The Most Expensive Chocolate Chip Cookies I Ever Made

One of the reasons I went ahead and bought the electric hand mixer to bake kulich was because I figured I could then make chocolate chip cookies and other mixer required recipes after. Recipes I couldn’t really do before because I was having an inner battle with myself over whether it was really worth it to go out and buy one I would only be using temporarily. The thought of trying to mix the kulich dough by hand in a very weak plastic bowl (the only big one I could find) was overwhelming so I gave in and bought the mixer (It was all of $12 – I’m not really sure what my problem was. Maybe it’s that I am used to having more cabinet space and I hate extra things on the counters). I was excited for the baking doors it would open afterwards. Well, If you read my post about kulich you will know that my mixer did not survive (duh, because it was $12).

Determined to make an American classic for my volunteer group, but not planning to go back to Ashan that week, I googled ‘How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies Without a Mixer’ and found a recipe on the website/blog(?) theKitchn. Which is one of those websites/blogs(?) that make you want to be cooler/change your whole life so you try commenting on it and usually end up sounding more lame. I opted to Tweet instead, but that didn’t produce any earth shattering changes, fame, or even a retweet…oh, well. I’m bad at Twitter and worse at Pininterest, anyway. I was pretty excited about the recipe. Maybe I don’t even need the mixer after all!!…Psh, of course I’ll get it anyway. I was so good at talking myself out of it and then I got a taste of having one again.

So Problem #1 happened while collecting ingredients. Brown sugar in most stores here is what at home we call raw sugar. So, not brown sugar. I finally found some in the fancy store across the street. It came out to about $7.50 for 1lb. These have now become very fancy cookies.

Next, I was unable to find vanilla extract. I probably should have just bought a vanilla bean since I didn’t know how to replace the extract with vanilla sugar, vanilla powdered sugar, vanillin, and every other vanilla option on the planet that these stores carry besides extract. I opted for just skipping it all together. Hold your gasps, the cookie flavor was actually fine! The other apparently exotic item in Moscow is chocolate chips. I have seen them once. In a tiny little packet around kulich baking time – and then they disappeared forever. Fine, I can chop chocolate bars into little chunks. Makes them even more homemade in my book! After all was said and done I got about 7 oz of chocolate chips for almost $4. That’s more than the cost of chocolate chips at home (where Nestle Tollhouse might cost about $3.59 for 12oz). So now these have become the Most Expensive Chocolate Chip Cookies I Ever Made.

This is how I followed the recipe (including the way I have to measure my ingredients in Moscow), but you can use the link I posted before for the original recipe: First mix 12 tbsp of granulated sugar and 12 tbsp of brown sugar until well combined. Smush out any clumps. In globs add/mix in the 114(ish) grams of softened butter (Here I got inspired and distracted by the idea of compound butter and daydreamed about what other ingredients I could make it with). Taste test a bunch of the butter/sugar mixture…I mean, what?
Add the two eggs one at a time, lightly beating the egg with a whisk (in the bowl but off to the side) first. Telepathically add some vanilla extract and hope that works. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of baking soda (Sigh of relief that I needed baking soda because there doesn’t seem to be baking powder in any store either). Mix this well. Add all 36 tbsp of flour at one time (try not to lose count). Carefully mix the dough as few times as possible until there is no flour visible in the dough or anywhere on the bowl. Fold in 200 grams of homemade chocolate chunks.
Next is the part that inexplicably makes me so irritated…roll tablespoons of dough and space them out on a lined or greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. I can’t stand this part and sometimes resort to spreading the mixture out in the baking sheet and just cutting it into Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars after baking. I can’t be the only one who has this revulsion because the cookie bars are actually an alternative option on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips package. I am not really sure what makes me so annoyed. I love cooking and baking and I like cookies. I’m assuming it’s because not many globs of dough fit on the baking sheet when you space them out so outrageously far (why 2 inches, Recipe, why?!) so you have to bake so many batches. And you have to wait for the cookies and baking sheet to cool before you can roll out another set. Yes, I am starting to realize how insane and impatient I must sound.
I decided to selflessly put myself through the torture of scooping and rolling because I wanted the volunteers to have chocolate chips cookies. Also I could lick any of the batter that sticks off of my fingers and the spoon…I mean…what? I stubbornly only spaced them out like an inch and a half though. Barely. And fully expected to get a big cookie blob in the end. But I didn’t. The cookies came out brilliant. The first (top rack) tray came out amazing. They even had a store bought shape to them. (Oh, I baked at 190(ish)°C for 10(ish) minutes). I stared at them in awe. Fascinated that the best ‘American-classic’ cookies I ever baked were in Moscow. With no vanilla. And less than 2-inches of separation!
Now, we won’t talk about the other trays that accidentally stayed in the oven too long. It’s crazy how fast cookies go from golden brown to charcoal (usually this happens in the 5 seconds that it takes me to nonsensically set the timer for just 1 more minute – the third time). I ALWAYS second guess and take out the cookies just a tad too late. This recipe has a great tip though – take the cookies out of the oven when the sides are set and the tops are dry to the touch. This really helps as my overbaked ones weren’t as bad as usual.
In fact, they were fine. Just a little crunchier. And the beauty of it all was that I was serving the cookies to a group of people that aren’t familiar with them. So how would they know, really? I made them the following week again and their doneness was even better. The second time I added a tiny bit of cinnamon (still no vanilla) and mixed dark and milk *homemade* chocolate chunks. Yum. The cookies were all eaten.

(PS: There is one volunteer, whom I adore and think is a very generous person, who, every time I bring something in, likes to lecture me about how American sweets/foods are full of crap and that Russians aren’t used to that and prefer things that are less salty or sweet. I just smile and nod as I watch him take seconds, thirds, fourths…)

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8 Comments to “The Most Expensive Chocolate Chip Cookies I Ever Made”

  1. hi olya, you can make your own brown sugar if you mix white sugar and molasses together…..but I think molasses is an American thing, so you probably won’t find it! lol

  2. If you soften the butter, you don’t really need a mixer for any recipe- I usually just use a fork or spatula to make cookies and cakes, and they all turn out perfect. As long as the butter is soft, making anything without a mixer is very easy. I actually grew up without a mixer, and the only thing that’s a pain to make without one is whipped cream….but still possible! For a great chocolate chip recipe, check out Cook’s Illustrated version- since it uses melted butter it’s even easier, and really is the best recipe I’ve ever tried for chocolate chip cookies!!

    • Cool, thanks! I’ll have to check that one out. I definitely think I could survive without a mixer. But I have made whipped cream with a whisk and it isn’t always fun 🙂 Also, I want to make macaroons here (if I can find almond flour, or someone who will let me borrow their food processor) and you have to whip the egg whites.

  3. Love this story. Still don’t see why you don’t take an American food package with you. With vanilla, brown sugar, chocolate chips etc. Then again, it is fun to experiment with different items. And I’ve made the classic recipe with just a whisk ( you DO have a whisk, don’t you) and a wooden spoon. Works fine. I usually just scoop with a tiny ice cream scoop and put right on baking sheet. No rolling. But then they don’t come out so perfectly round. If you only have one cookie sheet, as soon as you take the cookies off, turn it upside down and run it under cold water to cool it faster.

  4. Here is a link to a recipe for homemade vanilla extract: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2009/02/homemade_vanilla_extract.php
    This is reminding me of when I made lenten chocolate chips in Moscow. I thought they came out horribly but my Russian friends & students loved them.

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