop at world market--ahh, the chocolate selection! the nearest w.m. is an hour and a half away:(

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Such intensity and research! Well done - I love the detail and thought you put into making these. The variations each look divine and the taste tests of just out of the oven and a few days later are so important. Thanks for another great post!

bakingwiththeboys said...

I am impressed with your array of chocolates! The ginger sounds like a really interesting addition.

Christine said...

Wow all those variations sound wonderful! I wish we had a whole foods around us your chocolate selection is amazing! Great job

AmyRuth said...

Okay, I am wowed....42 comments girl you are amazing. Seriously, love how you make a variety of combinations of "stuff". That's a really good idea. Wish I was sitting at your kitchen table to be your taster. :-)
Way to Go!!

Tracey said...

Love the shots of the chopped chocolate. Glad you liked them!

Libby said...

wow. you are fabulous, and so are your cookies.

Liz said...

Oh my goodness, can I please come live at your house? I promise to be clean, and quiet, and to help you in your taste tests whenever you want. :)

Seriously, all of your variations sound great. I ALMOST used mac nuts in mine, because I adore them, but I was running low and had tons of hazelnuts, so they won on a technicality. If I make these again it'll be macadamia nuts all the way. And maybe a little coconut!

Mike Spoodles said...

Wow! You successfully juggled four types of cookies this week. I could barely do the one! Good job. I've wanted to toy with ginger for a while, but I'm fairly certain it would make my family vomit. :( Livin' vicariously through you.

Andrea said...

What am amazing review! I love all of your combinations and the fact that you went for the 'best' chocolate, how fun! Seeing all of the international bars makes me wish I enjoyed dark chocolate more. I have to agree about the nuts in the quintupple chocolate brownies, I recently made them as a 'make-up' recipe since they were chosen before I joined TWD and I did the peanuts as suggested by Dorie, even though I was apprehensive, and they honestly ruined those brownies for me. I even went for some fancier chocolate :( Oh-well. The candied giner and macadamia nuts sound like amazing additions.

Jacque said...

Wow, you really went all out... I'm impressed! with both the chocolate selection and your different trials. I'll bet they will be a big hit at your book group.

Jaime said...

wow, thanks for all the reviews on the different variations!